Sweet curves and black arts to block spam

By Paul Brislen, Computerworld New Zealand Online |  Security

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has invited New Zealander Richard Jowsey from Death2Spam to speak at its Spam Conference 2004 to be held in January. His topic: "Sweet Curves, Black Arts and Fuzzy Logic: Fine-Tuning Bayesian AS/AV Gateway Servers."

Jowsey, whose product is used by Auckland-based ISP ICONZ, has recently signed a U.S. distribution deal with Binary Research International, the company that distributed Murray Haszard's disk copying utility Ghost and Marshal Software's filtering software in the U.S.

Binary was also involved in setting up the multi-million dollar deals for both companies to be bought by U.S. giants. Jowsey doesn't rule out some kind of similar venture for his own company further down the track.

"We've been talking with Brightmail and I met with the CEO and founder Enrique Salem when he was in New Zealand earlier this year."

Jowsey says the two hit it off and discussed so-called third generation spam filtering technology like Death2Spam.

"He's interested in being able to get to the last 10 percent of the world's spam and that's where we excel."

Jowsey says the MIT conference is a very high-level affair with some of the world leaders in probabilistic filtering speaking.

"I'm going to be talking specifically about how to scale up from a desktop to a multi-user environment."

Because the filters learn from the user's own mail patterns, the more users on the system the better, says Jowsey.

"It allows for the consensual sharing of information at the abstract level. In other words if you get a spam that's not been seen before, that person can decide 'no, that's spam' and that gets fed back into the system. I've watched it happen and it's lovely to see. What that means is the next person who gets it will be more likely to have it listed as spam and it increases from there."

Jowsey says everyone benefits from that kind of filtering because it happens so quickly, within 20 or 30 seconds.

"The Americans are extraordinarily interested in it because nobody's managed to scale that up yet."

Already Jowsey has sold the product to a Canberra-based organization that is deploying it to 10,000 users and an average mail load of 50,000 messages a day.

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