By Brian Livingston
Our tests of antispam appliances in the Jan. 26 newsletter made a definite impression on our readers. The article received a reader rating of 4.15 out of a possible 5, our highest-rated article so far (well, in all two of the issues that’ve supported reader ratings to date). And several subscribers sent us their own results from testing the least-expensive appliance in our review: the Deep Six Technologies DS200 Spamwall, which we found to be highly effective.
This device, our tests showed, prevented almost all spam servers from even connecting to our test mail server. No quarantine folder of "possible spam," therefore, is needed. This means there’s no morass of junk mail to examine for misdirected legitimate messages. Quarantine folders not only waste your users’ time, but also expose them to phishing scams and all the other bad stuff that spam usually contains.
The DS200 ($999 list) produced no false positives in our tests but allowed into our inboxes only 0.09% of the thousands of unwanted messages that spammers attempted to send. This performance compares very favorably with competing SMB antispam appliances that list for $3,000 to $7,200, plus ongoing license fees. (Many of the alternatives, however, also offer antivirus and firewall protection that the Deep Six invention does not.)
Despite its low cost, simplicity, and effectiveness, the Deep Six device has never been reviewed by any major computer magazine. The DS200 uses “connection scoring,” which ranks incoming mail connections using a “decision tree” involving several dozen real-time block lists. Test labs cannot review this approach by merely sending a corpus of known spam and not-spam from one test server to another. It can only be reviewed using a live mail server and a live stream of SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) connections. I repeat my call for better-funded research labs to commit the resources necessary to really torture-test the DS200.
As a result of my article, many of our readers learned about Deep Six for the first time. To be sure, the DS200 is useful only to companies that operate their own mail servers. But this represents a large portion of our subscribers. I believe the principles at work in the Deep Six device can eventually relieve individual computer users of spam as the Spamwall’s methodologies are licensed (or imitated) by ISPs and others.
Decision tree reduces mail-server demands
Many of our readers who tested the device for themselves reported that it succeeded in its major benefit: reducing the CPU time and storage space that their mail servers previously consumed calculating spam scores for incoming messages. Reader Alex Davidson writes:
- “We currently use GFI’s Mail Essentials software installed on a server. In January 2006, it reported that we received an average of 18,662 messages a day. Of those, 99% were identified as spam by GFI.
“On Friday, Feb. 3rd, I set up our new DS200 (purchase based solely on your review), put it on the LAN, then switched the firewall to point to it (all during business hours and no problems were experienced).