IronPort Systems Buys SpamCop

E-mail services company IronPort Systems said yesterday that it acquired blacklist operator SpamCop. Financial details were not disclosed.

The acquisition of the blacklist, which some Internet service providers and users rely on to block e-mail based on user feedback, will be used to boost IronPort's e-mail reputation service and sender-verification program.

“There's nothing else out there on the Internet that has this data, which we think is the trump card,” said Patrick Peterson, general manager for information services at IronPort, San Bruno, CA.

Internet users submit spam to SpamCop, which catalogs it and issues a “blacklist” of spam sources to block. Blacklists have proven an effective but blunt anti-spam tool, with some e-mail marketers complaining that they are unfairly blocked with little recourse. SpamCop logs more than 500,000 complaints a day.

Peterson said the data would be used to help judge a sender's performance as part of IronPort's SenderBase e-mail reputation service and Bonded Sender program. SenderBase already incorporates SpamCop data in its system. IronPort also sells powerful e-mail servers.

IronPort will invest $1 million to bolster SpamCop's defenses against a wave of denial-of-service attacks launched against it and other anti-spam groups. SpamCop will remain a free resource for users, and its founder, Julian Haight, will continue managing the service.

In a posting on SpamCop's site, Haight said that IronPort's financial resources would let SpamCop fight off the service attacks, which have been blamed on spammers.

IronPort hopes its Bonded Sender program plays a role in ISPs' moves to ensure legitimate commercial e-mail gets past their stringent spam defenses. The program works by having bulk senders put up a bond against their reputation. The bond is debited when the sender's complaint level reaches a certain threshold.

On Oct. 20, the Network Advertising Initiative's E-mail Service Provider Coalition chose Bonded Sender to power its Project Lumos certification program. The idea is to solve two issues at the heart of the spam problem: sender anonymity and little economic cost to blasting messages.

About 200 senders have signed up for Bonded Sender, and IronPort has deals to include it with anti-spam software Spam Assassin as well as ISPs Road Runner, Outblaze and Terra Networks. The plum remains the top ISPs, which plan to announce the principles such certification programs should adhere to and begin individually implementing such solutions.

“Once we get one of the big three, literally every sender in the world will want to participate in the program,” Peterson said.

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