One of Australia's leading ISPs has stepped up its anti-spam stance by purchasing Symantec anti-spam software and providing it free to broadband and dial-up customers.
Greg Bader, CTO of iiNet, which claims the title of Australia's fourth-largest ISP, said that even though Symantec's high-end Brightmail version 6 solution was not cheap, it would have many long-term benefits.
"Like many ISPs, we previously used Spam Assassin," Bader said.
"One of the problems with Spam Assassin is that, being open source, it needed constant updating. Any spammer worth his salt would run his work through Spam Assassin first."
Bader said he had one full-timer to run the open source filter at a performance level that did not even come close to Brightmail's.
"The Brightmail solution frees up processing time and increases our storage lifespan. It's only early days but we've already reduced the load on our back-end servers by 50 per cent," he said
Bader said that he hoped other ISP's would also take on the responsibility of providing quality spam solutions at no extra charge to the end user.
Symantec acquired email filter firm Brightmail for $US370 million in May this year. According to Symantec, this is one of its largest acquisitions, showing its commitment to spam filtering.
Symantec Brightmail recognises Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. It works in real time and updates every 10 to 12 minutes.
Symantec senior security analyst Andrew Gordon believes that iiNet's decision to use Brightmail marks a paradigm shift in how ISPs consider their responsibilities with regard to protecting end users.
"Overseas in European and US markets, ISPs have generally moved to absorbing the cost of quality spam solutions, which results in a much larger take- up then than if the end user has to pay," Gordon said.
Chief Executive of the Internet Industry Association (IIA) Peter Coroneos said industry partnerships between providers and vendors were an important part of an overall battle to stop the ever growing problem of spam.
According to Coroneos, 67 per cent of email in the Asia Pacific is spam. The IIA has developed a Code of Practice for ISPs to follow. The Code was developed to help implement the Spam Act introduced earlier this year.
"The code stipulates that ISPs need to provide a spam solution for their customers, so it is good that iiNet are making this move before the Code is even put into practice," Coroneos said.
He said the internet Industry Association had broken the battle against spam into four parts: "First there needs to be good strong domestic legislation, then end user education and empowerment, industry programs and international co operation."
Most ISP's offer spam protection of some form. BigPond charges $2.50 per mailbox for optional premium spam filtering on broadband and dial-up accounts. It also supplies free targeted spam and virus filtering at a network level which removes about 25 per cent of email entering the network. Optus supplies its own proprietary spam filter free with both broadband and dial-up accounts.