Internet service provider Eircom Net has launched what it claims is Ireland’s first combined antispam and antivirus service, Eircom Net Email Protector. Intended for small businesses and domestic users, the centrally managed software tool aims to stem the wave of spam that is said to account for 50pc of all emails.
According to independent research commissioned by Eircom Net, the spam problem is costing Irish businesses an estimated €150m per year. The Email Protector service has been in development since last September. It has been available for download from Eircom Net’s website since 12 January and almost 2,000 customers have already begun using the product, according to the ISP’s director Fintan Lawler.
Email Protector works by scanning all emails before they reach the subscriber’s computer. Users can set security levels based on four categories, low, medium, high and maximum. At the lowest level, the system disables executable files, which typically carry viruses or worms, or warns the user that a message may be spam. Higher levels of security allow messages to be quarantined and sent to the user without potentially harmful attachments. Users can then opt to open or delete the mail as appropriate.
In addition, customers can set up personalised ‘black lists’ and ‘white lists’. ‘Black listing’ automatically blocks any email from known spammers and repeat offenders. ‘White listing’ allows mail from identified sources, such as friends and family, to be received.
The system can be further customised, so that if users receive a mass-mailing message the system will initially block it, but if it is recognised as a publication that the user subscribes to, emails from that source can be classified as ‘friendly’ and allowed through. “A lot of the customisation of the white list happens in the first week,” Lawler pointed out.
“My own amount of spam had been more than 70 messages a day and now it’s down to one or two. Very quickly it gets down to a level of no spam at all,” he added.
Email Protector costs €2 per month. The cost is added to the user’s home phone bill. More information is available online at www.eircom.net/emailprotector.
By Gordon Smith