Home builder puts up wall against spam

When Calgary-based builder Jayman Homes implemented Mirapoint’s RazorGate 100 e-mail security technology three months ago, few of Jayman’s e-mail users even noticed, according to the CIO.

“Other than a couple of executives who are interested in this type of thing, and technical staff, nobody even knows that we have this type of device out there,” said Terry Naven, Jayman’s chief information officer. Jayman, a privately held company based in Calgary, builds about 1,500 homes annually and is the market leader in Edmonton and Calgary, based on volume. It also has a small presence in Denver, Colorado.

While staff were asked to watch for missing e-mails, the Mirapoint system resulted in few such “false positives” — legitimate e-mail that is wrongly stopped by anti-spam technology.

But Jayman IT staff certainly noticed the difference, with the virtual elimination of spam, much of it before it even entered the network, Naven said. Of the 15,000 to 20,000 e-mails received daily in the company’s 350 mailboxes, 40 percent were spam.

“I guess we were on all sorts of people’s favourite lists for sending spam out,” Naven said in an interview. “It was starting to bog down our system.”

He added that Jayman’s earlier anti-spam system had been producing too many false positives.

“People were missing e-mails and we needed to find a better solution,” Naven said. “We liked the Mirapoint option best because it dealt with a lot of spam volume before it got into our network.”

Jayman has found the Mirapoint system, which is being installed in steps, to be user-friendly, as well.

A significant feature of the Mirapoint technology is that its MailHurdle component checks e-mail at the “edge”–before it reaches the network.

It sends a “retry” message to the originating server, and most spambots are unable to deal with such requests.

MailHurdle typically stops between 50 and 80 percent of spam, according to Mirapoint’s director of corporate marketing and global channels, Craig Carpenter.

In one sense, Jayman was lucky that only 40 percent of its e-mail was spam, he said. Some estimates put it as high as 90 percent of e-mail traffic.

“Let’s say that 50 percent of incoming traffic is spam, which is probably low,” Carpenter said. “This [MailHurdle] functionality should be able to reduce a minimum of 25 percent of your incoming traffic, just by reducing spam at the authentication layer.”

“That definitely affects your network bandwidth quite a bit,” he added.

In addition to MailHurdle, Mirapoint’s RazorGate 100 system has 20 or more other components that carry out further tests, such as recipient checks and measuring traffic volume, once e-mail is inside the network.

Just which other components are installed depends on the customer’s needs, Carpenter said.

For most customers, a critical aspect of any e-mail security program is the ending of false positives, added Carpenter.

“Basically, you can’t have false positives,” he said. “People don’t like spam, but they really don’t like false positives. It’s just not acceptable.”

RazorGate reduces the problem “basically to zero,” Carpenter said.

Dealing with spam only inside a customer’s network is no longer appropriate.

“It clogs up the network,” he said. “In this day and age of compliance, you have to log it, report it, archive it and store it. It’s kind of a sticky mess that people would much rather push outside the network.”

Mirapoint has numerous customers wanting its multi-level approach to e-mail security, Carpenter added.

Jayman’s Naven is pleased with the Mirapoint technology.

“We’re happy with what we’ve seen so far — and we haven’t even turned on all the functionalities,” Naven said.

Mirapoint, based in California, has offices throughout North America, Asia and Europe.

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