A new warrior in the battle against spam has attracted a group of prominent investors and early adopters.
Investors in Bright Light Technologies include Compaq chairman Ben Rosen, former Informix duo Roger Sippl and Phil White, and venture capitalist Esther Dyson.
Helped by such backing, the company has won four major Internet service providers as beta test partners - AT&T Worldnet, Earthlink, Concentric Network and USA.Net. It plans to expand its services to other countries where spam is a major problem.
San Francisco based Bright Light's pitch to ISPs is that they can outsource their anti-spam effort to the company and that the cost of the service, around $10,000 per year for every 2,000 email users, will more than pay for itself by freeing up bandwidth.
There are several elements to the Bright Light solution, which is called Bright Mail.
First, its Probe Network sets up email addresses for the sole purpose of receiving spam. Probing these addresses creates an early warning system to detect incoming junk mail.
Second, if spam is detected, details are delivered to the Bright Light operations centre, where employees, on 24x7 shifts, evaluate it.
The operations centre then sends updates to the company's Spam Wall filtering software engine, which is installed at each customer's location, which will then block the junk email.
The company said that, since most spam attacks take hours or days to complete, there is time to detect them and develop and execute countermeasures.
Director of Internet operations at Earthlink, Steve Dougherty, said: "EarthLink has declared war on spam, and Bright Mail should help us to further control it. And, because Bright Mail is fully outsourced, it offers us a cost effective, secure way to combat spam while we focus our energy on developing our services in a growing market."
Bright Light said it has advantages over competing solutions because it is not relaying simply on technology. It "keeps human brains and eyeballs - which remain the best anti-spam system - in the decision making loop", it claims.
The company has aspirations to sell its services to corporations as well as ISPs and it says Bright Mail works with most major messaging systems. Two mail providers, Sendmail and Software.com, are technology partners.
Chris Madsen, Bright Light's director of business development, said the company had plans to replicate the operations centre, which has about 15 employees, on different continents to offer the service internationally in countries were spam was a problem. There was as yet no timetable for the move.
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