P-Cube Module Fights Spam


P-Cube Inc. is introducing a spam-control software module for its Engage 2.1 service-control platform that will allow broadband-service providers to control spam on their e-mail networks and prevent their customers from becoming unwitting accomplices.

So called “zombie” spam — which can take over a home computer without its owner knowing it — results in millions of spam e-mail messages sent each day.

Companies like Yahoo! Inc., Microsoft Corp.’s MSN and America Online have spam filters on their large e-mail servers, but that doesn’t prevent spam originating from consumer PCs, officials at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based P-Cube said.

“There is an ongoing war against spam, and it really requires a multipronged approach,” said P-Cube vice president of marketing Milind Gadekar.

A broadband-service provider’s mail server might not be affected by spam originating from subscribers’ PCs, but there’s still a cost to be paid — both in terms of bandwidth usage and with the overall satisfaction level of the broadband subscriber, who might suffer slower service because of an infected computer, Gadekar said.

The spam control is a service module built into the P-Cube SE 1000 and SE 2000 service-control platforms, which can handle 40,000 and 100,000 broadband subscribers, respectively.

The software monitors all the activity emanating from a home PC.

“We can map e-mails to each subscriber,” Gadekar said.

Any PC that transmits, say 1,000 e-mails in an hour — or 5 Megabytes of e-mail over a 24 hour period — can be targeted. “You can use various parameters.”

Once identified, P-Cube (which Cisco Systems Inc. agreed to acquire last month) notifies the broadband service provider, so that provider can determine what to do.

“MSOs can start blocking potential spammers,” he said. “We can block outgoing e-mail.”

P-Cube’s technology can block only those e-mail messages headed to third-party servers. It can’t block e-mail sent within broadband service provider’s system.

Engage 2.1 can also send a message to an offending PC, to inform the user that an e-mail virus has taken over their computer and provide information on how to cleanse the system.

P-Cube has tested the system with a DSL provider in Europe, which found 75 subscribers who had sent over 1,000 e-mail messages in one hour — including 11 homes where more than 10,000 messages had been sent out.

Gadekar said P-Cube has rolled out the software to one Japanese MSO.

A North American DSL deployment is scheduled over the next few months.