PerfTech Corp., which supplies a bulletin alert service for broadband Internet service providers, has branched out into the “spam” space. It’s developed Abuse Sentry, a software monitoring product being trialed at WideOpenWest LLC that allows WOW to identify e-mail spam originating from their consumers’ PCs.
In the vast majority of these cases, subscribers have no idea their PC has been taken over by an outside spammer.
“We’re trying to leverage our scaling position to get into some of the network-assessment parts of the game,” PerfTech president Rod Frey said of his company, which is building on its bulletin alert systems that scale to more than 100,000 users.
“We are able to look at outgoing spam leaving [the] network,” he said. “We can monitor how many e-mails are sent from every unique cable-modem account.”
WOW can set the threshold by tagging, for instance, anyone sending out more than 100 messages per minute. “Most people are unaware,” he said.
The PerfTech software lets WOW monitor activity and throttle down messages going through Internet port 25. “When we start throttling down, we send a bulletin back to the subscriber,” Frey said. If a subscriber has a legitimate business reason, he or she can be put on a so-called “white list” allowing high e-mail activity, or any parameters set by the broadband ISP.
WOW has 300,000 data subs, and there are fewer than 50 on the white list, Frey said. But close to 500 people were identified as spammers, he said, meaning 80% or so had no idea someone had hijacked their machines.
WOW has linked up with Trend Micro, which offers Internet-based free virus detection for high-speed users who find their PCs have been hijacked by spammers.
After using PerfTech’s bulletin service, WOW asked the company if it could help out on the spam front, Frey said. The bulletin service sends an alert to the broadband subscriber’s PC, notifying them of virus alerts or network problems, etc.
The new Abuse Sentry software is much cheaper than competitive products, Frey said, and is housed in one rack unit, sitting between the cable modem termination system and the edge router. “We can handle 150,000 subscribers on a much cheaper piece of hardware,” he said.
“We position this as a service to a subscriber,” Frey said, as it allows WOW to provide a better customer experience. But it also helps WOW, by preventing it from going on to “blacklists,” Frey said. AOL and AT&T are quick to shut off domains coming onto to their networks that generate a lot of spam activity, he said.
“Caring about the subscriber and having a price point lower than other contenders, we think we can help people fairly quickly,” Frey said.