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IronPort unveils e-mail security appliance

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By Karen J. Bannan

E-mail security provider IronPort Systems this week announced a new e-mail security appliance, the IronPort X1000, which integrates DomainKeys, an anti-spoofing technology developed by Yahoo! It is the first time a vendor has added Domain Key support to an appliance.

However it’s not the first time that IronPort has supported a security protocol. Recently, the San Bruno, Calif.-based company worked with the two competing authentication protocols, Microsoft Corp.’s Sender ID and Meng Weng Wong’s Sender Policy Framework (SPF), said Ambika Gadre, IronPort Systems’ senior director of product management.

"We are somewhat agnostic in terms of who we’re going with. Ideally, we’d like to have a single authentication protocol that everyone would adopt, but that hasn’t happened; so until then, we will support whatever standards [are popular]," Gadre said. "A lot of large ISPs are suggesting that they are going to start using domain keys. This is the way we are going to go until adoption [of other standards] picks up."

All three protocols do essentially the same thing: compare and confirm that the name in an e-mail message’s send field is where that message is actually coming from. Sender ID and SPF protocols compare the message headers with data published in the Domain Name System (DNS), while Yahoo!’s technology utilizes an encrypted approach.

DomainKeys garnered additional support on June 1 when Cisco Systems announced it was teaming up with Yahoo!, combining its Internet Identified Mail protocol with DomainKeys. The new method, called DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) has a good chance of becoming the stand-out security protocol, experts said. IronPort has already said it will upgrade to the combined standard when and if it completes the standardization process with the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Michael Lipham, research analyst with the Robert Francis Group, a research firm in Westport, Conn. said IronPort’s support is also an important step, and one that may benefit marketers in the long run.

"None of the standards is foolproof yet, because spammers are going to shift their tactics and start registering new domains at a high rate. But it does make it a little harder for them," he said. "E-mail servers in general are a good idea anyway. You definitely want a layered approach to e-mail, and appliances can facilitate speeds and are easy to integrate into an existing infrastructure."

The X1000, which processes e-mail messages 10 times more efficiently than traditional Unix-based e-mail servers, according to the company, will ship during the third quarter of this year. It will cost $90,000.

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