25 Jul Fighting spam via blue frogs
Some companies just can’t wait for DEMOfall, and one of those is Blue Security, which launched the public beta of its Blue Frog “Do Not Intrude Registry” early last week.
The concept is like the national Do Not Call list that has deterred telemarketers from ruining your dinner. Instead of the threat of fines and jail time, Blue Security creates its registry through a community of users.
Claims to the contrary aside, Blue Security isn’t the first to claim to “disrupt the business model of spammers” by asking the “consumer [to] join a community to fight back against spammers.” These same ideas are at the heart of Cloudmark, which for several years has offered an effective and successful anti-spam product.
Nor is it the first company to – in my words – “reverse annoy” spammers. Turntide (acquired by Symantec) introduced at DEMO 2004 an appliance launched more or less a denial of service attack on spammers’ mail servers.
The innovation at Blue Security is an elegant integration of these two ideas. Blue Security disseminates a Blue Frog agent, named for the Dendrobates azureus, the blue poison frog found in the rain forests of southern Surinam. The otherwise adorable frog packs a deadly poison, so much so that species of non-poisonous frogs have adapted the blue poison frog’s color as protective camouflage.
Blue Security thinks the frog is an apt metaphor for spam fighting. The agent identifies links in unwanted e-mail, navigates to those links and begins filling out any forms it can find on the site. The inserted data registers as a complaint and requests that a specific e-mail address be removed from the spammer’s mail list. The Blue Security agent continues to load the spammer’s server with complaints until “the site is so busy dealing with complaints that it can’t spam,” says Eran Reshef, founder, chairman and CEO of Blue Security.
When I met with Blue Security in early May, Reshef thought the concept would need a community of only 100,000 users in order to be an effective deterrent to spam. According to a company spokeswoman, early tests of the Do Not Intrude Registry seem to indicate that spammers are responding to the complaint actions. “After receiving Community complaints, a number of spammers attempted to make changes to their Web sites, in a futile attempt to prevent the Blue Community from submitting further complaints,” she said.
Perhaps not the response Blue Security was looking for, but certainly an indication that the agent is impacting a spammer’s business. (You can join the public beta by downloading the Blue Frog agent at http://www.bluesecurity.com/register/pr.)
Blue Security is a year-old company backed by Benchmark Capital with $3 million with an ambitious goal: to break the economics of spam and spyware and allow consumers and enterprises to reclaim their Internet experience. Given the disruption and expense of spam and other malware, Blue Security has pretty good odds that it will attract a community of 100,000. In the wild and wiley environment of spammers, though, it remains to be seen if the introduction of “blue poison frog” will drive an adapt or die evolution in unsolicited e-mail marketing.
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