Baltimore Technologies – MailSweeper 4.2 for SMTP review

block e-mail viruses at the door
Photo of Baltimore Technologies – MailSweeper 4.2 for SMTP
50-user (£1,260 + VAT), then scaled up to 500-user (£5,145 + VAT) and higher, with annual maintenance fee.

E-mail viruses. Can’t stop people writing them, can’t trust users not to click on any attachment that purports to contain porn, money or a profession of undying love. So what can you do? Security patches for Microsoft Outlook are available, but few IT departments have the time to install them on every user’s PC. There are other potential e-mail problems, too, such as illegal or inappropriate e-mail usage, corporate espionage, spamming and so on.

The thing to do is to stop the problem before it gets to users’ machines, which is what MailSweeper is all about. It’s a server-based ‘store and forward’ e-mail relay system that allows administrators to control exactly what happens to corporate e-mail, with various actions taken depending on a particular e-mail’s content. For example, at a simple level, all e-mails containing viruses can be immediately blocked.

The program works by scanning incoming and outgoing e-mail messages and comparing their contents against ‘policies’ set up by the administrator. This process is impressively thorough, able to scan for spam messages, search attachments and analyse the type of data (the software recognises a wide range of images, executables, animation files, video and so on). It can also check for spoof e-mails, which usually have forged ‘from’ addresses, and there’s also a text analyser that can be configured to block obscene words and an option to add a commercial disclaimer, so beloved of corporate lawyers, to the end of each outgoing e-mail.

Depending on whether or not an e-mail breaks one of the defined ‘policies’, one of several actions can be taken automatically. The e-mail could be delivered as addressed, or forwarded to another account, parked for later delivery (useful for large attachments that would otherwise hog resources), or quarantined. There are various ‘copy to’ options, too.

The software runs on Windows NT SMTP servers, is pretty easy to install and configure for anyone with reasonable NT knowledge, and offers a useful peace of mind solution to e-mail problems that cannot be reliably solved at user level, where messages such as ‘Click here to change your life’ can get a surprisingly high response.

Company: Baltimore Technologies

Contact: 0118 930 1300


Verdict
This type of software is rapidly becoming essential for businesses of any size, since relying on users' good behaviour is not sufficient to prevent virus and spam attacks. MailSweeper works well, is transparent to the user and is easy to configure. It's not exactly cheap, but it could potentially save money in terms of downtime and legal costs.