Collaborating as a community against SPAM

A tool which leverages the collective intelligence of web users to fight SPAM

I am evaluating an innovative anti-spam product Cloudmark which aims to adopt an automated collaborative approach between its users to identify SPAM flitered through a weighted assessment of each users reputation in correctly spotting and reporting SPAM..Cloudmark works like this:

  1. Each time I flag a piece of email as SPAM (BLOCK) this information is sent back to Cloudmark to be used on behalf of its entire user community.
  2. Based on this collective intelligence Cloudmark directs all suspected SPAM away from user inboxes (including mine) and into a SPAM folder.
  3. I can inspect my SPAM folder to retrieve any wrongly classified items (UNBLOCK) – these re-classifications also get reported back to the Cloudmark knowledgebase.
  4. Cloudmark filters all classifications from me through a process which weights my input with my “SPAM Classification Reputation”
  5. Each time I am among the first to identify undesirable content my reputation rises and if I falsely report spam then it falls.

Cloudmark scores well on independent reviews

PC Mag
Cloudmark SpamNet 3.0's community-based filtering does a remarkable job of blocking spam without discarding valid e-mail. As long as you're using Outlook or Outlook Express, it's a very good choice….more

PC World rated Cloudmark best-buy compared with 8 other Spam filters
SpamNet ($4 per month) had the lowest false-positive rate of any spam filter I've ever tested (it didn't tag any legitimate messages that were not bulk mail) and a superb catch rate of over 98 percent. Its intuitive interface, virtually effortless filtering, and high success rate should put SpamNet on your short list of filtering products….more

The bottom line: Cloudmark Desktop is good at stopping spam, but it offers fewer features than either Qurb or MailFrontier…..more

Cloudmark is a neat idea

So the logic is that as SPAM feedback is corroborated in real time only a few people have to see a spam email before it is blocked for all the users in the Cloudmark community.

A neat feature is when you first install Cloudmark it can automatically batch check your entire inbox to automatically identify SPAM from its existing knowledgebase.

Cloudmark supports Outlook and Outlook Express and has versions/services for Businesses and Consumers.

The consumer version costs $39.95 for a one year subscription - they also offer a 15-day free trial to let you evaluate the product

In theory, then, this sounds like a great approach – leveraging the collective intelligence of the entire user community so that once one person correctly identifies SPAM then the whole community is instantly protected.

And it costs me nothing to contribute to the collective community intelligence on SPAM – it’s a self-generating and correcting knowledgebase.

Cloudmark points out however that all the benefits are not instant as “Just as in life, a good reputation takes time to build”.

In an earlier article, Is your computer a spam zombie, I reviewed a negative and wasteful distributed computing application where PCs were hijacked to turn them into SPAM factories without their owners permission.

Its great to see a positive and useful distributed computing application which declares war on these spam zombies.

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