Trend Micro to launch new anti-spam tool

CIOL Bureau
New Update

 By Jim Finkle


BOSTON - Japanese software maker Trend Micro Inc. has developed technology to help thwart a form of spam that's tough to crack -- e-mail sent in the form of scanned images, a senior executive said .

Spam filters are generally efficient in scanning ordinary text messages as computers can search quickly for specific words or word patterns, which serve as red flags in identifying junk mail.

But spammers have learned to get around those programs by using imaging software to essentially make copies of text messages and turn them into graphic images that cannot be scanned using conventional methods.


About 40 percent of all spam messages are image-based, compared with about 10 percent a year ago, according to McAfee Inc., another software company that specializes in Internet security.

Trend Micro plans to introduce software in the first quarter of 2007 next year to allow companies to scan image-based spam without requiring huge amounts of processing power that can slow down email traffic.

"We believe it addresses most types of image spam that we're seeing in the world today," Trend Micro Director of Product Development Paul Moriarty said in an interview.


The company filed a U.S. patent application related to the technology in the middle of November, Moriarty said.

Analysts said that to detect graphic-based spam, companies currently need to use optical character recognition programs to convert those images back into text for scanning.

That process can be time-consuming and tax the resources of corporate computer networks, said Andrew Jaquith, a computer security analyst with technology researcher Yankee Group.

"It's very processor-intensive. It's not an easy thing. You've got to crack the image open. You've got to look at a lot of bytes," Jaquith said.

Trend Micro declined to say how its new software will handle that technology challenge.