ISPs are getting the message

ISPs are getting the message

Steady progress is being made by ISPs on spam and email security according to new research

Europe’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are taking greater strides to improve the quality of their services and reduce the amount of infected or unwanted mail in users’ inboxes, but firms are still labouring under email-borne viruses and messaging overload, according to experts speaking at this week’s Inbox Outbox email event in London.

During a keynote speech, Pascal Manzano, an expert in network security policy at EU security organisation Enisa, presented new research from the organisation which found viruses, spam and denial of service attacks unsurprisingly the top concerns for ISPs.

However, Manzano highlighted that nearly all service providers surveyed now carry out basic ingress security, while basic egress security had risen from 45 percent of service providers last year to nearly 90 percent in 2007.

“When egress filtering is provided it doesn’t directly benefit that ISP’s customers but the other providers, so we’re seeing a trend towards acting for more community benefit,” he explained.

In addition nearly 90 percent now offer free of charge spam filtering, and the vast majority combine at least five techniques to filter traffic, including greylisting and sender authentication. Risk management is also improving with roughly half of respondents saying they now have such plans, said Manzano.

But it wasn’t all good news for the ISP community. Although most ISP associations provide best practice guidelines for their members, few of them act on all this advice, said Manzano. For example only half of respondents said they block or manage Port 25 – a recommendation of most ISPAs. In addition, less than half limit high outbound mail volumes and only a quarter said they have automatic abuse report generating capabilities.

Manzano urged service providers to co-operate more in sharing information at a national and international level in order to combat spam and email security issues. “We are aware this is costly and will take time and resources but we are convinced spending money and awareness raising among customers will be [of benefit],” he added.

The problem facing enterprises was also highlighted by Sara Radicati, president of messaging analyst firm Radicati Group, who predicted a growth in blended threats and that spam as a percentage of total traffic will rise from current levels of 75 percent to 82 percent by 2011.

“There are a plethora of problems but no one solution,” she added. It’s no longer enough to stop spam at the entry to the network – it’s important to cut down the amount that reaches the network.”