A New Weapon In The Spam War

August 15, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Axaware LLC is nearing its ninth month of existence and is busy preparing for the rollout of the second version of its flagship product, Spam Bully.

Paul Jendrasiak, the company's local principal, concedes that Spam Bully isn't the only spam filter on the market.

But the Grand Rapids native and his partner, Jeff McMorris, of Galveston, Texas, argue that in dealing with floods of porn, mortgage advertising and Viagra ads, their product is special.

First, it leans on probability theory developed by a British clergyman and mathematician, Thomas Bayes, born 301 years ago.

Second, it applies Bayes' theory to each owner's unique pattern of e-mail use, filtering spam accordingly.

Jendrasiak, a graduate of Ottawa Hills High School who earned his business degree through Davenport University, said he and his partner met about 10 years ago through their mutual fascination with the Internet.

"We became friends, the way people will when they have a common interest." They worked on some Internet marketing projects together.

Then in the spate of concern about proposals to control spam by statute, they saw a software development business opportunity.

"We wanted to do something about the plague of spam on the Internet," he said. He and McMorris doubt that laws requiring an "adv" designation can dam the spam deluge. They feel spam will remain a time-consuming nuisance one must purge several times a day.

Not surprisingly, Axaware's owners argue that Spam Bully solves the problem in a way no legislature can.

Jendrasiak told the Business Journal that part of Spam Bully's program involved integrating more than 35,000 spam messages in it. Thus, the program recognizes spam's typical vocabularies, word patterns and pitches.

"It knows what to recognize as spam from the moment it is installed," he said.

But over time, he added, Spam Bully will adapt itself to each user's personal e-mail preferences while continually adjusting itself to recognize new types of spam and to divert it to a special folder where the user can inspect it at leisure, or simply pull the chain.

Jendrasiak said important business e-mail, notes from friends, and newest baby pictures from one's family are sent to the inbox where they belong.

He said Spam Bully rests on Bayes' theorem concerning the number of times an event has or has not occurred and the likelihood it will occur in the future.

"Using Bayes' theories in conjunction with e-mail filtration allows Spam Bully to determine the probability that an e-mail is spam based on the words it contains," Jendrasiak said.

In addition to its self-learning filter, he said Spam Bully sometimes can bounce spam back to its authors with the designation "undeliverable," making them think a user's e-mail address is no longer valid.

The program can block all known spam addresses, he said, noting that the program has a feature whereby one may either block or allow entry for entire Internet domains.

Axaware designed Spam Bully for Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/2003 running Outlook 2000/2002/XP/2003 or Outlook Express 5, 5.5 or 6 e-mail programs.

Axaware makes the program available for a 14-day trial by download at www.spambully.com.

"We're very pleased with the interest Spam Bully is generating," he said. "We're getting toward the tens of thousands in contacts."

Jendrasiak said the firm is developing another program — as yet unnamed — designed to eliminate nuisance pop-up ads, though its main feature is to simply speed up search engine use.

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