Kaspersky Lab acquires the Spamtest Project

20 Jul 2005
Business News

Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content management solutions that protect against viruses, Trojans, spyware, hacker attacks and spam, and the Russian company Ashmanov & Partners, announce the acquisition by Kaspersky Lab of Spamtest, a leading Russian anti-spam project, which was developed by Ashmanov & Partners. This agreement launches a procedure for the comprehensive integration of the Spamtest Project into the technological, commercial, and organizational structures of Kaspersky Lab. Complete handover will take about two months and will be completed in the autumn of this year.

Under the agreement, upon acquisition Kaspersky Lab will gain control of all elements of the Spamtest Project. These include, first and foremost, the Spamtest technology which detects and filters unwanted mass emails based on message content analysis using the Spamtest filter. This filter includes over 15 methods of spam recognition to analyze correspondence, including linguistic, graphical and signature-based methods. A linguistic lab works around the clock and releases database updates every 20 minutes. The filter delivers exceptionally high performance (up to 2,000,000 messages scanned per day on an average server with Intel Pentium 2.4 Mhz, 1GB RAM), making it possible to use on the largest public servers. Users of the technology include the largest players in the national market.

A total of 40 to 60 million email messages are scanned by Spamtest filters every day, or nearly two billion messages a month. Spamtest protects roughly 30 million mailboxes in Russia and abroad. The Spamtest linguistic lab receives and processes about 150,000 to 200,000 spam complaints daily from users of public email services and private companies. Spam detection rates are currently at the 95-97% level with virtually no false positives. The Spamtest technology is currently used in Kaspersky Lab's Kaspersky® Anti-Spam product line.

In addition to the Spamtest technology, the merger will include Spamtest.ru, a network service which offers free online scanning of user correspondence and the weekly e-magazine Spamtest.

The agreement between Kaspersky Lab and Ashmanov & Partners is in line with current trends in the global IT industry, which is increasingly moving towards integrated software products and platforms. This naturally leads to mergers and acquisitions. For example, a year and a half, ago Symantec acquired Brightmail, a large supplier of anti-spam services, for US$340 million. This year, Microsoft acquired Sybari, a supplier of antivirus and anti-spam solutions, while Computer Associates, a well-known antivirus vendor, acquired Tiny Software, Inc., a popular firewall vendor.

The acquisition of anti-spam companies and products has objective technological benefits, particularly with regards to economies of scale and integrated protection. For example, simultaneously scanning correspondence for viruses and for spam significantly reduces the amount of time and system resources required which is only possible when using an integrated solution to protect against cyber threats. Furthermore, information threats are also rapidly becoming “integrated” and “blended”. For instance, spam is used to distribute viruses and vice versa, and phishing messages and spyware are distributed using spamming technologies. It is therefore no longer possible to protect against these threats using non-integrated tools.

For Kaspersky Lab, the acquisition of the Spamtest project is a natural step on the path towards collaboration. Cooperation between the two Russian vendors began with the release of the first version of the Spamtest filter in 2002, when Kaspersky Lab licensed the filter's kernel from Ashmanov & Partners for its Kaspersky Anti-Spam solution. Since then, collaboration between the two companies has proven productive. Home-user products (Kaspersky Personal Security Suite, an integrated solution) have been released, as well as two versions of Kaspersky Anti-Spam, an advanced mail protection solution for corporate customers (Kaspersky Anti-Spam Enterprise Edition 2.0) and a solution for internet service providers (Kaspersky Anti-Spam ISP Edition 2.0).

Collaboration between Kaspersky Lab and Ashmanov & Partners has also resulted in the planned release of software packages for popular mail clients, including the Microsoft Exchange Server. Content filters based on Spamtest technology are used in products produced by InfoWatch, a Kaspersky Lab subsidiary. InfoWatch specializes in protecting against internal electronic threats to companies in order to prevent leaks of confidential information via various channels. Despite being a relatively new company, solutions developed by InfoWatch have earned the appreciation of Russian corporate clients, largely thanks to the Spamtest filtering system.

During the past three years, the Spamtest technology and Kaspersky Anti-Spam have proven quite popular, demonstrated by the list of leading national players who protect their IT infrastructure with Spamtest or Kaspersky Anti-Spam. These include Mail.ru (the largest free email server), Mobile TeleSystems and Vympelkom (the largest mobile phone operators), Rostelecom, MMC Norilsk Nickel and many others. Additionally, the client base of InfoWatch includes RAO EES Rossii, Vympelkom, and VoGEK (the Volga Hydraulic Power Cascade). Kaspersky Anti-Spam is also used by foreign internet service providers, including GTS-DataNet (Hungary), Czech On Line (the Czech Republic), DCM d.o.o. (Croatia), and University of Western Australia (Australia), among others.

Kaspersky Lab CEO Natalya Kaspersky had the following to say regarding the agreement: “The acquisition of the Spamtest Project is an unprecedented step for Kaspersky Lab. This will enable us to ensure further integration of spam filtering technologies into our products, thereby raising their functionality and their quality, increasing the company's capital as well as reducing risks for us and for our customers by acquiring a technology that is crucial for the company's activities. This is the first acquisition in the company's history and we are approaching it very seriously. We are fully aware of the complexity of integrating the project into the Kaspersky Lab structure and we are guided primarily by our customers' interests. Meeting customers' needs is at the foundation of Kaspersky Lab's work, and therefore the acquisition process will be as painless as possible for users of the Spamtest system.”

Igor Ashmanov, CEO of Ashmanov & Partners, stated, “We believe that the deal is beneficial for both parties. Kaspersky Lab is taking the natural next step by consolidating security technologies. With their excellent reputation, extensive distribution channels in Russia and abroad, considerable technological and financial resources, Kaspersky Lab will gain the most from the anti-spam technology and take it to a new level. For us, the sale of the project is also a natural step, because our core business is creating unique linguistic technologies and large-scale services on the Internet. By leaving the information security market, with all its characteristics, we will concentrate once again on producing linguistic and intelligent systems in the area of Internet marketing, which includes “intelligent” context advertising systems, search engines, geo-targeting, etc. The Russian Internet market is growing rapidly, and we have very promising prospects. We are a small innovative company, and we are always more interested in launching a project, selling it and starting a new one. As for large international business, we leave developing that to Kaspersky Lab.”

About Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky Lab (www.kaspersky.com) is a leading international developer of secure content management solutions that protect against viruses, spyware, Trojans, hacker attacks and spam. The company develops its products for a broad range of customers, from home users to large corporations. With 16 years of experience in continuously fighting cyber threats, Kaspersky Lab has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and skills to become a recognized expert in creating antivirus, anti-spam, and anti-hacker solutions.

About Ashmanov & Partners

Ashmanov & Partners (www.ashmanov.com) was founded in 2001 by a group of former top managers and developers of the Rambler Group. The company's principal projects and products include the Spamtest spam filter (Kaspersky Anti-Spam), a system for context-sensitive advertising, a geo-targeting system for determining web user location, as well as specialized search engines.