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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Gets Its First Anti-Spam Program

Leading anti-virus software developer Kaspersky Labs on Thursday unveiled the first Russian program that protects e-mail users from unsolicited messages called "spam."

"We consider spam a kind of text virus that keeps people from working productively no less than real viruses," said Kaspersky general director Natalya Kasperskaya. "The amount of spam has been growing quickly."

Within Kaspersky itself, for example, some 4,000 unsolicited e-mail messages are sent to the company's main e-mail address each week, nearly triple the weekly average for last year, she said.

Russian businesses lose $200 million a year due to spam, said Leonid Reznik, the company's director for strategic marketing. Reading or deleting spam wastes up to 15 percent of employees' working time and puts extra pressure on corporate computer networks, he said.

Kaspersky says the program is targeted to small and medium-sized businesses and can simultaneously protect up to 900 e-mail addresses. For $810 a company can protect 100 e-mail addresses. Each additional address costs $8.10.

"They say spam will kill electronic mail by 2005," said Igor Ashmanov, general director of Ashmanov and Partners, the software company that helped Kaspersky develop a new technology called SpamTest, which linguistically analyzes all incoming mail.

"But I don't think it's a problem that can't be solved," he said.

Kaspersky Anti-Spam is essentially a filter installed at the "entrance" of a network that attempts to determine what is legitimate business correspondence.

In the initial stage, SpamTest scours the content of the message for key phrases common in unsolicited e-mails. Ashmanov said there are 500 categories of spam content, the most popular of which include phrases like "increase the size of your ..." "buy software"; "buy Viagra"; "investment opportunities" and so on.

Secondly, the letter is checked through a so-called signature method, where a message is compared with already existing spam samples in the database, which is updated on a daily basis.

In the third stage, the program analyzes the way the letter has been sent, the name of the sender, the address and the route to determine whether or not it is spam.

Lastly, incoming mail is filtered with the help of "blacklists" -- e-mail addresses that generate spam.

Western anti-virus programs, such as Symantec's Norton Internet Security or McAfee SpamKiller by Network Associates, are used widely, but none perform content analysis of Russian-language messages.

Kaspersky Anti-Spam is not a Russian-only program, however, as it operates in English, French, German and Spanish.

The version of the software for individual users is expected to be released in April next year, Kasperskaya said.

Kaspersky Labs, founded in 1997, has 60 percent of the retail anti-virus software market and 30 percent of the corporate market, according to the company.