When Red Condor sent me an invitation to review its MAG (Message Assurance Gateway) anti-spam appliance, I balked. After reviewing dozens and dozens of products with failed promises over the years, I told the company to send it on, but if it didn't block 100 percent of the spam I was receiving with zero administration as it claimed, I was going to write a scathing review. Red Condor took me up on the challenge, and I have to say the company impressed me.
Bottom line: It failed. On the other hand, the appliance came close enough to succeeding that I can't write anything scathing about it It doesn't block 100 percent of the spam, but it's darned close. I tested the unit over a few months, and on most days I received no spam at all. High days were one or two spam messages. Most anti-spam products result in nearly a dozen pieces of spam in my inbox -- on a good day. The MAG 2000's anti-spam rate was so accurate that I called Red Condor to see if it was manually inspecting my mail to make sure the rates were highly accurate for the review. The office thought I was crazy. And I guess that pretty much sums up the MAG 2000's anti-spam effectiveness. It was so good I was accusing the vendor of cheating.
[ For more security coverage, see Roger A. Grimes' recent review of five sandbox security products in InfoWorld's Test Center ]
Then I sort of caught the vendor in its second misstatement. It claimed that the unit was zero maintenance, with no spam-versus-not-spam training involved and minimal setup. It wasn't zero administration, but close to it, and easily the lowest maintenance of any anti-spam product I've reviewed. And perhaps that is part of the rub. It's an accurate product, but it's a little more secretive, black-box-like, and lower on configurable features than all of its competitors (but more on that later).
Figure 1. RedCondor's dashboard gives you a picture into the product through a Web interface.