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Sneak peek of Halon 3.0

We have some exciting news about our spam prevention series. The upgrade to FreeBSD 9 and overall refactoring was not the only treatment the SP series got this autumn and winter. We have collected feedback and performed evaluations of how our customers uses the web interfaces, trying to figure out what the best possible reporting and logging experience would be like. Read on to see what this has resulted in.

We have migrated to the new web interface from the security router series. That means a prettier UI, faster loading times, the ability to link directly to certain views using URLs with query strings, and better utilisation of your screen’s full width.

Let’s start with the mail tracking. The new UI provides some benefits of its own; displaying more information, auto-scaling all columns, and faster loading. We have combined the history, queue and quarantine within the same page. It’s pageable with a variable page size, so that you can view as many messages as you like per page. It has multi-select actions, for better queue management (viewing perhaps 1000 messages matching a certain search query, and bouncing them all). Finally, the “eye” icon brings up an inspector which you can use to view details for a message by just hovering items in the list.

The new log searcher is a lot faster than the previous, and can render thousands of lines without hogging your web browser. Most importantly, it can search multiple cluster nodes at the same time, viewing the number of hits (in real-time) per cluster node as a green badge. In that way, you can start a search for an IP address, and then ask someone to try sending the message again, and you will (when tailing in real-time) see a green badge on the cluster node which received the connection. Extremely handy.

The new reporting and graphs are based on the SR series code. That means a new statd which is fast, produces beautiful graphs, with real-time graphs, customisable legends, etc. Best of all is however that you can graph anything you like. To start with, you can create legends yourself; just look at the pie chart in the bottom right width the edit button clicked. You can even use math expressions to calculate values. Even cooler, you can use the new HSL stat() function in any flow, producing counters for whatever you like. There counters automatically becomes graphs and pie charts. I believe this is the most powerful reporting available in any mail security product ever. Perhaps any appliance.

Scripting, such as the system authentication script that allows for remote authentication and custom access levels, has become a lot better thanks to a great scripting editor with syntax highlighting and the ability to test the script using a “sandbox environment”.

The new web UI from the SR series doesn’t only bring nice real-time graphs, but also a true ANSI terminal.

We have made the already awesome clustering a lot easier to configure; with one “create cluster” guide joining two initial units, and one “add node” guide for adding a third, fourth, etc node to an existing cluster.

One spam accounting for ~80% of all traffic tonight

Have you received spam with subjects like

  • Tjana pengar pa ett socialt ansvarstagande arbete
  • Skapa ett battre liv for dina medmanniskor och tjana pengar pa det
  • Vi erbjuder dig ett arbete pa fritiden, lon fran 90 EUR i timman
  • Fa 90 EUR kontant i handen for den forsta timmens arbete inom tre dagar

you’re certainly not alone (and not using our spam filters). At about 7 pm yesterday (Swedish time) someone thought it would be a good idea to send a massive burst of spam. It seems that for many of our customers, that single spam outbreak accounted for as much as 70-90% of the total traffic. It seems that all of them used “yahoo.nl” as sender domain, which (unsurprisingly) doesn’t use SPF.

Fortunately, the combination of Commtouch’s RPD and our own (Halon) outbreak signatures was able to block it entirely, from 6 pm.

We can see that a lot of this was also blocked at IP level. The “normal” amount of IP blocks is almost invisible in the graphs, compared to the spam outbreak. I’ve removed the axis of the graphs, but let me tell you this. One of our customers, which is a large hosting provider, blocked more than 4 million of those per hour. That sure is a pretty persistent spammer.

Developing live graphs

We said to ourselves; “wouldn’t graphs that update every second with live data be useful”, and a few hours later the statd process was tweaked to output 1-second measurements of traffic, CPU, firewall states, etc. and the graph library was modified to dynamically populate data-points (in addition to the “historical” rrdtool file format support that it currently has).

API-wise, this translates into the commandRun API. The normal graphs, populated over time, is fetched using the graphFile API call, which takes an argument such as “interface-em0-packets” and returns the raw rrdtool database data. For real-time graphs, this translates into executing “statd -g interface-em0-packets” using the command-API. While we were at it, we added both “historical” and real-time graphs for firewall states.

In the web user interface, add graphs as usual, and select “Real-time” as time interval (instead of Recent, Day or whatever it says).

Halon awarded with VBspam

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, 02 Mar 2011 — Virus Bulletin has since 2009 given out the prestigious VBSpam Verified award, in order to help customers choose anti-spam solutions which actually keeps their promised false-positive and spam catch rates. In the latest test Halon delivered as promised with ease.

After years of experience on the field; testing tools for spam and malware protection, Virus Bulletin started in early 2009, focusing on testing various vendors in the anti-spam segment. VBSpam tests products by sending vast amounts of real-time spam simultaneous to all participants, to simulate a fair real-world scenario, so customer knows what to expect.

Halon participated for the first time in a VBSpam test, this month of March 2011. Halon achieved a top placement and was awarded with the “VBSpam Verified” award, which was the result of a catch rate of 99,71 % without a single false positive.

 — We are very proud, and pleased to see that our product outperforms larger competitors on the market, says Peter Falck, CEO, Halon Security.

Halon protects and secures both inbound and outbound communication and is being used in business ranging from very small to large and hosting/carrier-class corporations. Halon supports next-generation Internet and mail security technologies such as IPv6, DNSSEC and DKIM, which makes your IT investments long-term future-proof. It runs on many virtualization platforms and on bare-metal.

Halon 2.2.2.2 released with DNSSEC root trust

Today, on the 2nd of September we release 2.2.2.2. Neat, right?

Among the new features you’ll find the DNSSEC trusting the newly signed root anchor, administration user interface improvements and the usual stability and performance enhancements.

Now why would you care? Well, this could be your first step into the next generation of e-mail security. Why not start DKIM tagging when you’re at it?

There are small, yet useful features are well. Let’s say you want to implement a reporting rate control in your outgoing recipient flow, so that users or servers doesn’t send outgoing spam. In this example, we do this per-username ($saslusername, a pre-defined variable in the recipient flow) limiting the number of e-mail to 100 every hour, while sending at most one warning e-mail to the administrator about this every day and per user.

function myrate {
  if (rate("outbound", $saslusername, 100, 3600) == false) {
    $msg = "Rate "+$saslusername+" spam outbreak";
    if (rate("outbound-report", $saslusername, 1, 86400) == true) {
      mail("[email protected]", "[email protected]", "Rate", $msg);
    }
    Defer($msg);
  }
}

and then using it in code like

if ($saslauthed) {
  myrate();
  Accept();
}

Take care folks!

Halon becomes VMware partner and VMware Ready

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, 25 Aug 2010 — Halon Security, is proud to announce its addition to the VMware partner family.

Halon is a complete package for clean incoming and outgoing email between email servers from spam, viruses, malware and other threats. Halon runs as a virtual machine in virtualization solutions such as the VMware virtualization family. Since it utilizes system resources that are already in place, no additional hardware needs to be purchased and powered on, which enables any IT department to lower its environmental footprint and save money at the same time. It doesn’t get any greener than that.

— We are incredibly proud to have VMware put the spotlight on us, a small company from Gothenburg in Sweden. The VSP has done extremely well here in Europe and we hope that the addition in the VMware Marketplace will help more customers around the world find us and this incredible product, says Peter Falck, founder and CEO at Halon Security.

The VMware Marketplace features the VMware partners and their products. A total of approximately 1400 products are on display on the web site and out of these only 29 have been given the VMware Ready certification, of which Halon Security are one.

Halon Security presents new email gateway appliance; SPG-150

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, 17 Jun 2010 — After great success with SPG-100 and SPG-200, Halon Security is consolidating the features of these two models into one great package with greater performance, support for IPv6, DKIM, DNSSEC and plenty of other new features.

SPG is perhaps most easily described as a firewall for email servers. It features all the great functionality of its sibling, VSP which runs under VMware or Xen hypervisors, but is sold in an appliance format. This is a great solution for any customer who wishes to cluster several SPG:s together, or maybe rent a single rack unit space in a co-location facility for an off site email protection solution.

The all new SPG-150 is the smallest model in the SPG family. It features an attractive 19” format that only uses one unit rack space. The SPG-150 can examine, dissect and deal with up to 190,000 emails per hour, which is twice the number of emails in the older SPG-100 and SPG-200.

Customers who wishes to offer it’s users a quarantine to examine email that for some reason has been caught in transit to the customers email server, will appreciate the built in hard drive with a 160 gigabyte storage capacity, which in almost every situation will eliminate the need for an external storage solution.

— The team at Halon Security took the SPG family to a whole new level with the SPG-150, which is mainly designed around customer requests for enhancements of the older models in the SPG family. As always, we listen to our customers and work very hard to deliver solutions that make our customers lives a bit easier, says Peter Falck, CEO at Halon Security.

As per usual, Halon Security delivers a world class graphical user interface for both users and administrators which features intuitive and easy-to-use ways to harness the power of the SPG-150.

In it’s standard configuration, the SPG-150 will protect up to 100 email accounts. Customers who have a need for protection for additional email accounts can extend their license with 50 or 100 users per extension. As all models in the SPG and VSP families, the SPG-150 offers support for IPv6, DKIM, DNSSEC and support for GlobalView as standard, all of which used to be optional features in the older models. The all new SPG-150 is available now at all Halon Security partners and resellers throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. Please contact a partner in your country for a price quote.

Halon attending PTS IPv6 seminar

Today we participated in a panel discussion about IPv6 deployment arranged by the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS). See the full video below (sorry, Swedish only).

First in line with DKIM and DNSSEC

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, 26 Apr 2010 — Halon Security’s popular e-mail gateway is now being upgraded to a completely new version. New features include support for DKIM, DNSSEC, better performance and lower hardware requirements, which together make the perfect solution for web hosting and Internet service providers.

Halon Security’s solution for email protection is constantly developing in order to give its users support for modern standards and exciting new features. In version 2.2 there are plenty of new features.

Version 2.2 has by a substantial work of Halon developers in Gothenburg almost got into a “turbo mode” by significantly lower hardware requirements and properly optimized code.

Our developers never rest when it comes to making our products more efficient and more environmentally friendly. It is a job that will benefit both our customers and our environment, says Peter Falck, CEO of Halon Security.

It has also support for a number of interesting standards. It can now handle domain name that is cryptographically signed as DNSSEC. Another major new feature is support for DomainKeys Identified Mail, or DKIM, which allows a company or organization to take responsibility for an email, and ensure that the sender is legitimate by cryptographic keys that signs each e-mail message.

Both of these standards contributes to less spam and more efficient use of bandwidth on the Internet. These are functions that ISPs and web hosting are increasingly seeking to be able safeguard their customers’ e-mail.

Halon has long been one of the world’s best products when it comes to stopping spam. Now we are also one of the world’s best products in terms of allowing companies to use their e-mail environment more efficiently and safely, says Peter Falck, CEO of Halon Security