Cloudmark 9 Desktop
- Excellent anti-spam and anti-phishing features.
- Browser-based installer on CDROM is potentially confusing.
Desktop users plagued by spam and phishing emails would be well served running the simple and effective Cloudmark 9 suite.
Price$ 39.95 (AUD)
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Though not as well known as the big brands like Norton and McAfee, Cloudmark is an award-winning anti-spam and anti-phishing application for Windows, and is currently at its second release. Spam and phishing emails plague the net, though a number of internet service providers are starting to take filtering seriously.
First impressions during installation weren't great: the Cloudmark installation CD offers a browser-based installation system, and the browser on our test machine asked if we wanted to download or run the software from the disc. This isn't a concern for tech-savvy users accustomed to installing software, but could be potentially confusing for the less experienced. After installation, the software proved both easy to use and effective.
Cloudmark sits as a small icon in the system tray, monitoring incoming email for signs of potential threats. You can configure rules to define what the PC should do in case it finds a suspected spam or phishing email, including tagging the document, moving it to another mail folder, or deleting it completely.
The software is small and lightweight, and you hardly notice it's there - it just works. Management is extremely quick and painless - just as security software should be. There's enough granularity and fine control over settings to satisfy the most advanced computer users, and novices can simply run with the default options. We opted to test the software on a long-abandoned POP mail account rife with spam and junk mail. Impressively, the software managed to screen-out all bar one unwanted incoming message, with no false positives out of over 750 messages.
The installation CDROM includes a 15-day trial of Cloudmark Server Edition to suit Exchange 2000 and 2003 servers so system administrators are free to tinker with setting up anti-spam and anti-phishing at a server level to protect an entire business or workgroup.
The only real negative point (apart from the less-than-ideal installation system) is that the software has specific requirements and will only work with versions of Microsoft mail software. The desktop product is limited to working with Outlook 2000, 2002, XP and 2003 along with Outlook Express 5 or 6. No other mail software is supported, but this is bearable, as both Outlook and Outlook Express are the most common mail applications for the Windows platform. Corporate customers running Microsoft Exchange servers are accounted for, but those relying on other solutions are out in the cold. This isn't an issue for desktop users, though - just something to consider if you administer a business network.
Desktop users plagued by spam and phishing emails would be well served running Cloudmark. It's simple and effective, but with a growing number of ISPs and webmail suppliers now providing server-side email scanning and filtering, we question how long malicious will continue to bombard the desktop in future.
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