Websense Inc. bolstered its Web 2.0 security defenses with the acquisition of Defensio, a service that detects spam on the blogosphere.
Initially, Websense incorporated Defensio's intelligence into its ThreatSeeker Network, extending its ability to identify and classify spam posted as comments to blogs, forums and other social networking sites. <.p>
Rich Mogull, founder of Securosis.com, said he hasn't seen other vendors targeting social networking sites.
"[Websense is] giving this away for free, and they're using it in large part to gather information," Mogull said. "I'm not sure how monetizable it is, but they are going to get all sorts of info and intelligence out of it."
Defensio, developed by small Montreal-based startup Karabunga Inc., is free to most users who can incorporate the service for their blogs. The technology can be adapted commercially for developers, who can embed its protection service in their social media applications through an API.
Defensio also offers paid licensing to high-volume users and enterprises. Websense will continue to offer the free product for personal use and a six-month free trial for commercial users. Websense will enhance Defensio's service so that social media application developers can embed Websense's content classification.
Websense was primarily known for Web filtering, but widened its portfolio in Web gateway security, data loss prevention and email security with the acquisitions of PortAuthority in 2006 and SurfControl in 2007.
Defensio founder Carl Mercier joins Websense as director of software development, along with one colleague.
Defensio routs comment traffic through its filtering service and quarantine's suspected spam for the site manager/user's review. Comments and suspected spam are presented in a digest routed via RSS feed.
Defensio competes with Akismet, which is also free for personal use and offers commercial licensing.
Like email spam, faux comments on social media sites has become a serious operational issue as site managers have to wade through spam postings that may account for 95% of total volume. And, as with email, a significant minority of those comments are malicious, designed to deliver malware to unsuspecting visitors. Spammers typically use their messages to raise their search engine profile and drive traffic to their own sites.
"There's a lot that can be done through these social networks and hit large volumes of people," said Mogull. "Just sending email spam out is getting more and more difficult to do effectively. It doesn't mean the bad guys are going away. They just change platforms."