From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Geobytes is a global company specializing in geolocation and anti-spam software. Geobytes was incorporated in the State of Delaware, USA in 1999 making it one of the oldest companies in the online geolocation industry.


Geobytes was one of the first companies to build a global IP address location database by overlaying geographic user data on to a map of the internet's infrastructure.[1] This enabled one of the key differentiating features of Geobytes' IP location technology in that it facilitated a shift of focus from the physical location of the Internet’s devices to the geographic ‘service area’ of those devices

Consequently, Geobytes has played a significant role in shaping the Internet in terms of its anonymity and with regards to regulatory compliance and the jurisdiction of governments over online content. Its technology has been cited in numerous government and legal documents as ‘evidence’ that ‘Geolocation’ of the Internet is possible.[2]

In addition to commercial applications, Geobytes’ technology has also been used in both civil and criminal court proceedings, in law enforcement, and in the location of missing persons.[3][4][5]

Geobytes is widely referenced – According to Google webmaster tools, as of the July 4, 2007 there were 24405 external links to Geobytes web site.


Founded in 1999, Geobytes' Geolocation services were originally driven by the requirements of the online advertising industry.


The idea of geographically mapping the Internet and the dependent technology of geographically targeting online advertising was developed by founder & CEO Adrian McElligott whilst promoting an email notification tool that he had developed. He wanted to limit the marketing of this product to certain geographic regions, and found that this was possible using the available ad-serving technology of the day. This discovery led to the commencement of the NetWorldMap project in July 1999, and later that year to the foundation of the Geobytes Technology Project.


Geobytes, Inc started as a global Internet Business-to-Business (B2B) technology company, primarily servicing the needs of the Internet advertising industry. The company was incorporated in the State of Delaware, United States in December, 1999. The principal shareholders of the company were, and still are the founders, together holding 90% of the issued shares. A further 8% is held by other individuals who were involved in the project's early development. The remaining 2% is help by the company’s original seed investor.

Today, the company's legal representatives are in Seattle. Its US office is in Nevada, and its Web Servers are located in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. The company's executive and research and development operations are based in Brisbane, Australia.

Early years[edit]

After the Dot-com bubble burst on March 10, 2000, in response to the downturn in the internet advertising industry[6][7][8] Geobytes diversified into other geo-niches such as fraud prevention, site analytics, geographic site customization and regulatory compliance. In mid-2002 Geobytes launched its GeoSelect product suite

In April 2003, Geobytes’ CEO invented CaseKeys and Spamborder technologies to address the problem of spam filtering Type I and type II errors#Spam_filterings, and Geobytes incorporated this new technology into its “challenge response” based spam filter application known as “Geobytes’ m…”, which was later discontinued in 2005 due to the unpopularity of challenge response systems at that time.


July 1999: Adrian McElligott launches NetWorldMap project with the goal of geographically mapping the internet.

December 1999: Geobytes incorporated in the State of Delaware, USA. The company was founded by Adrian McElligott, Kaelene McElligott, and Dr Gerard Brady.

April 2000: Geobytes launches GeoButton geographically targeted advertising network.

July 2002: Geobytes launches GeoSelect product suite, introducing a range of new applications for its geolocation service, including:

• Credit card/online transaction fraud
• Regulatory/license compliance for media applications
• Website traffic analysis
• Providing geo-targeted content to website visitors

July 2002: Geobytes release an innovative flash movie which incorporated live geographical data[9] as a training and marketing aid to support the companies new GeoSelect product.

August 2002: Geobytes launches GeoReport service – a geographical website traffic analysis service.

April 2003: Geobytes enters the anti-spam market with two new inventions - CaseKeys and Spamborder. These products are designed to reduce "false positives" in spam filters - a growing and important problem.

May 2004: Geobytes implements a major enhancement to its infrastructure-mapping technology that overcomes the limitations of the previous ICMP-based techniques that were used previously. The new technique uses packet-cloning technology that can "see through" modern stateful Internet routers.[10]

October 2004: CaseKeys Flash demo movie launched, highlighting the benefits of this newly invented anti-spam measure.

Business model[edit]

Geobytes’ business is primarily funded by subscriptions to its geolocation services. It makes a subset of these services available free through its website[11] and uses these services to help build its market share.

Geobytes' spam management tools are also available for licensing to email providers and software vendors and form a growing part of the company's business.

Technology overview[edit]

Geobytes' technologies fall into two main groups; geolocation services and anti-spam technologies. There is some overlap between the two groups, however - Spamborder utilizes geolocation technology to detect the geographic origins of emails.

Geolocation software[edit]

Geobytes' principal geolocation tool is GeoSelect. This provides a geolocation service, identifying users' locations by their IP addresses. At the heart of GeoSelect is the GeoNetMap data component, which contains the data relating IP address subnets to geographic locations.

The data used to compile the GeoNetMap database is gathered from a large number of websites that require users to enter their location information. This is then processed by a set of algorithms that overlay this data onto Geobytes' infrastructure map of the Internet - creating a global database that can be used to map IP addresses to geographical locations.

The GeoNetMap system does not use WHOIS data, DNS reverse-lookups or cookies; it relies totally on its own proprietary IP address location database.

Similar technology is used by several other leading companies in the IP geolocation field and the algorithms used are claimed to be accurate to country level in around 95% of cases[citation needed]. City accuracy is less consistent and can vary considerably from country to country.[12]

Geobytes' accuracy is enhanced by the unique, patent-pending technology[13] it uses to build an accurate geographical map of IP subnet usage, enabling it to offer a high level of accuracy and granularity.

Geolocation applications[edit]

As the Internet has developed, a number of important applications have developed for geolocation software. For example:

• Geographic Digital Rights Management - essential for live online broadcasts of sport, which are often licensed on a country-specific basis
• Automatically geo-targeting online content by user location
• Complying with legal and regulatory requirements - for example limiting access to pornography in jurisdictions where it is illegal
• Reducing credit card fraud by comparing the location of the user carrying out the transaction with the cardholder's address
• Serving geographically targeted advertising

Anti-spam initiatives[edit]

When Geobytes entered the anti-spam market in 2003, one of the growing weaknesses of modern anti-spam systems was that of "false positives" - legitimate mail being incorrectly filtered off into a user's Junk mail folder.

Reducing false positives in spam filters became the focus of Geobytes' anti-spam product strategy as the company saw this problem causing considerable inconvenience and cost to businesses and other email users.

Geobytes subsequently invented[14] two new technologies aimed at reducing false positives in spam filters - CaseKeys and Spamborder.


CaseKeys technology effectively implements a “Sender Authorization System” without the need for any special software or action to be installed or performed by the sender. Previously such systems would require a user to authenticate, install special software, or to be previously know to the system. Additionally, traditional systems do not recover well from a compromised ‘key’. CaseKeys avoids or mitigates all of these legacy problems.

In its simplest form, CaseKeys is a system that uses a combination of lower and upper case letters to encode email addresses with a unique key. An example might be:


The concept is that CaseKeys software is installed on either the client PC or the mail server which allows every message – both incoming and outgoing to be intercepted and processed. Outgoing messages are processed with each instance of the protected user’s email address being encoded with a unique CaseKey. The CaseKey encoding, the message recipient, and optionally other details of the outgoing message are then recorded. In the other direction, incoming messages are scanned for any CaseKey-encoded instances of the protected user’s email address, with the recovered CaseKey codes being authenticated against the list of those previously issued. Messages found to contain valid CaseKeys are then marked as not spam to prevent spam filters from misrouting the message to the user’s junk folder. Other particulars of the original message may also be recovered and included with the delivery of the message – such as who the original message was issued to and when it was issued. It may even be used to automatically include a copy of the original message for the convenience of the protected user.


Spamborder has been designed around the assumption that very little spam originate from a user's own geographic area, while a disproportionately high proportion of the user's legitimate mail does originate their own geographic area.

Spamborder uses Geobytes' geolocation system to determine the location the email was sent from.

Competitor information[edit]

Other companies that operate within this niche industry are: