E-mail gets Forefront treatment

In a bid to strengthen its presence in the security space, Microsoft Corp. is gearing up for the launch of its newest protection suite under the Forefront brand, dubbed Forefront Security for Exchange Server, aimed at protecting corporate e-mail communications.

Forefront Security for Exchange Server will be launched at the same time as Microsoft Exchange 2007, slated for unveiling on November 30.

The suite features a combination of Microsoft’s line of Antigen security products, including Antigen for Exchange, Antigen for SMTP Gateway and Antigen Spam Manager, said Derick Wong, senior product manager for security at Microsoft Canada.

The Forefront product comes with an integrated management tool that makes security monitoring easy for IT managers and can be plugged into existing IT systems management console for centralization, said Wong.

Forefront Security for Exchange Server also contains nine antivirus scan engines for multilevel protection, said Wong.

Microsoft’s foray into the security space has spawned mixed reactions from the industry. At least one analyst believes there’s great potential for the Windows maker to be a leader in the security market, but this may not happen in the near future.

“Microsoft’s products will start off at a functional disadvantage, which competitors will take advantage of by accelerating their evolution toward integrated suites that manage a range of client and network security functions,” wrote Forrester analyst Natalie Lambert in a research document entitled Microsoft Poised to Take a Big Chunk of the Market.

Security vendor Symantec Corp. is not losing sleep over Microsoft’s security play, as long as customers are given the right to choose, said Michael Murphy, vice-president and general manager of Symantec Canada.

“I certainly believe that [customers] are less secure when [they] don’t have a choice,” he said.

Symantec and other security software vendors earlier expressed concern about a security feature on the 64-bit version of the Vista operating system which has effectively locked out third-party software from the OS kernel. Vendors say access to the kernel is necessary for their products to perform properly on the OS.

But Murphy is confident that Symantec has “enough technology understanding to be Vista-ready.”

He added Symantec’s current e-mail security products are able to protect Exchange 2007. Any updates to the current version can be done through Symantec’s Live Update feature.

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