Symantec broadens e-mail security

Symantec broadens e-mail security

Symantec this week plans to announce an integrated e-mail gateway product that represents the beginning of the company's multiyear strategy for competing in the enterprise messaging security market.

Symantec Mail Security for SMTP 5.0 is an upgrade to a product the company has sold since shortly after it bought antispam software maker Brightmail two years ago. Version 5.0 goes beyond the previous release by including content filtering along with gateway antispam and antivirus features, and by integrating the once-separate products to the point that the Brightmail name is no longer used.

The key advantage of integrating these gateway software products is easier administration for enterprises, from tracking the path an e-mail takes on entering the network to establishing one set of policies for virus, spam and content filtering functions, says Rick Caccia, senior director of product management with Symantec's enterprise messaging management group. Symantec is in a position to provide a soup-to-nuts approach to messaging security, because it has developed or acquired nearly all of the technology that enterprises need today to protect their e-mail, he says.

"Until recently it was hard to buy a complete way to manage" e-mail security, Caccia says. "But the market is changing and customers are asking for more from one vendor."

Symantec plans to integrate more of the products in its enterprise messaging management group so that there are fewer offerings with more features, Caccia says. The company will continue to sell its e-mail security appliance and hosted service as separate offerings, he says, although features from Symantec Mail Security for SMTP 5.0 will end up in those products as well.

"The advantage of having an integrated antispam, antivirus and content filtering product is that it provides a single solution to combat the majority of e-mail security issues," says Nathan Pilgrim, manager of IT infrastructure and communications with Brisbane Girls Grammer School in Australia, which has about 1,300 e-mail users. "From a management point of view it is a lot easier to manage a single product from one vendor than multiple products from different vendors."

Symantec is not alone in offering antivirus, antispam and content filtering in one enterprise package. Hosted service providers Postini and MessageLabs, gateway software and hardware makers Proofpoint and Mirapoint, and appliance vendors IronPort and CipherTrust are competitors offering these features and more. However, Symantec is one of the few companies that owns all the parts in its enterprise offering - most of its competitors license antispam or antivirus filters or both, and often from Symantec.

With this release of its e-mail security package, Symantec also is adding features such as message tracking and LiveUpdate.

"Symantec wants to be the enterprise messaging vendor of choice," says Eric Ogren, an Enterprise Strategy Group analyst. "Messaging tracking and LiveUpdate are the kinds of things Symantec does better than anyone else."

Not everyone agrees with Symantec's view that the market for messaging security is being whittled down to those companies that can provide one-stop shopping. Just a few years ago the market consisted of dozens of vendors making antispam filters, but it has evolved into companies with more complete offerings including compliance, archiving, encryption, instant-messaging protection and more.

"Symantec is taking all their individual components and stitching them together, while we take the best of breed and stitch them together," says Tom Gillis, senior vice president of worldwide marketing with IronPort, which licenses Symantec's Brightmail antispam filters and its antivirus software to resell with its gateway appliances.

"Symantec's products appeal to someone looking for a single vendor, but we've been successful in more sophisticated accounts where the customer understands [the need for] multiple layers and multiple vendor strategies."

Symantec Mail Security for SMTP 5.0 is slated for release in May. Pricing ranges depending on the number of users; for example, organizations with 500 to 1,999 users would pay US$18.70 per user, per year.

New features include zero-day virus protection, which quarantines e-mails suspected to be viruses based on the messages' characteristics until a signature is produced, says Matt Hartwell-Herrero, senior product manager.

New content-filtering features include regular expression and keyword scanning of more than 200 attachment types, and can determine an attachment's true file type by inspecting it physically, instead of relying on the name of the extension, he says.

Administrative features include graphical message auditing to search for e-mails by a variety of characteristics, such as sender or recipient, and show the path that a message has taken through the organization. Also with this release, Symantec has integrated its LiveUpdate antivirus technology, which automatically updates policies, to work with its antispam features.

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