Microsoft unveils security strategy and software tools


7 Oct 2005

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Microsoft has taken the wraps off new security products for business customers, as well as a scheme to improve collaboration between suppliers in the IT security market. The product road map and industry initiative form part of Microsoft’s company-wide security strategy.

On the product side, Microsoft Client Protection software is aimed at protecting business desktops, laptops and file servers by providing unified protection against emerging threats such as spyware and rootkits, as well as viruses and other traditional attacks.

It also has an integrated management console to allow IT administrators to control the security environment and it issues reports and alerts. Unlike many other security products that guard against specific threats, Microsoft has taken a defence-in-depth approach, protecting systems from attacks through several different sources.

The software giant said that this comes in response to customer feedback for a single product to tackle all of these increasingly related issues. “That’s what our customers have asked us for; they want an easy solution to manage client security. Its strength is, it integrates with Windows, Office and Active Directory – all the technologies our customers are already using,” said Mike Hughes, security programme manager with Microsoft Ireland.

Client Protection is still in development and an early beta of the product will be available later this year. No details of pricing and licensing have been released.

Microsoft also announced plans to release antivirus and anti-spam security software for the Exchange messaging platform. It will carry the Antigen brand and is based on technology from Sybari Software, the company recently acquired by Microsoft. Microsoft will add its own antivirus scan engine to the product and the product has been designed to allow customers to run multiple antivirus engines from different suppliers for deeper levels of protection, Hughes confirmed. A beta version of Microsoft Antigen for Exchange is slated for release in the first half of next year.

Microsoft doesn’t expect customers to jettison their investment in existing security tools in order to deploy its offerings. “The development of these products is not intended to oust other products,” Hughes stressed. “It’s up to each customer how they deploy security. Microsoft isn’t positioning itself as having all the answers.”

In a related development, Microsoft has formed the SecureIT Alliance, an industry-wide grouping of product suppliers aimed at helping participants’ products to work better together. Those signed up to take part include McAfee Symantec, Trend Micro and Verisign. The group will attempt to make it easier for businesses to roll out security technologies from different vendors on their own IT infrastructure. It will also act as a think-tank to study new and emerging security threats. “The fact that so many members are coming together – for example, you’ve got McAfee and Symantec in the same room – shows how seriously everyone is taking it. The focus is on the customer, not gaining market share,” said Hughes.

A white paper outlining the strategy and product road map in more detail is available at http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/enterprise/default.mspx.

By Gordon Smith