E-mail security vendors look beyond spam

With spam blocking becoming a checklist item for network managers, antispam companies are developing complementary features and turning to new ways to deliver their technology with hopes of distinguishing themselves in this heavily crowded market.

Observers say the antispam market is taking the same turn the anti-virus market did years ago when it went from an over-hyped sector full of start-ups to just a handful of key players whose products dominate the market.

"It's been a while since I've heard of a company coming out and saying 'I have the solution to spam,' whereas two years ago that happened every other week," says Matthew Prince, CEO of antispam consulting company Unspam. "It's getting to be a mature market, and there are going to be just a couple of key players."

Among those companies hoping to be one of the remaining key players is FrontBridge, which announced on Monday it is adding policy-based encryption to its Total Message Management service for outsourced e-mail security. The company has licensed Voltage Security's Identity Based Encryption, which encrypts e-mail based on pre-defined policies pertaining to the sender, receiver, or content. The recipient's e-mail address acts as the public key; upon receiving an encrypted message the recipient visits a secure FrontBridge Web site to authenticate, read, and reply to the message, says product manager Alan Akahoshi.

The new encryption service complements and goes beyond the transport-layer security that's already available from FrontBridge, which encrypts a message as it travels from the customer to FrontBridge's data centers. Available now, the new security feature costs about US$5 per user per month, with volume discounts available.

Also looking beyond traditional spam blocking is Proofpoint, which on Tuesday will announce an upgrade to its e-mail security software and appliance that aims to ease the administration of content security. Version 3.1 of its software and appliance includes upgraded modules that let non IT-users, such as compliance managers and human resources personnel, administer their own content security policies, says Andres Kohn, Proofpoint's director of products.

The ability to easily set up policies to dictate what type of information can and cannot leave the company network is crucial for NRI Pacific, a Japanese system integrator and business consultant. The U.S. division of NRI has been using Proofpoint's appliance, and the company's Japanese headquarters will begin using version 3.1 to conform with recently passed privacy laws in that country, says Tatsuki Sakushima, IT security manager with the company's San Mateo, Calif., office. "With a product like Proofpoint, we can protect customer information as well as our own intellectual property," he says.

Proofpoint's antispam, anti-virus and content security features are sold as individual models with its software or appliance, ranging from US$2 to US$40 per user per module annually. The gateway appliance for enterprises starts at $6,750.

Proofpoint last week also announced a new version of its appliance aimed at businesses with 500 or fewer e-mail users. The X-Series, due out in July, is priced starting at US$1,995.

Earlier this month Barracuda Networks added outbound filtering capabilities to its line of spam firewalls. Previously the ability to filter outgoing mail for viruses, spam and regulatory and corporate compliance was available from the company through a separate product.

Barracuda is combining inbound and outbound filtering in one appliance to appeal to small- and medium-sized businesses that have limited IT support, say company officials. The company continues to believe that for large organizations, separating inbound and outbound e-mail filtering is the preferred, more comprehensive method.

Outbound e-mail filtering is now part of all of Barracuda's Spam Firewall appliances, and is available to current customers through a free firmware upgrade, officials say. Pricing for these appliances ranges from US$1,399 to US$19,999 with no per-user fees. The Barracuda Spam Firewall Outbound Mode costs between US$1,400 and US$20,000, also with no per-user licensing fees.

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