Safe and sound

But it's individual services, rather than comprehensive solutions, Warrilow says, that form a large part of the uptake.

A changing threat landscape with more and more multi-vector attacks, and companies looking for solutions with a single point of control and visibility will drive this even further, Scollay says.

"MessageLabs is seeing a distinct trend towards organizations wanting a broad multi-protocol based solution rather than multiple point solutions."

Scollay says changes to the threat landscape will also drive further development in MSS as will other emerging technologies, like instant messaging.

Web-borne threats are an increasing source of concern and Scollay said MessageLabs has recently expanded its managed security services to protect organizations.

"[Our] analysis has recently seen more evidence of spammers employing spyware to make their campaigns more effective, as well as 'link following' to automate download of malware or spyware and by offering Web security to clients we can keep emerging threats away from our customers' networks."

The fragmentation of the market makes provider comparisons difficult, according to Warrilow, who says CyberTrust and MessageLabs are the most viable providers at this time.

But whether the market will show any surge in the immediate future again depends on who you ask. Scollay says the market is growing rapidly, due to the increasingly complex threats that demand specialized solutions and because MSS providers have a proven track record that customers can trust.

Warrilow says there is no single standout provider of MSS at this stage and sees the market as immature so far and says it will remain so unless IT organizations choose to adopt MSS, the surge in e-scams of all sorts may be beckoning more players with Symantec and Telstra subsidiary Kaz teaming up last month to offer managed security services.

David Sykes, managing director of Symantec Australia, said the changing security landscape, combined with hard-to-find security experts, is leading to a rise in managed services. The partnership will offer managed desktop antivirus, e-mail gateway security and secure Web content filtering, 24-hour incident response and fixed-price agreements based on three-, four- and five-year contracts.

In Southeast Asia where broadband uptake is gaining heat Cindy Sim, an analyst at Singapore-based AMI-Partners, says wider adoption of broadband Internet connections creates an opportunity for local Internet service providers to offer hosted services, particularly managed security services. This has already happened in some Southeast Asian markets, such as Singapore and Malaysia. "If the ISPs don't offer it now, they will offer it pretty soon," Sim said.

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