Nokia, Trend Micro team on content security

Nokia Corp. and software maker Trend Micro Inc. announced an alliance Tuesday to produce an enterprise e-mail security appliance that joins Trend Micro's antivirus technology to Nokia's hardware and software.

Called Nokia Message Protector SC6600, the new gateway appliance will analyze inbound and outbound e-mail traffic, according to Dan MacDonald, vice president of product management and marketing at Nokia Internet Communications, a division of mobile communications company Nokia Corp. of Espoo, Finland.

"Eighty-seven percent of all exploits enter a network through e-mail," MacDonald said. "Companies have firewalls in place, but there's a river running under that firewall called e-mail, and it has a lot of nasty things in it."

According to Nokia, inbound e-mail and SMTP (simple mail transport protocol) traffic will be directed to the SC6600 from a corporate firewall. For each e-mail message directed to it, the SC6600 gateway will set aside a copy and break that message into its constituent elements. The SC6600 then analyzes the message itself, any attachments to the message, as well as elements such as macros, message fonts, and so on.

Each component of an email is processed by Nokia's statistical inspection engine on the SC6600. If a virus or exploit is detected, the entire message is quarantined and a report is sent back to the message's sender and to its recipients, according to MacDonald.

Trend Micro is providing antivirus technology that will be used in the Nokia message protector component of the SC6600. Other components that perform content filtering, URL filtering, SPAM rejection and exploit rejection are provided by Nokia, according to MacDonald.

Virus signature updates and alerts will be managed by Trend Micro and will be reported to a back-end server operated by Nokia. Those updates will be verified and run through quality control checks by Nokia, signed and then pushed out to SC6600s at customer sites using an automated update feature, according to MacDonald and Kevin Murray, senior product manager at Tokyo-based Trend Micro.

The automatic update feature is a mandatory component of the SC6600, though customers can determine how frequently they want their appliances to check for updates, according to MacDonald. Manual virus signature updates are not possible, MacDonald said.

Outbound e-mail will also be analyzed by the SC6600. Customers can block specific file attachments as well as text strings such as domain names from being sent out by employees using e-mail, MacDonald said.

Administrators will use a Web-based management interface to indicate what information or types of information should be blocked, MacDonald said.

The SC6600 will be a one-rack, dual-processor appliance. The device will use Nokia's IPSO operating system and will be optimized for e-mail message protection, capable of processing 15K-byte e-mail messages at a rate of 120,000 an hour, according to MacDonald.

The device is being targeted at medium-sized to large companies of 1,000 employees or more. It will sell for around US$16,000, not including Trend Micro's per user license of around $22, according to MacDonald and Murray.

Nokia is competing with companies such as NetScreen Technologies Inc. and Symtanec Corp. in the growing market for network security appliances that halt viruses and thwart attacks at the network edge before they reach critical systems.

The decision to collaborate with Trend Micro is consistent with Nokia's strategy of partnering with leading security software vendors to deploy their technology on Nokia's hardware platform. The company has long partnered with software maker Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. to produce dedicated security appliances such as firewalls.

Nokia's announcement of the SC6600 coincides with the company's Mobile Internet Conference in Munich, Germany this week. The company has announced a variety of new end-to-end security appliances that are to be released in the first quarter of 2003.

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