McAfee launches managed e-mail service

McAfee says that a new managed e-mail service will help small businesses handle the deluge of spam and viruses pounding their networks.

The company plans this week to launch McAfee Managed Mail Protection, an integrated antispam, antivirus and content filtering service for inbound and outbound e-mail, the company said in a statement.

The new service is targeted at companies with between one and 1,000 employees that lack the internal expertise or resources to manage antivirus and antispam products, said Lillian Wai, product marketing manager for McAfee Managed Services.

The new service will be akin to other managed e-mail services offered by companies such as Postini Inc. and MessageLabs Ltd. Customers that sign on to McAfee Managed Mail Protection will be asked to modify their mail exchange record, redirecting incoming and outgoing mail to servers hosted at McAfee's network operations center in California, where the content scanning and filtering is performed.

The redirection adds a delay of less than two seconds to deliver an e-mail, but the service is only available to customers in the U.S. and only works with e-mail content written in English, Wai said.

McAfee is looking into the possibility of partnering with Internet service providers (ISPs) in the European Union, Asia and Latin America to open other mail-processing centers in those areas, she said.

Unlike other managed e-mail services that license antivirus and antispam technology from third-party companies, McAfee Managed Mail Protection uses only McAfee technology for virus and spam detection, and is designed to build upon McAfee's established name in the antivirus and network security arenas, she said.

Administrators can log on to a Web-based interface and view reports on mail, virus and spam traffic, or review messages left in a quarantine queue. Administrators can also create their own content filters for inbound mail, though they cannot filter the contents of outbound messages, Wai said.

The new service will replace an existing McAfee service called VirusScreen ASAP, which screened e-mail for viruses only. In re-branding that service, McAfee has also added antispam and content to the virus screening service, she said.

The new antispam features came just in time for Steve Horne, manager of information systems at Perfect Equipment, a small manufacturing company in Lavergne, Tennessee.

Perfect Equipment's e-mail server was being overrun by a recent surge in spam e-mail, which quickly changed from affecting a few mail accounts to many of the company's employees, Horne said.

The company already used the VirusScreen ASAP service and the SpamKiller desktop antivirus software, which kept in-boxes clean, but didn't alleviate the strain on the company's mail server, he said.

After signing on to the Managed Mail Protection service as a beta customer, Perfect Equipment no longer has much spam hitting its e-mail server and has seen a vast improvement in the performance of that server, he said.

Horne said Perfect is using some of the standard content filters that come with the service and some custom white- and blacklists for specific e-mail addresses. However, he hasn't used the product's reporting features and couldn't comment on those.

McAfee Managed Mail Protection is available now through McAfee and its partner companies, McAfee said.

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