Microsoft’s security move puts other vendors in defence mode

Established security vendors may feel Microsoft breathing closer down their collective necks as the software giant elaborated upon plans to enter into the booming enterprise security market by the end of next year.

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By  Chris Whyatt Published  October 16, 2005

Established security vendors may feel Microsoft breathing closer down their collective necks as the software giant elaborated upon plans to enter into the booming enterprise security market by the end of next year. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ball-mer announced this month the company’s intention to release a full suite of security products for enterprise desktops. Dubbed Microsoft Client Protection, the solution — designed to help protect business desktops, laptops and file servers from current and emerging malware threats — is the tool with which Microsoft aims to carve its famous name into the security market. The forthcoming product, soon to go into limited beta with a full rollout expected next year, will, it said, protect against spyware, rootkits, viruses and other traditional attacks. It will allow IT managers to centrally control and manage software through existing Microsoft products, including Active D irectory and the much-maligned Windows server updates services patch management tool. “With the continuing onslaught of malware, viruses, phishing attacks and other kinds of internet fraud, creating a more secure computing environment requires a concerted, long-term effort on the part of all technology companies, as well as customers and governments,” insisted Ballmer. Microsoft seems clearly to be developing a suite of security products to compete with offerings from current security providers such as Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro. “These products are going to be extremely threatening to the existing threat management community,” Andrew Braunberg, a senior analyst for information security at Current Analysis, said in a report. “The existing vendors have made a very good living for the past few years. The key question is going to be whether Microsoft is going to undercut their pricing.” Some of the established vendors have vowed to fight the world’s largest software company toe-to-toe regardless. In February, after chairman Bill Gates revealed Microsoft would release a consumer anti-virus product by the end of the year, Symantec CEO John Thompson said: “I don’t plan to go to the Justice Department and whine about Microsoft’s monopoly. I’d rather fight Microsoft in the marketplace, because I’m sure we’ll whip them.” In reaction to Gates’ February announcement Gartner Group analysts said Microsoft should focus on making its own software more secure, instead of trying to sell security products to its customers (see IT Weekly 26 February-4 March 2005). In Munich, Ballmer also announced the creation of a SecureIT Alliance. Microsoft said this will enable participating security partners to mesh their solutions with Microsoft’s platform so as to build new security features and products for the benefit of their common customers. Trend Micro is one such partner. “Their entry into the market should open doors for us because it will increase awareness,” Justin Doo, managing director for Middle East and Africa, told IT Weekly. “We recognise that working together with the various companies that develop technology that is widely used in the world, is something we must do to achieve our vision of creating a world safe for exchanging information,” Doo added. The software vendor also said it would release a security product for the Exchange server.

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