Following a path blazed by anti-virus vendors in recent years, security software companies are offering dedicated anti-spyware appliances to customers desperate for relief from the pernicious monitoring programs.
This week, security appliance vendor Blue Coat Systems Inc. will announce the Spyware Interceptor, a device that blocks spyware at the gateway.
Blue Coat is one of a small number of companies to offer dedicated anti-spyware hardware. However, that number could grow, as larger security vendors respond to demand from SMBs (small and midsize businesses) for an enterprise spyware fix, industry observers say.
Blue Coats Spyware Interceptor is a 1U (1.75-inch) rack-mounted appliance for networks of between 100 and 1,000 nodes. The device will retail for about $2,295 plus annual subscription costs.
The appliance uses multiple detection strategies to spot spyware, including white lists and blacklists and signature detection that compares Web content with spyware, said Blue Coat officials in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Spyware Interceptor doesnt block Web pages but does stop "drive-by installs" of spyware from malicious Web pages.
Thomas Trumble, a network administrator for Merrimack County, N.H., and his staff manage more than 80 Windows desktops and servers and find new spyware infections every few weeks, even with gateway and desktop anti-virus and firewall software running.
The malicious applications slow systems and require hours to remove, and Trumble said he believes the new Blue Coat appliance will help prevent those problems.
Blue Coat is not the first company to sell anti-spyware hardware. Tangent Computer Inc. and FutureSoft Inc. unveiled the Packet Hawk anti-spyware appliance this month, and other companies include spyware protection as a feature of Web security appliances, including Finjan Software Ltd., in the NG-5100 Web security appliance, and St. Bernard Software Inc., in its iPrism appliances.
The appliances are part of a shift in focus from remediation to prevention, said analyst Brian Burke of IDC, in Framingham, Mass.
IDC predicts that spyware will quickly become a feature offered by anti-virus vendors but that there will always be a market for dedicated anti-spyware appliances that are priced affordably for smaller organizations, Burke said.