Stopping Viruses at Exchanges Gate

Microsoft enhancement enables anti-virus software to scan incoming e-mail messages at the gateway, before they get to the Exchange mail servers or users' desktops.

SAN FRANCISCO—Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced a series of enhancements to some of its products that are designed to allow anti-virus vendors to better integrate their software with Microsofts technologies.

The biggest change is the inclusion in Exchange 2003 of an API specifically for AV vendors. The Virus Scan API 2.5 will enable AV software to scan incoming e-mail messages at the gateway, before they get to the Exchange mail servers or users desktops. AV software will also be able to scan outbound messages using this API.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., will also include in Office Word 2003 an enhancement that allows AV software to scan Word XML files. Microsoft accomplished this by adding three flags to the headers of these documents, which will enable virus scanning software to quickly determine whether there is any dangerous content in the files.

"Customers told us they needed more comprehensive anti-virus protection at all levels of their computing infrastructure," said Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the Security Business Unit at Microsoft. "Im excited that our work with industry partners will help customers have a safer, more trustworthy computing experience."

Exchange 2003 will also have some new anti-spam capabilities. The new tool gives anti-spam vendors the ability to scan incoming mail messages and assign each one a numeric score based on the probability that its spam. Administrators can set a threshold that corresponds to that score, and any message that scores above the threshold will be sent to the users junk mail folder.

As part of its announcements, made at the RSA Conference here, Microsoft also said that Exchange 2003 will work directly with the junk mail filters in Outlook 2003. The updated filters in the e-mail client give users the option to create both black and white lists for incoming mail. These lists can be saved to the Exchange server so that theyre available to mobile users who utilize Outlook Web Access, as well.

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