DOD Takes Bids for Spyware Contract

The U.S. Department of Defense deal could be a major opportunity for anti-spyware startups to help protect military and home systems.

The U.S. Department of Defense is soliciting bids for a massive anti-spyware software contract that will protect systems across the military.

The deal could be a major opportunity for anti-spyware startups to score a victory against established anti-virus vendors.

The solicitation from the DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency) is for an automated spyware detection, eradication and protection technology, referred to as SDEP.

Estimates on the size of the contract vary from a few hundred thousand seats to between 4 million and 8 million military systems, if the SDEP technology is adopted throughout the entire DOD and used on computers at the homes of servicemen and women.

Leading anti-virus vendors, as well as dedicated anti-spyware companies, are bidding for the contract and may present a big opportunity for dedicated anti-spyware startups, which hope to capitalize on the failure of existing anti-virus vendors to prevent spyware infections on military systems.

The military is looking for an enterprise-wide solution that covers the U.S. Department of Defense, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves.

DOD employees will be allowed to download and install the software on their home computers, as well, according to information on the project posted on a government Web site.

The solicitation is being handled as part of I-Assure, a $1.5 billion contract to provide professional information technology security services to the Department of Defense.

"This is going to be a substantial contract," said David Moll, CEO of anti-spyware company Webroot Software Inc.

DISA would not comment on the contract, saying that the agency is in the middle of "source selection" for an anti-spyware product and didnt want to jeopardize the procurement of a product, according to Maj. Jack Mast, a DISA official.

Symantec Corp., McAfee Inc. and Trend Micro Inc. provide desktop, server and gateway anti-virus protection for military systems under a 2002 I-Assure contract.

Symantec partners with I-Assure prime contractor Northrop Grumman Inc., and Trend Micro partners with Government Technology Solutions Inc. (gTech), another I-Assure prime contractor.

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