Microsoft Offers Beta of SharePoint Security Tools

The software maker releases a beta of Forefront Security for SharePoint, a set of security programs designed to protect the enterprise content that Microsoft is building into its next version of Office.

Microsoft made a beta release of its Forefront Security for SharePoint software available on Sept 28, introducing a new version of the security applications built to defend the enterprise content being incorporated into its next generation of Office.

The set of anti-virus and content filtering technologies is being pitched by the software giant as a layered security system for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services, elements of the Redmond Wash. companys 2007 Office system, which is also currently available in beta.

Microsoft originally took the security applications onboard via its February 2005 acquisition of Sybari Software, which specialized in server-based technologies used to stop threats from reaching users.

Microsofts SharePoint Server 2007 software is an element of Office that provides enterprise content and business process management features, along with tools for building and integrating Web applications.

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 is a Web-based enterprise collaboration system. When Microsoft bought Sybari, the software maker said it was specifically focused on adding anti-virus technologies that could help shield communications servers from malware.

The beta of Forefront Security for SharePoint is being released as part of Microsofts Beta 2 Technical Refresh of the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

Forefront Security for SharePoint specifically includes an anti-virus system that pools data from several different security software vendors threat detection engines, along with tools for filtering out inappropriate content or programs.

The beta includes Microsoft Antivirus engine, the result of the software makers much-publicized first effort at building its own anti-malware technology.

The ForeFront Security beta also promises scanning and performance control features for use with Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, along with integration tools for companies using the programs in unison and centralized management controls for the various security applications.

"As business customers use collaboration software to connect internal users, customers and partners in an increasing variety of ways, they want to maintain the highest level of protection for critical business information," Margaret Arakawa, senior director of security and access product marketing at Microsoft, said in a statement.

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"Forefront Security for SharePoint facilitates these new collaboration scenarios by providing a layer of advanced protection against the rapidly evolving threat landscape."

While Microsoft has long been criticized for failing to effectively address serious security vulnerabilities in its products, including Office, the company is moving aggressively into the security applications arena while devoting significant resources to reducing the number of flaws present in its new software platforms.

Some security software makers, including a handful of long-time Microsoft partners, have publicly expressed concern over the firms push into the already crowded anti-malware sector.

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