Microsoft Rebrands Enterprise Security Push as Forefront

The software maker uses the TechEd spotlight to unveil a new suite of business security products across client, server and edge.

BOSTON—Microsofts ambitious push into the enterprise security software market has a new name.

At the TechEd conference here, the software makers SASD (Security, Access and Solutions Division) unveiled the Microsoft Forefront brand, a suite of business security products across client, server and edge.

The first product to assume the Forefront name is the Client Security anti-spyware application that is slated for release later in 2006.

Formerly known as Microsoft Client Security, the software was created in-house to compete in the red-hot market for desktop malware protection.

Forefront Client Security provides technology for malware protection for business desktops, laptops and server operating systems.

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An early beta version has been made available to select customers, and a public beta is planned for the fourth quarter of 2006, said Steve Brown, Microsoft director of product management.

Brown said the application has undergone several revisions during the private beta period. In its latest iteration, Forefront Client Protection features a single agent providing real-time detection and removal of spyware, rootkits and other prevalent forms of malware.

This announcement comes at a crucial time for the Redmond, Wash., company, which is struggling to cope with a dramatic rise in malware infections on Windows systems.

Based on statistics culled from the companys MSRT (malicious software removal tool), Microsoft rates the danger from backdoor Trojans and bots as "a significant and tangible threat." Since the MSRT was first shipped in January 2005, Microsoft has removed 16 million instances of malicious software from 5.7 million unique Windows machines.

On average, the tool removes at least one instance of a virus, Trojan, rootkit or worm from every 311 computers it runs on.

Another product that will take on the Forefront brand is the recently released Antigen e-mail security line. The name change will happen when Antigen upgrades are rolled out to coincide with the upcoming launch of Exchange Server 2007 and Office 2007, Brown said in an interview with eWEEK.

"Weve updated the security product strategy and road map under a new name. Its part of a need to simplify things for our customers," Brown said.

A key part of the product strategy is the launch of ISA (Internet Security & Acceleration Server) 2006, an integrated edge security gateway that features firewall, caching and authentication technologies.

ISA Server 2006, which will be released to manufacturing in a few weeks, provides HTTP compression, content caching and VPN capabilities for companies with remote offices. It also promises technology to block Web-based threats with a hybrid proxy-firewall architecture, content inspection and ways to handle alerting and monitoring.

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