Microsoft on Feb. 9 issued preview versions of its Internet Security and Acceleration Server, Client Protection and Antigen products.
The company announced that it is making early versions of the products available to certain customers for testing, citing demand for new tools to shore up security branch office environments and reduce the complexity of managing network security.
Microsoft also said that is acquiring Web filtering technology from FutureSoft to supplement other Web filtering products offered by partners such as Websense and Surfcontrol, according to Steve Brown, director of product management for Microsofts Security, Access and Solutions Division.
The new beta version of ISA Server is the first major update since ISA Server 2004 and comes just weeks after a service pack update for ISA 2004.
The new release adds features that make it easier to deploy ISA Server in branch office environments, said Joel Sloss, senior product manager for ISA Server.
In particular, Microsoft made it easier to remotely manage ISA Servers that are deployed as branch office gateway devices, Sloss said.
“The hurdles for ISA Server 2004 were that you needed a local management infrastructure using Active Directory Application Mode [ADAM]. That required more bandwidth and management attention,” Sloss said.
With ISA Server 2006, policy changes can be propagated from central data centers to branch offices directly, he said.
Microsoft has also added features to ISA that support secure application publishing for Intranet resources like Exchange and Sharepoint servers, Sloss said.
For example, ISA Server 2006 can do user authentication on behalf of application servers, which allows companies to insulate application front ends from the Internet and from brute-force password cracking attacks, he said.
Microsoft also said it bought Web filtering technology called DynaComm i:filter from FutureSoft Inc. of Houston, Texas.
The DynaComm filter is already available as plug-in module for ISA Server, but Microsoft plans to take the FutureSoft database of bad Web URLs and integrate it tightly with ISA Server and other security products, Sloss said.
The beta release of Microsoft Client Protection is in advance of a public beta planned for the third quarter, 2006, Microsoft said.
Client Protection is designed to protect enterprise Windows servers, laptops and desktop computers from malicious code like spyware and rootkits while providing central management and reporting features for IT staff.
Client Protection will eventually integrate with Microsofts NAP (Network Access Protection) endpoint security architecture, also, according to Sloss.
For e-mail security, Microsoft released beta versions of technology it acquired with Sybari Software Inc. last year.
Pre-release versions of Antigen for Exchange, Antigen for SMTP Gateways, Antigen Spam Manager and Antigen Enterprise Manager are the first releases of Sybari technology under the Microsoft brand name and will be released in the second half of 2006, the company said.
The Sybari technology has been updated with Microsofts anti-virus engine, in addition to third-party scanning engines already used in the platform. T
The products have also been certified with Microsofts SDL (Secure Design Lifecycle).