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Brightmail releases anti-virus, anti-spam software

(IDG) -- Antispam filtering specialist Brightmail Monday released software to combat both spam and viruses through a collaboration with security software vendor Symantec Corp., which took an 11 percent stake in Brightmail last month.

Brightmail also has ambitious plans to widen the scope of its software offerings in the future to further appeal to the vendor's target audience of ASPs (application service providers), ISPs (Internet service providers) and portal specialists, according to the company's Chief Executive Officer Gary Hermansen.


Known as the Anti-Virus Solution, Brightmail's antispam and antivirus software is able to block e-mail-borne spam and virus attacks by integrating Symantec's antivirus detection and cleaning engine with Brightmail's antispam filtering server, Hermansen said. He estimates that 75 percent of current computer viruses are e-mail-borne.

David Ferris, president of San Francisco-based market research firm Ferris Research, which specializes in e-mail and collaborative technologies, welcomed the teaming of Brightmail and Symantec.

"Conceptually, both (antispam and antivirus) are trying to control e-mail coming in and out through policies," Ferris said. "Symantec is just limited to antivirus; there's much more to be done to check on e-mail and whether it meets policies; it makes sense to try to expand in this direction." He expects that other antivirus software vendors will form similar relationships.

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Last month, Brightmail announced the completion of its third round of external financing, raising a total of $35 million. The round was led by Symantec, which took an 11 percent stake in Brightmail for $18 million. The pair first announced their non-exclusive collaboration on integrating their antispam, antivirus software in April.

The major development work on Anti-Virus Solution centered around bringing Symantec AntiVirus Research Center's (SARC's) rules engine into Brightmail's Logistics and Operations Center (BLOC) and then integrating it into Brightmail's mailwall, Hermansen said. Acting as a firewall for e-mail systems, the mailwall blocks spam and viruses.

"Integration at the mailwall is our technical advantage," Hermansen said. "Anti-Virus Solution reduces the need to have IT administrators or end clients determine when to update antivirus software, something that typically happens after a virus attack."

Brightmail is not releasing pricing details for Anti-Virus Solution. However, Hermansen said the product's pricing model will be similar to what customers pay for the company's Anti-Spam Solution -- an annual charge of between 75 cents and $2 per mailbox.

Looking ahead, Brightmail plans to offer content control software by year-end, including enterprise tools that will allow IT managers to set policies within their companies, Hermansen said. He gave the example of a policy within a company that would prevent the sales organization from transmitting confidential documents while the legal department would have that ability, as long as the documents include the necessary authorization.

Another priority for Brightmail is wireless e-mail management filtering, a feature the company hopes to offer in the first quarter of 2001, Hermansen said. Multiple mail list management could follow shortly after the wireless software, he added.

Brightmail is also interested in making outbound filtering available, a technology the company has already developed in its labs, should its customers be willing to pay for the service, Hermansen said. Outbound filtering would facilitate the sending of notification back to the often unwitting transmitters of both spam and viruses.

"It's the ability for an ISP to know where there's an open loop in their system," he said.

The company can already carry out e-mail performance monitoring today, but like outbound filtering, Brightmail is seeking the right market opportunity before turning the capability into a product, Hermansen said.

Intelligent unified messaging is another area that appeals product-wise, although Brightmail would need other technologies before the company could offer software, according to Hermansen. As the number of a user's e-mail addresses expand for their work, home and real-time chat mailboxes, there's a need to make the network aware of the best way to contact someone quickly.

"Someone (trying to contact you) would know that you weren't on ICQ and that your two-way pager was the best highest priority way to reach you," Hermansen said.

Other potential future technologies from Brightmail include content routing and bulk e-mail management, the Brightmail CEO said.

Brightmail is in discussions with Microsoft's Hotmail, MSN (Microsoft Network) and WebTV Networks, as well as working with some wireless partners -- WebLink Wireless, Verizon and WorldCom, Hermansen said.

The company currently offers a free version of its antispam software to individual end-users, known as Free Brightmail, but doesn't have any plans to make Anti-Virus Solution available free of charge. "Free Brightmail is a marketing tool," Hermansen said. "It's not intended to be a broad product or be broadly available."

Analyst Ferris doesn't expect Brightmail's main target of attack -- spam -- to lessen any time soon.

"Spam will get worse and worse," he said. "The average user in the corporate world receives about two spams; that will increase five-fold over next couple of years."

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