RealTime IT News

Microsoft to Buy Anti-Virus Vendor Sybari

In a move expected to ramp up competitive pressure on anti-virus vendors, Microsoft said it has agreed to buy Sybari Software, a provider of anti-virus, anti-spam and content filtering technologies for enterprise customers.

The acquisition of the East Northport, N.Y.-based company, which includes both staff and technology, is bound to increase competitive pressure on anti-virus vendors such as Symantec and McAfee, whose AV products are already in wide use across enterprise networks.

This acquisition is seen helping enterprises protect their networks at the server level, especially among collaboration server systems. Sybari's technology is in use among more than 10,000 businesses worldwide, Microsoft said, and helps customers protect their messaging and collaboration servers from viruses, worms and spam.

Lucian Lui, director of product management within Microsoft's security business and technology unit, said once the deal closes, Sybari's products would continue to be sold separately from Microsoft's products.

As for whether anti-virus vendors should be nervous about now competing with the world's largest software company in the AV sector, Lui said the decision to purchase Sybari is in response to the threats of viruses and worms in e-mail and collaboration environments.

"Having a solution for customers is critical," he told internetnews.com. "This is all about providing customers with choice. We think Sybari's approach to collaboration and protection is good."

Sybari's AV scanning engines are integrated with Microsoft's Exchange server, Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Microsoft's Windows SharePoint Services, as well as IBM's Lotus line of collaboration products.

"We see this helping those enterprise environments, where they are focusing on protecting themselves from threats coming into the network through e-mail and collaboration servers," Lui added. "This positions us in a way that we can provide enterprise solutions to customers."

The purchase marks Microsoft's second in the security sector in less than two months. In early December, it acquired Giant Software Company, a provider of anti-spyware products. Some 21 days after the purchase, Microsoft released a beta of its newly incorporated anti-spyware tool. In 2003, Microsoft purchased Romania-based GeCAD Software, which makes anti-virus detection and data security products.

Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the security business and technology unit at Microsoft, said enterprise customers face a complex set of attacks through their e-mail and collaboration infrastructure. He said the acquisition would provide customers with a server-level, anti-virus solution "that delivers advanced file and content-filtering capabilities and the use of multiple scan engines" in order to provide the most up-to-date protection possible.

In addition, Microsoft said, Sybari Software would play a key part in its enterprise security strategy, providing anti-virus technologies that shield communications servers and supply customers with multiple-engine protection that can help with increased detection rates of malicious software.

The company cited a recent ICSA Labs survey that said e-mail attachments are the means of infection in 88 percent of virus incidents in corporate environments, a clear indication that further innovation is required.

The staff of Sybari, which is estimated at between 250 and 300, is expected to remain in its New York offices, with some officials possibly joining Microsoft at its Redmond headquarters.

As far as further plans to integrate Sybari's products with Microsoft's Exchange and SharePoint server products, Lui said Microsoft may look at integrating Sybari's technology into other products, but for now, the company will operate separately.

Sybari has been working side by side with Microsoft within some industry initiatives, such as the IMLogic Threat Center. Formed in December, the group's goal is to help IM users, as well as providers, guard against threats from malware.

Security firms McAfee, as well as IM network providers AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo, are part of the group, which works to provide detection of malware, such as IM-borne viruses and other malicious code.

In addition, Sybari is a member of the Virus Information Alliance, which was formed in 2003 as a way for software security providers to share information about virus threats impacting Microsoft products.

Financial terms of the purchase were not released.