RealTime IT News

McAfee And The Product Stack

Anti-virus and security software provider McAfee  is moving up its own product stack with the purchase of Web site ratings specialist SiteAdvisor.

The company said it plans to use SiteAdvisor's database of tested and rated Web sites with its own product set, targeting both consumers and business customers.

The purchase announcement (which didn't include a price tag), and SiteAdvisor's patent-pending technology, put McAfee in the forefront of the latest trend of meshing browsers and security.

SiteAdvisor's software runs as a plug-in.

The applications help surfers identify potentially dangerous sites that might be trying to trick the user with "social engineering" phishing gambits, or sneak in spyware or adware on surfers' machines.

By deploying Web crawlers and virtual machines, SiteAdvisor studies sites to suss out Web sites with malicious intent. Such sites get a red balloon warning light in the plug-in to warn the user about a site.

Yellow or green balloons indicate a safer site. SiteAdvisor also builds annotations on search engine results pages.

The software is one among a bevy of solutions software providers are using to build new layers of protection from the guts of the computing machine up to the applications deployed on a Web site.

McAfee is aware of the new competition in its space.

Take Microsoft: The next version of Internet Explorer, IE7, which is in beta, deploys similar color-based warning signs in the browser toolbar with what's called a phishing filter.

In addition, Microsoft and digital certificate provider VeriSign are partnering to integrate VeriSign's Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates and its just-launched VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) offering with IE7.

This product also offers red and green warning signs that tell the user when they're on a site that it might be a dicey Web visit.

That's on top of Microsoft's big step into McAfee's space with the release of its Windows Live OneCare security product updates service, which has been in beta since last fall.

Although analysts such as Jupiter Research's Joe Wilcox called out Microsoft on recent glitches with the beta, the offering is similar to the tuning, maintenance and anti-spyware and anti-virus protection offered by McAfee and rival Symantec.

McAfee may be feeling the heat, but it isn't sitting still. Just this week, it rolled out a new strategy to make it easier for resellers to talk up McAfee products with their customers.

Called Total Protection, the offering weaves all the McAfee products into a single console that resellers can use to help monitor customers' networks, or install for their customers.

The software includes anti-virus protection for all tiers of the network, anti-spyware, anti-spam, desktop firewall, host intrusion prevention and a complete network access control system, said Lillian Wai, senior product marketing manager for McAfee.

"It gives our partners an ability to offer remote management to help manage multiple customers, using a single management console," Wai told internetnews.com. "Not only can they sell the new suite, but partners can use the products to help monitor their customers' networks if need be," she added.

The offering is one of the largest go-to-market strategies in the past decade for McAfee, she added, noting that McAfee is carving out a new strategic direction in Internet security.

Chris Christiansen, IDC VP of security products and services, said security threats are driving the integrated approach.

"As the complexity of managing security increases, customers are demanding more integrated solutions," Christiansen said. "IT security is increasingly moving away from a focus on a single type of protection, such as anti-virus, toward a focus on broad protection from a wide range of emerging threats to enterprise security."