RealTime IT News

Symantec Targets ISPs

Starting next month, Internet service providers can offer its subscribers a combined anti-virus/content filtering option from security software developers Symantec Corp.

In the final stage of its beta release, the I-Gear for Inktomi Traffic Server gives ISPs who use the Inktomi, Inc., line of caching machines the opportunity to set content filtering standards and let its customers set their own anti-virus settings.

I-Gear will be commercially available in December, after the last beta testing is completed by the three participating ISPs.

Although Symantec wouldn't release the names of the ISPs, it's safe to assume EarthLink Inc., is included in the tests. EarthLink has a close relationship with the security company, offering Symantec's Security Check to it subscribers as a free service. Security Check analyzes a computer for potential security hazards, referring them to Symantec's software products if there is a potential breach.

Gary Warren, Symantec senior vice president of service provider solutions, said the product is the first to combine two essential security options in one integrated program.

"I-Gear is the first set of integrated plug-ins to offer both content filtering and carrier-class anti-virus protection," Warren said. "This product will give Internet service providers an exciting new value-added service, helping them to stand out in a highly competitive marketplace."

BloodHound, Symantec's patented direct-document review software, scores downloading pages for words that might be considered offensive. Depending on the limits set by the ISP, the tabulated page is either finishes its download or is rejected with a prompt to the user telling them the page is deemed too offensive.

The software also reviews every Web document the user downloads. Windows files, even compressed .zip, .lzh, .arj, and .arc files are scanned against Symantec's database of viruses. What makes the software unique is its ability to determine whether unknown viruses may be present, as all viruses leave certain "signatures" which can be detected.

Don Cahoon, Symantec product services manager, said the service is available only on Inktomi's machines, with no plans to include others. Also, I-Gear only works on the Sun Solaris and Windows NT platforms.

"As of right now, I-Gear is directly tied and dependent on Inktomi and we don't have any plans to include other (caching products)," Cahoon said. "What you have with I-Gear is a world-class solution using the best enterprise-level caching machine. We don't see a need right now to expand on it."

Pricing for the service is established on a per-user basis, Cahoon said.

"The ISP can sell access to the package in any way it sees fit," Cahoon said. "Bloodhound is set by the ISP, not the user, but the anti-virus solution is completely manageable by the user. After the ISP installs the software in it's servers, they don't have to do much to get it running.

"In fact, it's set up well for ISPs who want to set it up on two different CPUs, one running the Inktomi caching and the other running Symantec; it's easy from a loadbalancing standpoint."

To gear up for the ISP-level service, I-Gear officials set up a dedicated technical support center for ISPs to call with questions. Training is also available for helpdesk staff to get up to speed on Symantec's software.

Symantec has been looking at providing an Internet option for almost a year now, when it acquired the I-Gear web filtering technology from URLabls, Inc. I-Gear had, until then, been primarily marketed as a Web content filter for schools around the nation.

Symantec quickly revamped the service, pinning on its anti-virus capabilities and repackaging the combination as an effective security tool for corporations, ISPs and even governments. In July, the G