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Vendors Crank Up Email Security

Security specialists take aim at the chink in users' mail security armor

As users look to lock down crucial email and messaging and avoid embarrassing snafus, security vendors are cranking up their efforts to please.

Today, for instance, email security specialist Forensic Compliance Solutions (FCS) signed a deal with Canton, Mass.-based Network Engines to manufacture archiving devices for users scrambling to overhaul their email strategies. (See FCS, Network Engines Team.)

Network Engines, which also builds a storage array for EMC and a network access control appliance for Bradford Networks, will now build U.K.-based FCS's Cryoserver box and distribute the appliances amongst U.S. resellers.

At least one user told Byte and Switch that he needs a specialist archiving appliance to safeguard key email data. "We're able to find emails that were deleted from inboxes," says Charlie Tonkiss, IT manager at London, U.K.-based engineering firm Whitbybird, noting that his industry can be quite litigious.

Whitbybird is using two Cryoserver boxes to store all emails leaving and entering the company, according to Tonkiss. The firm can now prove that a certain email was sent and responded to on a given day, he says.

Prior to deploying the Cryoservers, all emails were backed up to tape, which proved problematic when Whitbybird needed fast access to a specific email. "Before, I would have had to build a second email server to restore all the data onto and then search through the inboxes," says Tonkiss, adding that this typically took a couple of days.

The exec has now managed to slash this search time to below a minute. "I have just used [the Cryoserver] to pick up emails from early 2005, and it took about 30 seconds to find them," he says.

A number of vendors are currently playing in this space, and Tonkiss told Byte and Switch that he looked at KVS, which was later bought by Symantec, and eVault, which was later acquired by Seagate, prior to deploying the Cryoservers. The FCS kit was more user-friendly and offered better compliance features than the competition, he says.

The exec explains that in Europe there are extremely strict laws on who can access email, something which worked in the favor of FCS. "The Cryoservers can prevent people from doing frivolous searches on other peoples' mailboxes," he says, adding that KVS and eVault would have required "various third-party components" to reach the same level of compliance.

Email security and archiving have gained momentum in recent months. In March, processor giant Intel revealed that it had struggled to find some emails relevant to its anti-trust battle with AMD. Emails are also at the heart of the political funding scandal that has rocked the U.K. government. (See Intel's Email Maelstrom.)

Responding to the trend, software vendor Gordano beefed up its Vanguard security solution with anti-spam and anti-virus features, and startup Orchestria is planning to bolster its ability to lock down Web-based messages. (See Gordano Unveils New Vanguard, Orchestria Issues Email Warning, and Orchestria Adds Intelligence.)

Orchestria is focusing not on archiving but on users' efforts to stop inappropriate and litigious emails from leaving corporate HQ in the first place. "People are just doing stupid things with email, and they think that there are no ramifications," says Michael Rothschild, senior director of the vendor's product division.

Email is at the heart of the ongoing scandal surrounding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, and reports suggest that email played a part in the recent departure of former Starwood CEO Steven Heyer.

Orchestria's eponymous software works by installing an agent on messaging servers and laptops, which checks outgoing emails for keywords ranging from "confidential" to "sex." These can then be "quarantined" to prevent them from leaving the organization.

The next version of the product, launched next month, will monitor Web-based online transactions, according to Rothschild. "It will be able to pick up the fact that you're buying a ticket from an unapproved online vendor," he explains, noting that this will involve scanning the text of the message.

Pricing for the upgraded solution will start at $25 per user, although Rothschild told Byte and Switch that he is also planning a hardware-based version of the product for later in the summer.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD)
  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)
  • EVault Inc.
  • Gordano Ltd.
  • Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)
  • KVS Inc.
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Network Engines Inc.
  • Orchestria Corp.
  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX)
  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)
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