McAfee Battles Spyware With Enterprise Add-On

McAfee announces an add-on to its enterprise anti-virus software that boosts spyware protection for businesses.
McAfee on Monday announced an add-on to its enterprise anti-virus software that boosts spyware protection for businesses.

Called McAfee Anti-Spyware Enterprise Edition Module, the add-on integrates with McAfee's VirusScan Enterprise 7.0 and 8.0i, said John Bedrick, a product marketing manager at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based security vendor.

The add-on is designed to detect and delete spyware-style programs such as adware, malicious dialers, keyloggers, password hijackers, and other behind-the-scenes malware that's installed without the user's knowledge. "This is for customers who want to get beyond the top 200 [spyware] threats," said Bedrick, "and protect against anything that tries to capture information on a PC or opens a [security] hole to do that."

The newest edition of VirusScan Enterprise, v. 80.i, released in August with anti-spyware features to defeat the top 200 threats as ranked by McAfee. The new add-on takes defenses beyond that mark.

"Anti-Spyware is the first spyware protection that's fully integrated with an enterprise-level anti-virus solution," claimed Bedrick.

McAfee's not the only security vendor taking on spyware. Computer Associates, which acquired anti-spyware maker PestPatrol in August, released an updated edition earlier this month and said it has plans to further integrate spyware protection into its other security titles. Most other anti-virus vendors are at least dabbling in spyware by adding elementary defenses to their existing AV products.

"We built this with the business user in mind," said Bedrick, taking a dig at rivals like PestPatrol that originated on the consumer side. "It can be deployed silently by administrators, and doesn't add anything to the footprint of VirusScan Enterprise."

The anti-spyware defenses are managed with the same McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) in large shops or McAfee ProtectionPilot in small businesses that IT currently uses to deploy, manage, and monitor VirusScan and other McAfee security offerings. McAfee touted the single manager as a way for IT to save time and money by reducing policy redundancy and training costs, among other things.

"Customers are looking for [anti-spyware] solutions that don't need to be separately managed, and that have the backing and support of an organization able to answer to enterprises," said Bedrick.

Like rivals such as Computer Associates' PestPatrol and WebRoot's SpySweeper, McAfee will primarily rely on both specific and general signatures to detect spyware, with, said Bedrick, "a little bit of heuristics thrown in."

Those competitors, however, have a jump on any vendor, including McAfee, just entering the spyware space because they've been building their signature database for much longer.

Bedrick said McAfee's addressing that concern by, "starting from the top down. We're generating signatures for the most hazardous spyware first. The last thing we'll attack is cookies. Some anti-spyware vendors pad their databases with thousands of cookie signatures," he claimed, saying that although cookies can be distracting, they're not nearly as dangerous as other types of spyware.

The module will be available in the second half of December at a per-node price of $15 for a perpetual license. Support for the anti-spyware add-on, such as signature updates, will be rolled into existing support enterprise plans, without any added charges.

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