Trend Micro boosts anti-spyware defences with Intermute buy

Sign of the times

Anti-virus specialist Trend Micro is buying InterMute, the US anti-spyware firm, for about $15m.

Japanese-based Trend plans to offer InterMute's stand-alone anti-spyware products under the Trend Micro brand. It will also integrate InterMute's anti-spyware capabilities into its enterprise, small and medium business, and consumer security software packages.

Spyware - invasive programs that generate pop-ups, hijack home pages, redirect searches and poison DNS files - has become a top security threat to consumers and corporates alike over the last 18 months or so. According to IDC, 67 per cent of all computers contain some form of spyware, and in some cases, infected computers are host to hundreds of spyware programs. Spyware applications secretly forward information about a user's online activities to third parties without a user's knowledge or permission. Typically, spyware spreads either through P2P networks or by exploiting Internet Explorer vulnerabilities to infect surfers.

Removing spyware and adware from infested machines or blocking infection in the first place has become a lucrative market. Anti-virus vendors are looking to carve out a piece of the action. Trend's acquisition of InterMute follows Computer Associates' acquisition of PestPatrol in August 2004.

Organisations facing the mounting nuisance of spyware can also choose from specialist hardware or a managed filtering service. Blue Coat Systems markets a proxy appliance designed to block spyware at the boundaries of an enterprise before it even gets close to PCs. It has been followed into this market by Fortinet and others. ScanSafe - the London-based net filtering firm - launched an anti-spyware filtering managed service last month.

In January, Microsoft released an anti-spyware software beta following its acquisition of Giant Software a month earlier. Microsoft plans to build anti-spyware technology into the next version of Internet Explorer (IE 7), which is due to begin beta testing this summer. ®

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