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Microsoft dug deeper into computer security on Wednesday, purchasing FrontBridge Technologies to help customers reach regulatory compliance, while also signing an investment and patent licensing deal with Finjan Software.

The FrontBridge acquisition will see Microsoft deliver a set of services to enforce compliance through archiving of e-mail and ensure system availability by blocking spam and viruses. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Microsoft said it would use FrontBridge to target compliance with Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).

FrontBridge provides archival, retrieval and reporting services for e-mail and instant messaging (IM), protection using multilayer filtering and encryption, and high availability and redundancy through a network of eight FrontBridge datacenters. FrontBridge has 3,100 customers, including AT&T, IBM, NEC and Sprint.

The deal appears to support Microsoft's move into services, and on Wednesday the company outlined areas where partners could serve customers in the small and medium business (SMB) market.

Microsoft said FrontBridge provides a "great opportunity" for managed e-mail archiving, spam filtering, virus scanning, e-mail recovery, policy enforcement and disaster recovery services for customers unable to provide such services internally on Microsoft Exchange Server environments.

The FrontBridge acquisition follows Microsoft's Sybari Software purchase in February. Microsoft said that by owning FrontBridge and Sybari, customers now have the choice between hosted or on-site anti-virus and anti-spam software.

Separately, Microsoft has signed a non-exclusive worldwide agreement to license patents for computer security technologies with Finjan. Under the deal, Microsoft is also taking a minority equity stake in Finjan. Financial terms of the deal were not revealed, although Microsoft is licensing a broad range of patents.

Finjan said it was "very pleased" to be working with Microsoft, while Microsoft said Finjan has done some "interesting" product innovation in the security space.®

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MS axes Unix anti-virus sales after bagging Sybari
Microsoft bolsters email security with Sybari acquisition
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