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Marshal aims to secure laptop content

Will extend its messaging security to control PC files too

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Messaging security developer Marshal is to launch content security software for PCs - but there are questions over how it will work for remote users, as it will require users to be online before they can get permission to copy or share new content.

Marshal's email processing software uses deep content inspection to protect organisations against regulatory non-compliance and intellectual property theft by preventing users from emailing things that they shouldn't. In much the same way, the PC software will prevent them from copying confidential data onto a USB stick or iPod, said Ed Macnair, Marshal's CEO.

"You don't have a physical network perimeter that you can control any more," he said. "You take your notebook home and now you're the company perimeter. So we have to move into endpoint security, because unless you can secure the endpoint, you can't control your content."

He suggested that software to lock out the USB ports or block certain file types, for example, is either counter-productive or simply ineffective.

"Endpoint security is another busy segment, but people aren't doing it sensibly yet - you get draconian 'Thou shalt not' type messages," he said. "What we need to do is apply the same policies that you use at the edge of the network.

"Our rules look at the content, the context, they check for viruses and spam - we run 1800 checks on each email. It's not that 'John' can't send Word files, it's that he can't send out out personnel data. It depends on the sensitivity of the information, so it needs an endpoint that's content-aware."

Macnair acknowledged this means you need both metadata and policies: "We have taken technology from plagiarism-detection software, we call it document fingerprinting. You do have to tell the software what's sensitive," he said.

There is a problem, however - it's not practical to run what's in effect a full version of MailMarshal on a laptop, according to Macnair. That means a PC will only be able to authorise content that it's not seen before if it is online to the company's servers, which could be awkward for remote workers.

Macnair was speaking as Marshal announced two additions to its MailMarshal line - a hosted version for service providers, and a security appliance with the MailMarshal SMTP software pre-installed. As well as content inspection, he said that MailMarshal can protect against threats such spam, phishing, viruses, spyware and denial of service (DoS) attacks. ®

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