Feeds

MS pushes back Forefront security offensive

Sterling recast and postponed until 2010

High performance access to file storage

Microsoft will delay the release of the next version of its Forefront security product range.

The company's announcement of the delay suggests it wants to improve the technology, but business reasons provide a more plausible - though unproven - rationale for the postponement.

Instead of shipping the product release, codenamed Stirling, in the first half of 2009, Redmond now expects to put it out around the turn of the year or even later.

Forefront Server Security for Exchange (messaging security) and Threat Management Gateway (the next version of what used to be called ISAS, Microsoft's enterprise firewall and caching software) are now expected to arrive in Q4 2009.

Management console and Forefront Security for SharePoint (portal security) are penciled in for arrival only in the first half of 2010. Forefront Client Security 2.0 (endpoint security - anti-malware and firewall - for corporate PCs) has also been delayed till the first half of next year.

In a posting on the Forefront security blog, Microsoft said the delay was needed to add improved behaviour-based anti-malware protection and to improve integration with third-party security applications. The security giant expects to ship a second beta of Stirling and a release candidate prior to the final release.

Microsoft said its behaviour-based anti-malware protection, which it calls Dynamic Signature Service, will help "deliver more comprehensive endpoint protection for zero day attacks" by complementing existing "advanced heuristics, dynamic translation and real time application scanning for kernel level malware with a sophisticated approach to on-demand threat mitigation".

We're not exactly sure what that means either.

Our guess is that Microsoft is actually pushing back the enterprise security release to coincide with the availability of Windows 7 and changes to how it supplies security software to consumers. Back in November, Microsoft announced plans to discontinue its Windows Live OneCare consumer security service from the end of June in favour of a free consumer product, codenamed Morro, currently under development.

Knock-on effects of that rather than a desire to add behaviour-based detection, a term that has more to do with marketecture than technology, strike us as a more plausible reason for the delay.

Blocking malware based on what it does, rather than by recognising its signature, is an easy enough concept to grasp but one that's frequently mired in rival marketing claims. Some vendors describe heuristic and generic detection, which many of the leading anti-virus engines have incorporated for years, as behaviour-based while other make a differentiation and say the technology is the next leap forward.

In other segments of the IT marketplace such confusion would be promptly resolved, sometimes after banging together a few heads. But in the world of anti-virus - where vendors have a hard job agreeing on the names of malware strains or even whether something is a worm, virus or Trojan - terminological mix-ups tend to get deeply ingrained, so don't expect a resolution any time soon.

Some start-ups that marketed behaviour-based protection as a supplement to traditional anti-virus such as Okena, SecureWave and Sana Security have been bought by bigger brands in the security world; Cisco, SecureWave (now Lumension) and AVG, respectively. One of the few independents in this area, PrevX, was last spotted advising the BBC Click on how to run a botnet during a controversial experiment last month.

Microsoft is serious about sales of security server software, and we've met several enthusiastic resellers and corporate users of ISAS over the years. Redmond's strategy on the client end seems more about moving artillery pieces into a stronghold occupied by McAfee and Symantec, tying up their resources in the process, than an attempt to mount a serious attack. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.