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Nokia Message Protector SC6600 will analyse inbound and outbound e-mail traffic, according to Dan MacDonald, vice-president of product management and marketing at Nokia Internet Communications.
"Eighty-seven percent of all exploits enter a network through e-mail," MacDonald said. "Companies have firewalls in place, but there's a river running under that firewall called e-mail and it has a lot of nasty things in it."
According to Nokia, inbound e-mail and simple mail transport protocol (SMTP) traffic will be directed to the SC6600 from a corporate firewall. For each e-mail message directed to it, the SC6600 gateway will set aside a copy and break that message into its constituent elements.
The SC6600 then analyses the message itself, any attachments to the message, as well as elements such as macros, message fonts, and so on.
Each component of an e-mail is processed by Nokia's statistical inspection engine on the SC6600. If a virus or exploit is detected, the entire message is quarantined and a report is sent back to the message's sender and to its recipients.
Trend Micro is providing antivirus technology that will be used in the Nokia message protector component of the SC6600. Other components that perform content filtering, URL filtering, Spam rejection and exploit rejection are provided by Nokia.
Virus signature updates and alerts will be managed by Trend Micro and will be reported to a back-end server operated by Nokia. Those updates will be verified and run through quality control checks by Nokia, signed and then pushed out to SC6600s at customer sites using an automated update feature.
The automatic update feature is a mandatory component of the SC6600, though customers can determine how frequently they want their appliances to check for updates. Manual virus signature updates are not possible.
Outbound e-mail will also be analysed by the SC6600. Customers can block specific file attachments as well as text strings such as domain names from being sent out by employees using e-mail.
Administrators will use a Web-based management interface to indicate what information or types of information should be blocked.
The SC6600 will be a one-rack, dual-processor appliance. The device will use Nokia's IPSO operating system and will be optimised for e-mail message protection, capable of processing 15Kbyte e-mail messages at a rate of 120,000 an hour.
The device is being targeted at medium-sized to large companies of 1,000 employees or more. It will sell for around $16,000 (£10,236), not including Trend Micro's per user licence of around $22.
Nokia is competing with companies such as NetScreen Technologies and Symtanec in the growing market for network security appliances that halt viruses and thwart attacks at the network edge before they reach critical systems.
The decision to collaborate with Trend Micro is consistent with Nokia's strategy of partnering with leading security software vendors to deploy their technology on Nokia's hardware platform. The company has long partnered with software maker Check Point Software Technologies to produce dedicated security appliances such as firewalls.
Nokia's announcement of the SC6600 coincides with the company's Mobile Internet Conference in Munich this week. The company has announced a variety of end-to-end security appliances that are scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2003.