N+I: McAfee upgrades WebShield

McAfee Security, a division of Network Associates, used the Networld+Interop conference in Las Vegas to detail an upgrade to the...

McAfee Security, a division of Network Associates, used the Networld+Interop conference in Las Vegas to detail an upgrade to the software that powers the company's WebShield line of security appliances, as well as changes to the way the company describes virus threats.

First, the company announced the release of version 2.5 of the software that runs the McAfee WebShield line of appliances that offer users integrated antivirus and content scanning of Web, e-mail and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) traffic.

The lastest version of the software makes it easier for customers to take full advantage of the product's features, said Zoë Lowther, product marketing manager for appliances at McAfee.

It gives customers the ability to use the devices in a "transparent in-line scanning" mode, said Lowther. This mode will allow all traffic coming in and out of the network protected by the WebShield devices to be scanned automatically. Previous versions of the software had used the WebShield appliances as a proxy server.

When running in the transparent in-line mode, the upgrade is also automatically configured to scan all Web, FTP and Post Office Protocol (POP3) traffic, although e-mail servers using SMTP must still be manually configured to run through the devices.

McAfee will begin shipping CDs containing the free upgraded software to customers within their licence periods in the next few weeks, said Lowther. WebShield devices have been shipping with the new software since 2 May.

The company also said it would change to the way it handles virus risk assessment.

Starting in mid-May, McAfee will broaden the way it describes the risk viruses pose by offering a home user risk and a corporate user risk assessment for each virus discovered, said Vincent Gullotto, senior director for McAfee Anti-Virus Emergency Response Team (AVERT).

The change is needed because different viruses pose different risks to the two sets of users and giving each one their own rating will help both better address the issues, he said.

Some viruses will be more likely to hit corporations than home users, and giving corporations information about that will help them decide what kind of action to take, he said.

McAfee will also change the way it identifies low-risk viruses, changing their name to "low profile," he said. The name change is part of an effort within the company to reduce the level of hype surrounding less important viruses.

The company is also considering prioritising its virus definition updates, so as to ensure that users have protection against the most serious viruses, even if they do not update every time new definitions are released, said Gullotto.

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