Microsoft's Takes Security To The Forefront

At TechEd 2006, currently under way in Boston, Microsoft announced its upcoming Microsoft Forefront brand and announced the launch of ISA Server 2006.

The Forefront brand will include solutions for the clients, servers, and network boundaries. Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Security, Access and Solutions Division, said "\[Forefront will\] integrate with existing infrastructure and simplify the task of managing and controlling IT security and access. The first Microsoft Forefront products will be Forefront Client Security - formerly Microsoft Client Protection - \[which is\] scheduled for open beta in the fourth quarter of this year." Kummert added that Forefront Client Security is currently in private beta testing and the company anticipates formally releasing the product in Q2 2007.

Forefront Client Security is designed to unify malware protection for desktops, laptops, and servers. Based on feedback from private beta testers, Microsoft made enhancements to Forefront Client Security's state assessment scan and single profile configuration. The state assessment helps determine which machines need patches or adjustments to security settings and single profile configuration simplies policy implementation. Forefront Client Security relies in part on data collected from Microsoft's Malicious Software removal tool.

Microsoft plans to release new versions of Microsoft Antigen for Exchange and Microsoft Antigen for SharePoint, to be rebranded as Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Forefront Security for SharePoint, in the same basic timeframe as the upcoming Exchange Server 2007 and Office 2007 launches.

ISA Server 2006 was made available as a release candidate version in February 2006. The newly launched version includes several improvements over ISA Server 2004, including the ability to more easily publish sites for SharePoint, Exchange, and load-balanced Web servers as well as better support for certificate integration. The latest release also includes improved authentication support, new single sign-on capabilties, streamlined connectivity for branch offices, the ability to mitigate packet flooding attacks, and other improvements .

Microsoft will eventually release a Forefront version of its ISA Server product, which according to the company's roadmap will make its debut sometime in 2007. While Kummert didn't say specifically, Whale Communications' technology, which Microsoft is in the process of acquiring, could play a major role in the development of the next version of ISA Server.

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