IBM is launching its own e-mail security service aimed at medium and large businesses. E-mail Security Management Services is a badged MessageLabs product which will filter messages for viruses, spam and inappropriate content before they reach a company's network. A predictive technology also works to identify threats not yet defined.

IBM security exec Michel Bobillier admitted the service was based on an existing set of services from MessageLabs called MessageLabs Email Security System, but added that IBM adds its support infrastructure, and input from its research unit woud allow for continued improvements to the service. It will also integrate with IBM's other managed security services.

IBM's clients had been asking for such a service such for a while, and IBM decided to partner with MessageLabs instead of developing the technology itself because it found MessageLabs' service to be excellent, an IBM spokesman said.

The system filters both a company's incoming and outgoing messages to prevent malicious code and content from touching the network. "Building a defence in the perimeter is not enough anymore. We need a more proactive way to protect critical applications, by filtering these messages before they reach the network," he said. "It's not safe enough to install some defence software on servers and desktops."

The e-mail service is aimed at medium-sized and large companies, starting with implementations of 50 users. It consists of three components, which can be bought separately:

  • Anti-virus, for viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other threats of that nature
  • Image filtering, which uses composition image analysis to flag inappropriate images embedded in messages
  • Anti-spam, for blocking unsolicited commercial e-mail messages

IBM declined to provide pricing information for the service.