McAfee has launched a new managed e-mail service which it says will help small businesses handle the deluge of spam and viruses pounding their networks.

McAfee Managed Mail Protection is an integrated anti-spam, anti-virus and content filtering service for inbound and outbound e-mail, the company said. It is targeted at companies with between one and 1,000 employees that lack the internal expertise or resources for e-mail management, said Lillian Wai, product marketing manager for McAfee managed services.

It will be akin to other managed e-mail services offered by competitors Postini and MessageLabs. Customers will redirect incoming and outgoing mail to servers hosted at McAfee's network operations center in California, where the content scanning and filtering is performed.

The redirection adds a delay of less than two seconds to deliver an e-mail, but the service is only available to customers in the US and only works with e-mail content written in English, Wai said.

McAfee is looking into the possibility of partnering with Internet service providers (ISPs) in Europe, Asia and Latin America to open other mail-processing centers in those areas, she said.

Unlike other managed e-mail services that license anti-virus and anti-spam technology from third-party companies, McAfee Managed Mail Protection uses only McAfee technology and is designed to build upon McAfee's established name, Wai said.

Administrators can log on to a Web-based interface and view reports on mail, virus and spam traffic, or review messages left in a quarantine queue. Administrators can also create their own content filters for inbound mail, though they cannot filter the contents of outbound messages.

The new service will replace an existing McAfee service called VirusScreen ASAP, which screened e-mail for viruses only.

McAfee Managed Mail Protection is available now through McAfee and its partner companies.