E-mail Virus Protection as Certain as Death and Taxes

If you think there is no way conventional anti-virus applications can stop the sprawl of e-mail contagions such as SirCam -- you're right, which is why MessageLabs took its high-end virus-stopping solution to the Net.

 By Alex Goldman
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United Kingdom-based Star Internet originally spun off MessageLabs, its former in-house application development arm, in order to sell managed services and software. Who would have guessed that the Managed Service Provider (MSP) specializing in Internet-level e-mail content filtering services would some day shock the online world by debuting a "100 percent virus protection guarantee."

MessageLabs took the wrappings off its U.S. offices and introduced its first U.S. customer Monday. Operating in 30 countries worldwide, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. is a Fortune 500 firm with annual revenue totaling $5.5 billion. The chemical company can't afford downtime due to e-mail borne network ailments, so it has become one of the first to leverage MessageLabs' guarantee -- which applies to both known and unknown viruses.

Explained Jack Fekula, manager of systems integrity for Air Products, "Since working with MessageLabs we have experienced a 100 percent return on investment -- not a single virus coming into or leaving our organization."

The opening of MessageLabs' U.S. offices coincided with the outbreak of the "SirCam" virus. MessageLabs announced that it stopped the first copy of "SirCam" on July 17 -- about 18 hours before a viable fix was made available to public networks. The first copy of the virus was spotted in the U.S. and spread quickly over the Internet to 67 countries -- hitting the U.K., U.S., and Mexico the hardest.

Scanning the Internet cloud
MessageLabs' software-plus-control-tower solution -- known as SkyScan AV -- filters and removes viruses in real time without slowing e-mail delivery noticeably. "Clients were concerned about latency," said Chris Chilton, vice president of marketing for MessageLabs, "until they learned that a 1MB file takes 1.2 seconds to go through the system."

Andrew Faris, MessageLabs president of American operations, said its anti-virus solution as truly revolutionary for e-mail correspondence.

"Traditional methods of virus scanning are outdated," Faris said. "The lag time between a virus being detected and signature files being made available from anti-virus vendors creates the possibility of an outbreak scenario."

Conventional anti-virus vendors, like McAfee or Symantec, identify a virus outbreak and then create a signature file that tells various systems how to identify and eliminate the virus.

But creating and distributing the signature file takes time -- and downtime as a result of an e-mail viral infection costs companies money. MessageLabs cuts the time-frame down to zero and saves clients both time, money, and worry. Of course, there is a catch -- you must redirect your network's e-mail toward a MessageLabs control tower.

This article was originally published on Jul 24, 2001
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