Trend Micro Rejiggers Small-Biz SaaS Security

Trend Micro on Monday announced a new and completely overhauled version of its Software as a Service (SaaS) for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

The new version, named “Worry-Free Business Security Services,” replaces “Worry-Free Business Security Hosted,” which was launched only 10 months ago.

“This is a new solution built from the ground up,” Dal Gemmell, senior manager for product marketing at Trend Micro, told TechNewsWorld. “The agent that resides on each protected computer or server is different, and we’ve also dramatically improved the back end supporting infrastructure.”

Trend Micro also introduced several new features to the SaaS product that were initially available only in its enterprise solution.

What? Me Worry?

The new features in Trend Micro’s Worry-Free Business Security Services include Smart Feedback and file reputation capabilities.

These are part of the company’s Smart Protection network, which consists of patent-pending technologies and combines the cloud with light-weight clients to provide immediate protection against the threats whether users are in the office or on the road. “We call this a ‘client cloud infrastructure’ with a very small agent on the endpoint,” Gemmell explained.

Here’s how the Smart Protection Network functions, with Trend Micro’s file, e-mail and Web reputation features: Every time a user gets a file or an email, or accesses a Web site, the system checks that file, email or site against its threat databases. If the email is coming from a bad address, if the file hash corresponds with a known bad or malicious file, or if the Web site sits on a server that’s got an IP address identified as bad, the system blocks access.

Trend Micro’s threat research centers around the world are updated automatically through Smart Feedback whenever a new threat is discovered, either while protecting a customer or in the wild. “Every one of our endpoint antivirus products and gateway products and so on functions as a sensor that provides feedback to update our databases,” Greg Boyle, Trend Micro’s global product marketing manager for small business, told TechNewsWorld.

Another new feature in the SaaS product is behavior monitoring technology. This monitors applications for abnormal activity that might indicate malicious behavior. That information is fed into Trend Micro’s threat databases and correlated with other information there.

“It’s looking for apps that shouldn’t be there,” Boyle explained. “The feature won’t look for something like Microsoft Word behaving abnormally; but you may have a malicious Trojan that’s been installed on your machine that executes on startup and looks for sensitive information to send out. That could trigger our behavior monitoring feature.”

What About Those SMBs?

Why is Trend Micro targeting SMBs when a recent Forrester Research report indicated that the IT market will grow this year but the growth will be driven by large corporations because small businesses are either cash-strapped or can’t get loans?

“SMBs still make up the bulk of organizations in the world today,” Boyle pointed out. “This is a fast-growing sector, and they’ll still need protection regardless of whether or not they have ready cash.”

The need of SMBs for security, added to the sector’s rapid growth, constitutes a double incentive for vendors. “Security is the fastest-growing segment within IT, and the SMB segment is the fastest-growing within security,” Darrell Rodenbough, senior vice president of McAfee’s mid-market business, told TechNewsWorld. “We grew about 20 percent year over year in 2009 in the midmarket business around the world.”

McAfee was one of the earliest vendors to offer a hosted antivirus solution, about nine years ago, and its SaaS business is healthy. “Our SaaS offering totals almost a (US)$200 million business,” Rodenbaugh said.

Another security option for cash-strapped SMBs is security appliances. These are servers preconfigured with security and connectivity.

Appliances require little installation work. “You just need to give our KBOX appliance power and an IP address, and then log in via a Web browser,” Lubos Parobek, vice president of product management at KACE, told TechNewsWorld. All interaction with the appliance is through a Web-based interface, and everything on the appliance, from the operating system to the drivers, is updated by KACE over the Web.

Moving Up

Rebuilding its SaaS product from scratch let Trend Micro expand its monitoring and protection features and add more configuration and reporting capabilities. ‘You can do more grouping and reporting and configuration with this release than you could with the previous release,” Trend Micro’s Gemmell said.

However, existing customers won’t have a problem upgrading to the new version, he said.

“The migration is very straightforward, and there’s no cost to the customer,” Gemmell explained. “It was a priority for us to make sure the migration’s smooth.”

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