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Executive Editor

Symantec tunes up its IM monitoring

Apr 10, 20065 mins
Messaging AppsNetworkingSecurity

IM Manager addresses VoIP and video

Symantec is making it easier to monitor and control real-time applications being used on corporate networks.

With Release 8.0 of its IM Manager software, the company is adding tools to apply security policies to VoIP and videoconferencing and expanding its ability to do the same to instant messaging and text messaging, the company says.

The benefits of the new capabilities are twofold, according to Eric Ogren, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. First, it gives businesses a way to discover just how much peer-to-peer traffic is on their networks, information they might not be able to get now. And IM Manager logs traffic, creating records that can be used to meet regulatory restrictions on how sensitive data is handled.

“You can’t prevent use of Skype and Yahoo Instant Messenger, but you can control the corporate risk,” Ogren says. “And you might not want to block them. You don’t have to worry about software installation and you get business benefits for free.”

For example, network security executives can set a policy within IM Manager that enables application sharing between users via Microsoft Office Communicator and logs all the session data, including who was invited to the session, Symantec says. Similarly, the new software allows users to use e-mail and IM aspects of Google Talk, but not the VoIP part of Google Talk.

“This feature allows IT, not to block these employees from what they’re doing but keep track of it,” Ogren says.

It’s common to keep track of sent e-mails and attachments, but not IM messages and attachments, says Chris Liebert, a senior network security analyst with The Yankee Group. “This gives you the benefit of auditing what is sent,” she says.

The 8.0 IM Manager software integrates its archived IM transcripts with another Symantec product, Enterprise Vault, which archives e-mails. The company says this lets customers store and search these archives from a single console rather than opening IM Manager to look for archives and opening Enterprise Vault to search through stored e-mails.

The new software also can block new IM viruses based on behavior it detects on a network. So if a virus with no known signature starts sending messages with a consistent pattern to everyone on a user’s buddy list, the software could block that traffic as a likely virus by blocking the machine from sending IMs. A person would have to investigate to see whether the behavior represented an actual virus.

Symantec competes in these areas with CipherTrust and Trend Micro.

With the new release, the company is changing the pricing of IM Manager to $40 per seat, including the IM Manager server. It previously cost $25 per seat with a $7,500 fee for server software.

In other Symantec news, the company shuffled its executive ranks last week to simplify operations. The changes include the departure of three senior executives and the appointment of a new CTO, Ajei Gopal.

The changes, which occurred last month but had not been publicly disclosed, are part of the company’s ongoing efforts to manage its 2005 acquisition of storage software vendor Veritas Software. Over the past few months a number of senior Symantec executives have departed, including Bloom, formerly CEO of Veritas, and former CFO Greg Myers.

As part of the reorganization, Symantec now has halved the number of business units it operates and streamlined sales operations to improve performance, the company says. The most high-profile change is the company’s selection of Gopal to replace previous CTO Mark Bregman, who has moved to a technical sales role within the company’s Worldwide Sales and Services organization. Gopal now finds himself in a familiar position. He had been CTO before losing his job to Bregman following the Veritas purchase. Before the acquisition, Bregman had been Veritas’ CTO.

The senior executives who departed in the past month include Steve Leonard, senior vice president for the Asia Pacific and Japan region; Lindsey Armstrong, the company’s senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and Don Frischmann, who served as senior vice president of communications and brand management.

Leonard has been replaced by Bill Robbins, and Armstrong’s job is now being handled by John Brigden. Frischmann’s communications responsibilities have been assigned to Chief Marketing Officer Janice Chaffin, Symantec says.

With the new corporate structure, Symantec has reduced the number of business units it operates from six to three: the Consumer Products and Solutions group, headed by Enrique Salem; the Enterprise Security and Data Management, headed by Jeremy Burton; and the Data Center Management group, run by Kris Hagerman.

The changes will not affect the branding of Symantec’s products, but some customers will notice a difference on the sales side. As of April 1, the company’s sales structure has been streamlined so that customers will no longer deal with separate representatives for the company’s Veritas and Symantec products.

The IDG News Service contributed to this report