Astaro this week is announcing Version 5.0 of its popular Astaro Security Linux product for small businesses and enterprises. Among the new features in the update are improved virus protection and intrusion detection, expanded VPN capabilities, and support for beefier hardware.Astaro Security Linux is a hardened Linux operating system that includes an integrated firewall, VPN concentrator, SNORT-based intrusion detection system and Web filtering features. The software can run on any Intel-based server and is available as a pre-configured network appliance from Astaro. The company says it has 20,000 registered customers worldwide.Version 5.0 of the software includes an integrated intrusion protection feature based on the open-source SNORT IDS package. This allows an Astaro server to analyze in-line data streams and create alerts on suspicious traffic patterns and data payloads. Virus scanning capabilities have also been added, allowing an Astaro box to scan incoming and outgoing e-mails for viruses, with support for SMTP, POP3 or HTTP\/Web-based e-mail clients.Also new in Astaro Security Linux is Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) VPN support, which allows Windows-based PCs and laptops to attach to an Astaro-based VPN without any additional client software. This can allow easier deployment of Astaro VPNs, since less client-side software configuration would be required.On the hardware front, Astaro now supports symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) which can allow the software to run on powerful servers with multiple Intel-based processors. (SMP support on Linux itself generally ranges from two to 12 processors.)Astaro also supports up to 4G bytes of memory on a system. Both of these upgrades can help improve the speed of compute intensive security tasks, such as IPSec VPN encryption, IDS packet inspection, and virus scanning. Dual Astaro servers can also now be configured for stateful failover, where security services are not interrupted in case of a severe hardware failure.Astaro Security Linux 5.0 is available now, starting at $390, which includes a 10-client VPN license.