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Security specialist to add Web-filtering tools

ServGate will offer the new capabilities as an add-on module for its software, which it markets as a "contextually aware firewall."

ServGate, a security software and device specialist, will add Web-filtering tools to its package of IT defense applications next week.

The company on Monday said it will begin offering software aimed at helping customers block pop-up ads, inappropriate Web sites and viruses borne by Web browsers. The application will be sold as an add-on module to ServGate's existing products and will cost $895 for 50 users.

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ServGate has built a niche by marketing security firewall systems that allow customers to turn on tools such as virus filtering, spam protection and URL filtering. Under the company's pricing model, customers pay annual subscription fees to receive frequent updates to the security applications. According to company executives, customers have increasingly expressed concerns over new forms of viruses that are often hidden in Web sites and in images sent via e-mail.

For instance, last month Apple Computer was forced to grapple with a security hole that threatened its Mac OS X software. The scheme worked by allowing an attacker to transfer and then run a malicious program on a computer if the machine's owner could be enticed to go to a fake Web page on which the program has been placed. Experts called the Web-oriented attack the first "critical vulnerability" found in Apple's new operating system.

Milpitas, Calif.-based ServGate mixes its own technology with products from several larger companies, including McAfee antivirus and spam-control tools made by Network Associates, as well as Web and e-mail filtering systems built by SurfControl. The company markets its software as a "contextually aware firewall" that monitors and protects against security threats at the so-called edge of a company's IT systems.

"Web traffic has flipped to the edge of the network, and that's where businesses need to redouble their security efforts," said Atchison Frazer, a vice president at ServGate. "We're offering a consolidated package that integrates technology that companies struggle to tie together themselves."

Frazer pointed to the recently announced buyout of security equipment maker NetScreen by Juniper Networks, a maker of networking gear, as proof that the market is increasingly leaning toward addressing IT systems protection at network perimeters.