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eSafe to ship antivirus gateway

The security firm will release a new version of its software for firewalls to block viruses and malicious code from networks.

Security firm eSafe Technologies will release Monday a new version of its software that works with firewalls to block computer viruses and malicious code from entering a network.

The company said version 2.0 of eSafe Protect Gateway, formerly called ViruSafe FireWall, protects against denial of service attacks by hostile Java and ActiveX applets, scans email, and blocks spam, cookies, and specified URLs.

"The first tier of protection is the gateway, the firewall" said eSafe CEO Yael Sachs, whose product integrates with several top firewall brands. "You can block 98 percent of the viruses and some vandals [malicious code]."

The gateway software is designed to work with eSafe's Protect Enterprise, which checks for viruses and malicious code on individual desktop machines but can be managed centrally. The company also sells a standalone desktop version, eSafe Protect, from its Web site.

"eSafe is building a comprehensive platform for preventing a wide spectrum of attacks rather than individual point products, which is widely said by many customers to be a needed thing," said Chris Christiansen, a network security analyst at International Data Corporation.

Viruses now affect more than 99 percent of corporate networks, largely because of widespread Internet connectivity, according to the independent International Computer Security Association.

But so-called vandals, usually written as Java applets or hostile ActiveX controls, can be even more damaging, Sachs said.

"They can steal money and information too," she added, citing a scam by two pornographic sites that surreptitiously logged visitors onto a long distance phone call routed through Moldova.

In another case, German hackers used an ActiveX control to steal bank funds from users of Intuit's Quicken personal finance software.

"The problem with malicious executables is that generally, from the few attacks I've heard about, they have criminal intent," said Christiansen. "The major difference between them and virus attacks is that they are often created for the express purpose of damaging or stealing, rather than just boasting."

The company also has received commitments for a new round of venture funding, according to Sachs, although the final papers aren't completed. Negotiations with venture capitalists were more complicated because of the wave of consolidation sweeping through Internet security firms. Forrester Research predicted in June that eSafe would be acquired.

Competitors to eSafe include companies like Finjan and Security-7 that block only Java applets or ActiveX controls. Other vendors that address both antivirus and malicious code include Symantec, Network Associates, and Trend Micro.

Protect Gateway is certified to work with Check Point's market-leading FireWall-1 software. It also is compatible with firewalls from Sun Microsystems, Compaq's Digital Equipment unit, Network Associates' Gauntlet, and Secure Computing.

The software is available from eSafe's resellers and ranges in price from $1,750 to $5,995, depending on the number of users.