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February 6, 2008

Google Offers Security Services for Mail Servers

Google acquired last year Postini, a company that offered hosted services for email servers. "Postini invented the software as a service approach to providing communications security and compliance, and holds two fundamental patents in the space, with more patents pending." Google integrated a small part of the offering in Google Apps Premier Edition: policy management, spam/virus filtering and 90-days message recovery.

Now Google offers the rest of the Postini services under the Google Apps umbrella, but without tying them with Google Apps Premier Edition and Gmail. Google Apps Security Services work with the most important email servers (Microsoft Exchange Server, Lotus Domino, Postfix, Sendmail, Macintosh OS X Server, Novell Groupwise) and offer three levels of protection, priced differently:

* message filtering: anti-spam, anti-virus, anti-phishing, and malware protection for inbound messages - $3/user/year
* message security: inbound and outbound mail filtering, email encryption, content policy management - $12/user/year
* message discovery: the same as above plus one-year message archiving, audit reports - $25/user/year

For educational institutions and non-profit organizations, the prices are much smaller: $1, $4 and $8.33/user/year. For all the services, Google provides 99.999% service level assurance.

Here's how the service works: you change the MX records to point your mail traffic to Google's data centers and all the bad traffic will be stopped before reaching your mail server. Google processes email in RAM and doesn't write the valid messages to disk.
Google provides multiple layers of protection against viruses. The service leverages its visibility to emerging threats by monitoring attacks against our customer base and - in real-time - blocks IP addresses that are issuing virus attacks. In addition, Google utilities multiple anti-virus protections including zero-hour heuristics, coupled with multiple commercial anti-virus engines to detect existing and emerging threats.

As with our virus protection, Google leverages visibility into billions of daily message connections to monitor spam attacks and blocks the most obvious spam. Our heuristic engine then filters the incoming mail traffic and captures any suspicious messages. This is all performed in real-time (processed in RAM memory in our data centers) without delays to your email delivery. With these capabilities, Google combines an extremely effective capture rate with an exceptionally low false positive rate.

Google says that Postini already has 40,000 customers and 14 million users and these affordable prices should increase the user base. Unfortunately, the association between these security services and Google Apps might confuse the potential clients and make them think that the services are only available for Gmail.

In fact, Gmail already includes anti-spam, basic anti-virus, anti-phishing and the corporate version of Google Apps includes content policy management and basic message archiving at no additional cost. Maybe Google will use the data obtained from Postini's services to enhance Gmail's security features.

This blog is not affiliated with Google.