Editor's Choice: Exchange Anti-Virus
<b>Winner: </b>GFI Ltd. MailEssentials for Exchange/SMTP 7<br>
<b>Honorable Mention:</b> <a href="#mcafee">Network Associates McAfee
for Exchange/SMTP 7 From $225 for 10 mailboxes to $895 for unlimited
GFI Software USA; 919-388-3373; www.gfi.com
When I first opened the package with MailEssentials for Exchange/SMTP
7, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Based on evaluation of a predecessor,
I knew GFI had crafted an excellent product. Sometimes, though, the newer
version isn’t as elegant as the previous and makes you long for the good-old
days. Hence it was with a considerable sense of trepidation that I slid
the CD from GFI into the tray and let the product unfold.
MailEssentials acts like an e-mail firewall. Key features include anti-spam,
e-mail encryption, e-mail archiving, disclaimers, personalized auto-responders
and POP3 downloading. All of this is transparent to the user, requires
no training for users and little, if any, additional administration beyond
initial set-up. MailEssentials, when packaged with GFI MailSecurity, scans
all inbound and outbound mail. Attachments with a high likelihood of carrying
a virus, worm or other nasty tidbit (.exe, .vbs) can be quarantined and
When it comes to defeating spam, GFI MailEssentials takes a server-based,
rather than client-based, approach. A server-based anti-spam product installs
at the gateway and eliminates the deployment and administration hassle
of desktop-based anti-spam products.
Spam is addressed at the server level by intercepting an incorrect “Reply
To” address or a message header containing an incorrect domain. There
are also the expected options of refusing mails from domains and deleting
mails with certain strings in the body.
Content checking and anti-virus features are now found in the separate
GFI MailSecurity for Exchange/ SMTP tool, an e-mail-content checking,
exploit-detection, threats-analysis and anti-virus solution that removes
all types of e-mail-borne threats before they can affect your users. MailSecurity
is available in a bundle with MailEssentials or as a separate product.
I view it as a subset of MailEssentials, which—while not totally correct—is
GFI Mail Security is available as an SMTP gateway version and for VS
API. The gateway version scans inbound and outbound mail and should be
deployed at the perimeter of the network as a mail-relay server. The VS
API version integrates seamlessly with Exchange Server 2000 and scans
the Exchange 2000 information stores.
I threw all of the test viruses I had on my test network against the
product. And then I tossed in a few wild ones lying around in undeleted
e-mail from my ISP. MailEssentials/MailSecurity grabbed them, quarantined
them and sent messages to the administrator, sender and receiver (which
I had configured it to do) that something was amiss. The messages were
straightforward, and I think it ate the viruses as well, as I never figured
out what it did with the scripts it banished.
MailEssentials does what it was designed to do—identify, hunt and kill
anything that looks like a threat to e-mail security with the quiet relentlessness
and thoroughness of a white blood cell gobbling an intruder in your bloodstream.
And that’s why, a year later, it’s still my favorite.
From $212.50 licensing for five users to $8,022.50 for
But one can’t really address the area of anti-virus without mentioning
McAfee and paying tribute to a product, in fact an entire line of products,
that’s been providing consistent high quality for years.
McAfee’s GroupShield is exactly what you’d expect it to be—a solid, reliable
product robust enough to assure that it won’t let you down as long as
you remember to maintain it. If it’s lacking in other bells and whistles
such as content-checking, anti-spamming and the like, it’s by design.
This is an anti-virus defense product and that’s all it claims to be.
David W. Tschanz, Ph.D., MCSE, is author of the recent "Exchange Server 2007 Infrastructure Design: A Service-Oriented Approach" (Wiley, 2008), as well as co-author of "Mastering Microsoft SQL Server 2005" (Sybex, 2006). Tschanz is a regular contributor to Redmond magazine and operates a small IT consulting firm specializing in business-oriented infrastructure development.