Russian antivirus company Kaspersky has launched a hosted email-filtering service.
Kaspersky Hosted Security Services, launched on Monday, is an anti-spam and anti-malware service aimed at small to medium-sized businesses.
David Em, senior technology consultant for Kaspersky, said the hosted service will use the vendor's anti-malware engine to scan email. The technology comprises an antivirus engine plus behavioural technology called Bithunt, designed to protect against zero-day exploits. In addition, Kaspersky's anti-spam technology can be used to place suspicious messages in quarantine, and to blacklist subject-line terms.
The company maintains the email-filtering system is based on its "own technology". However, if a customer wants a part of the Kaspersky service to be integrated with security products from other vendors, that can be done, the company said.
One of the reasons Kaspersky is moving into hosted security services is that the antivirus market is experiencing an economic slowdown, whereas hosted email services are experiencing economic growth, the company claims.
"Kaspersky isn't feeling the pinch, but the antivirus market is becoming more and more commoditised," said Kerstin Reiners, head of UK marketing for Kaspersky Lab. "If you look at IDC's hosted security figures, they're growing. The propensity for companies to outsource email is becoming far greater, and people don't feel so nervous about SMTP messages being filtered in the cloud."
Kaspersky quoted IDC figures estimating that the messaging security market will more than double, from $2bn (£1bn) in 2006, to $4.8bn (£2.4bn) in 2011.
Hosted security services aimed at small businesses are not a new phenomenon. ISPs such as BT already offer such services, as well as security vendors such as MessageLabs, Sophos and Websense.
"You could argue that Kaspersky is coming late to the market, but we're benefiting from the experiences of other vendors," explained Reiners. "We're focusing on [small to medium-sized businesses] with up to 50 users, and we're focusing on SMTP."
Kaspersky already offers web filtering and instant messaging (IM) security services in Germany, France and Russia. The initial UK service will only cover SMTP email, with web filtering and IM services being added in April this year.