Microsoft ups security stance with new labs

Malware Protection Centers opening in Dublin and Tokyo

In a move to strengthen its response to security threats, Microsoft is opening two labs to study the growing amount of malicious software circulating on the Internet, security executives announced Wednesday.

The Malware Protection Centers, in Dublin and Tokyo, will be staffed with analysts who will create updates -- called "signatures" -- for its security products to detect malicious software, said Roger Halbheer, chief security advisor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The formal announcement was made by Vinny Gullotto, a Microsoft general manager, at RSA Conference Japan 2007 on Wednesday morning.

The labs will be similar to ones run by competitors such as Symantec and McAfee. Microsoft is doing a bit of catching up: The company has run just one lab at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, which is available, if needed, on a 24-hour basis, company officials said. Microsoft will now have facilities in three times zones.

But officials stressed they weren't trying to directly compete facility-for-facility with competitors, but rather trying to meet a need from their customers.

"We know we are building a capability that others already have," said Richard Saunders, a Microsoft spokesman in the U.K.

The labs will support Microsoft's array of consumer and enterprise security products. On Tuesday, Microsoft said that its antivirus and antispyware product for business desktops, Forefront Client Security, come out of beta and be available in the next month.

The company's consumer product, Windows Live OneCare, was released in May 2006.

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Jeremy Kirk

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