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Forefront beta secures SharePoint collaboration

Microsoft now offers a public beta of its Forefront Security for SharePoint so the company can protect its collaborative work.

This week, Microsoft released a public beta of Forefront Security for its portal and collaboration product, SharePoint.

Forefront Security for SharePoint provides security through antivirus and antispam technology, while allowing IT administrators to use assessment scans that show which parts of a network are secure and which are not.

SharePoint lets people work together online, sharing data and documents while communicating with each other. Users can connect with others, as well as processes, inside and outside the organization.

The beta security product is for both Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

Forefront Security for SharePoint uses layers to protect customers from threats such as malware and inappropriate content while integrating with the collaborative software for better server performance and centralized management.

Develop company policies to protect network

Once SharePoint is adopted by many in a company, protecting SharePoint through a security product like Forefront is essential because there is collaboration with people outside the network, according to David Smith, a collaboration analyst with Gartner Inc., based in Stamford, Conn.

"Once [SharePoint] goes companywide and there are sites outside of the company taking part, it becomes important to have security," Smith said. "In order to manage it properly you must also develop policies and best practices."

Microsoft is making SharePoint the "crux of its collaboration vision," Smith said, and he expects the company will continue to add features like wiki capabilities. A wiki is server software that lets groups collaborate on creating and editing Web content. It organizes the individual contributions as it allows the content to be edited.

SharePoint is becoming popular with enterprise users, Smith said. "It starts out as a grass roots effort, and then it becomes pretty popular," he said. A lot of organizations begin using the SharePoint Services, and many end up putting in a SharePoint Server, which aggregates and helps organize all the collaborative work, he added.

Microsoft acquired Forefront security technology when it bought Sybari Software Inc. in 2005.

The final version of Forefront Security for SharePoint will be available when Microsoft releases Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 by the end of this year.

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