PGP, Symantec Team Up To Provide Secure Messaging, Antivirus

PGP, which has a channel-only sales model, said the deal for the first time gives solution providers a complete, integrated secure messaging and virus scanning solution for incoming and outgoing messages. The beta version of PGP Universal with Symantec AntiVirus Scan Engine is available now on the PGP Web site, and the final version is slated to ship with the upcoming PGP Universal 1.2.

"This is a great idea," said Brent Smith, president of ANI Direct, a Dallas-based PGP security solution provider. "Anytime you add more layers of protection, the more value there is to end users. This is another layer of security we can provide for our customers. At the same time, it's another layer of revenue and profit for us."

Solution providers said the integration of the two products may yield increased margins on antivirus sales, which typically have a single-digit margin, in contrast to the double-digit margins for secure messaging products like PGP Universal.

Smith said it was unclear how many of ANI Direct's PGP customers have been hit by viruses. "I don't know if it is a perceived problem or an actual problem," he said. "I do know this completely eliminates it from the equation, which is good news for customers. It gives customers peace of mind."

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PGP Universal with Symantec AntiVirus Scan Engine will be available in the United States through 50 certified PGP partners, said Steve Abbott, vice president of sales at PGP. The offering won't be available through Symantec resellers, he said.

"We now have best-of-breed secure messaging and best-of-breed antivirus through the mail gateway," Abbott said.

Solution providers must be certified by PGP to sell the offering, whose price will run about $7,000 for a 100-user annual subscription to about $50,000 for a 1,000-user subscription, he said, adding that Symantec receives royalties on each sale.

There's no way of estimating how many PGP customers have been hit by viruses infecting e-mail, Abbott said. "We do know it is a concern," he said. "The two best vendors in this space are now providing a total solution, where you can encrypt a message and be assured that it is being inspected for viruses. There is no way secure messaging will become a standardized best practice unless we can make sure we are not carrying viruses with our encrypted messages."

PGP has no immediate plans to ink deals with other antivirus vendors, Abbott said. "Our short-term plan is to focus on the biggest antivirus vendor in the world," he said. "But we are open."

In addition, PGP has no plans to significantly expand its Universal PGP U.S. channel base beyond the 50 partners already certified, Abbott said. "Right now, we have a very structured partner and certification program," he said, explaining that PGP Universal partners must complete a four-day training program and pass a test to become authorized to sell the product. "We are not opening this up. This is not a Trojan horse to expand the channel. We want to keep our margins high for our current partners who have invested a lot of time, money and energy in being certified. Secure messaging is not a commodity product."

The PGP-Symantec deal follows a move earlier this week by Symantec to offer its Norton security products on a subscription basis through an agreement with EarthLink. Through that relationship, which will provide a bundled EarthLink-Symantec offering, the Cupertino, Calif.-based security vendor said it's seeking to increase antivirus sales through ISPs. Symantec also has licensed its Symantec AntiVirus Scan Engine to other companies, such as Brightmail and Yahoo.