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Google Elbows Into Security-Software Fray

Websense and McAfee may not see Google as a security rival today, but in a few years they could find an increasing number of their users opting for Google's products, say analysts.

Google's forays are making desktop-based applications, including antivirus products, increasingly less relevant as the search giant creates a new Internet-centric system, says Christofer Hoff, chief security strategist with privately held security firm Crossbeam Systems.

"Traditional security companies do anti-spam, anti-virus, firewall, and anti-spyware, all of which consumers and small businesses will realize can be increasingly bypassed if they use Google's free, but secure, products," says Hoff.

Soon, larger businesses could demand greater security features for lowered costs, raising the pressure on traditional security players, he says.

For companies like McAfee and Websense, the heat is already on.

The relationship, for instance, has helped Google display a link next to its search results warning users of potentially harmful Web sites. That's exactly what McAfee spent about $75 million on last year.

McAfee acquired start-up SiteAdvisor and made a free toolbar available to users that indicates how secure a Web site is even before clicking on the site.

McAfee says SiteAdvisor is only a small part of its business and that it already partners with Postini. "We are a natural partner for Google as we don't compete with them; we didn't before the Postini acquisition and don't now," says a McAfee spokesperson.
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