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New bundle pairs Cisco security products with Webex Teams

Businesses now have the option of purchasing a bundle of Cisco security products to prevent data loss and block viruses while using the messaging app Webex Teams.

Cisco will provide data loss prevention and antivirus software at a discount to businesses that subscribe to the messaging app Webex Teams.

The vendor this month began bundling licenses to Cisco Cloudlock, and access to ClamAV antivirus software, with subscriptions for Webex Teams, through an optional add-on called the Cisco Webex Control Hub Extended Security Pack.

Cisco Cloudlock is what's known as a cloud access security broker (CASB). The software monitors for suspicious user activity that could be the result of a hack and provides a firewall to regulate third-party apps connected to a company's network. 

The Cisco security product also lets businesses set data loss prevention (DLP) policies, which block users from sharing messages and files with unauthorized people. Cisco acquired CloudLock for $293 million in 2016.

ClamAV is free open-source software maintained by Cisco's Talos cybersecurity group. When linked to Webex Teams, it scans URLs and files for viruses and malware.

Cisco said it would continue to support integrations with third-party security products for Webex Teams, including those from Bitglass, Symantec and Palo Alto Networks.

Cisco said it designed the Extended Security Pack add-on to be cheaper and easier to purchase and deploy than the third-party services. The vendor declined to say how much the add-on costs because it is an enterprise product, meaning prices are often negotiated.

Cisco has used security to draw contrasts between Webex Teams and competing collaboration apps. The vendor uses a more comprehensive encryption protocol than Slack does, for example, and it gives businesses total control over the keys used to decrypt messages.

But Slack has significantly enhanced its security tools over the past year. Most recently, the vendor gave its enterprise customers more control over how they use Slack on mobile devices, such as the ability to block the copying of sensitive messages and files.

Meanwhile, Microsoft provides DLP and other security and compliance tools in enterprise-level licenses for Office 365, which includes the messaging and video conferencing app Microsoft Teams. The vendor recently extended its DLP tool to include messages sent through teams working in the app.

Security features are top of mind for IT departments as they look to buy team collaboration apps, according to a recent Nemertes Research study of several hundred organizations worldwide.

In the survey, 41% of businesses said rigorous encryption was a top consideration -- a larger percentage than those who identified cost or video conferencing as critical factors. Another 19.6% identified the ability to control the encryption key as a priority.

"As organizations extend team collaboration beyond enterprise boundaries via either guest accounts or federation, I expect demand for these kinds of features will grow," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research.

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