Their biggest clients hit hard by viruses, worms and other attacks, Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. said Monday that they plan to work together to help their corporate customers fight back.
Each is rolling out a system aimed at helping customers better protect corporate computer networks.
By 2007, when Microsoft releases the next version of its Windows server software, the companies plan to make those systems compatible. That would allow corporations to better secure Microsoft's Windows software and Cisco's network infrastructure in one sweep, saving time and money.
The system would screen a new computer for viruses or other threats as it enters a corporate network. The goal is to prevent an infected computer from passing the threats on to the rest of the network.
"This is a hot issue for our customers and a hot issue for our joint customers, and we are driving together to find a solution," said Bob Kelly, a general manager in Microsoft's Windows Server unit.
The companies also hope to create an industry standard for these types of protections.
Both Redmond-based Microsoft and San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco have seen their products become targets for attackers.
Microsoft's Windows operating system and server software have been particularly hard hit, with attackers using flaws in its products to launch assaults that have slowed or crippled — and frustrated — some of Microsoft's biggest corporate clients.
In response, Microsoft has begun a company-wide initiative to improve the security of its products, and recently released a massive security fix for its Windows XP operating system.
Cisco also has been a target. In a high-profile incident in July 2003, the networking equipment maker was hit by hackers who attempted to bring down Cisco equipment that carries the bulk of the world's Internet traffic. Many companies were forced to work quickly to install a patch or find other solutions.