McAfee says that a new managed email service will help small businesses handle the deluge of spam and viruses pounding their networks.

The company plans to launch McAfee Managed Mail Protection, an integrated antispam, antivirus and content filtering service for inbound and outbound email.

The new service is targeted at companies with between one and 1000 employees that lack the internal expertise or resources to manage antivirus and antispam products.

The new service will be akin to other managed email services offered by companies such as Postini and MessageLabs.

Customers who sign on to McAfee Managed Mail Protection will be asked to modify their mail exchange record, redirecting incoming and outgoing mail to servers hosted at McAfee's network operations centre in California, where the content scanning and filtering is performed.

The redirection adds a delay of less than two seconds to email delivery, but the service is only available to customers in the USA and only works with email content written in English.

McAfee is looking into the possibility of partnering with internet service providers in the European Union, Asia, and Latin America to open other mail-processing centres in those areas.

Unlike other managed email services that license antivirus and antispam technology from third-party companies, McAfee Managed Mail Protection uses only McAfee technology for virus and spam detection, and is designed to build upon McAfee's established name in the antivirus and network security arenas.

Administrators can log on to a web-based interface and view reports on mail, virus and spam traffic, or review messages left in a quarantine queue.

Administrators can also create their own content filters for inbound mail, though they cannot filter the contents of outbound messages.