Hewlett-Packard Co. announced this week that it has upgraded its popular HP Praesidium VirtualVault security product and cut its price.

The HP VirtualVault, used by 120 financial institutions in 24 countries to secure business-to-business transactions, can now work on multiple platforms.

The latest version, 4.0, can protect business applications running on operating systems from Hewlett-Packard, including its newest "five nines" high-reliability servers, as well as operating systems from Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and International Business Machines Corp.

Software licenses now start at $17,500, about 40% lower than what HP charged a year ago. The reduced entry-level pricing could make VirtualVault more appealing to small banks, said Dana Hendrickson, marketing director for products, solutions, and services at HP's Internet security division.

"Banks are the leaders in Europe and the United States in using the Internet and giving their customers access to their accounts," Mr. Hendrickson said. Banks see the ability to give businesses access to accounts and funds transfers over the Internet as a competitive advantage, he said.

VirtualVault 4.0 provides a number of other features, including a mirror disk option that protects data and improves Web server up-time by maintaining up to three copies of data on separate disks.

A Wireless Web feature is designed to appeal to banks in the Nordic countries of Europe that want to offer services over wireless devices but are concerned about security, Mr. Hendrickson said. "They can now vault to the Wireless Application Protocol," he said.

Initial deliveries of version 4.0 are scheduled for early December. Current HP VirtualVault customers can upgrade to the new version for free. Installation takes no more than two hours, Mr. Hendrickson said.

VirtualVault 3.5 has been on the market since January.

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