Security vendors unleash silver bullet

At separate events for their respective customers and partners, Network Associates International Inc. and Internet Security Systems Inc. (ISS) have outlined strategies and product road maps that consolidate many security functions – such as anti-virus protection, intrusion detection, and firewalls – into single products.

At a launch event this week, Network Associates will announce a strategy to for fusing system and network security into a singular security platform. Aiming to reduce the number of software agents required, the company has begun to combine the functions of McAfee VirusScan, Personal Firewall, and its new Entercept Desktop product.

According to Ryan McGee, director of McAfee Security product marketing at Network Associates, combining the functions will take approximately 18 months, and when complete, a single software platform will be capable of performing all the functions that once were handled by three discrete software packages.

“Customers have lots of things to deploy today to get secure,” McGee said. “We’re going to solve some of it by combining three McAfee products.”

Entercept Desktop is Network Associates’ first iteration of IPS (intrusion prevention software) gained when the company acquired Entercept Security Technologies in April.

ISS is also looking to deliver a single solution to its customers. The company last week unveiled Proventia, an appliance that Tom Noonan, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of ISS, said unifies firewall, virtual private network anti-virus, and intrusion detection functions.

“Stand-alone products cost a lot and are not solving many problems,” Noonan said. “We’ve developed a unified protection engine.”

Noonan was quick to point out Proventia is not five or six systems on the same box but rather a single engine that does “deep, stateful packet filtering and inspection.” He explained the product is different from Fortinet’s FortiGate family, which he said requires five separate engines to perform the functions Proventia does with one.

“This product eliminates the need to correlate logs,” Noonan explained. “We open a packet once and analyze it for everything, close it, and route it along.”

ISS and Network Associates both see the importance of a single management console. Proventia is managed by the company’s centralized management system, SiteProtector.

As part of its Protection-In-Depth strategy, Network Associates is also working to consolidate its management schemes. McGee said the company recognizes customers are also struggling to manage multiple-management frameworks.

“The management console burden is getting heavy,” McGee said. “Maintaining servers for management systems is tough.”