Nortel, Symantec partner on network security

Nortel Networks Corp. and Symantec Corp. will jointly deliver products designed to help companies filter out Internet attacks before they reach servers and other corporate systems, the two firms announced Tuesday.

Nortel also released enhancements to several of its network security products as part of its continuing effort to expand its portfolio of services and technologies in this market. Under the partnership with Symantec, Nortel will begin shipping application switches featuring Symantec’s signature-based antivirus and intrusion-detection technologies sometime in 2005.

The two companies have already developed a prototype system that combines Nortel’s deep-packet inspection network technology with Symantec’s LiveUpdate software to help users identify and stop network threats in real time, said officials at both firms.

A commercial version is being readied for release next year, said Peter Cellarius, business leader for wireless security and applications at Nortel. “What we are announcing … is the establishment of a broad-based relationship that brings together some of the most sophisticated threat identification mechanisms with some of the most high-performance and resilient network technologies.”

But details about “when, where and how” the Nortel products with Symantec’s technology will be available aren’t being released for now, he added.

Among the products Nortel announced yesterday were a new VPN Gateway and an Ethernet routing switch featuring support for up to four integrated firewalls. The company also announced a new Snort-based Nortel Threat Protection System, which looks for anomalies and variations in network behavior to preemptively detect and shut down malicious activity.

Nortel customer Coppin State University in Baltimore has been beta-testing the threat protection system for the past four months. So far, the technology has proved “very useful” in detecting threats before they reached the university’s antivirus shields, said CIO Ahmed El-Haggan.

Brampton, Ont.-based Nortel, like rival Cisco Systems Inc., is trying to integrate more security functions into the network equipment it sells. The latest move builds on that effort, said Aaron Vance, an analyst at Synergy Research Group in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Now they have a story on the intrusion detection and prevention side as well,” Vance said.

Going forward, expect to see network vendors integrate more functions into their technologies, Vance said. Firewalls, virtual private networks and antivirus tools that used to be sold separately will increasingly become available as “features on more traditional switches and access routers,” he said.

“It just helps to simplify the network, makes management a lot easier and you don’t incur as much cost.”

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