Vendor combines firewall, VPN, IDS

Internet Security Systems has released an all-in-one product that combines a firewall, VPN, antivirus and IDS. An analyst says combination products could be the next big network security trend.

Internet Security Systems Inc. recently announced the availability of an all-in-one network security product that

can help simplify the increasingly complex task of securing corporate local area networks.

Proventia, the new device from the Atlanta, Ga.-based Internet security vendor, is the first to combine a firewall with virtual private network (VPN), antivirus, and intrusion detection and prevention. The device helps IT professionals avoid managing multiple products from different vendors, said Pete Privateer, senior vice president of marketing at ISS.

Rather than opening packets multiple times to examine traffic for each function, Proventia examines packets only once, scanning for numerous features simultaneously. This helps keep traffic speeds up and increases efficiency, Privateer said.

A company can benefit because it only has to deal with a single deployment and configuration for multiple functions, and all of the functions are controlled from one management console, Privateer said.

The system automatically updates itself, so management is minimal, he added.

Because security threats are constantly changing, organizations have had to add new network security features and devices to keep up. A single system now include as many as six separate devices. As a result, ISS isn't the only vendor working on consolidated network security products, said Anthony Allan, research director with Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc.

"It is becoming more important to approach different security technologies as a platform. Combining different functions in one box can be very beneficial," Allan said.

The simplicity of a single multi-functional device is part of what drew Roswell, Ga.-based Osmetech Inc., a manufacturer of blood and electrolyte analyzers, to the ISS device.

The 100-person company had been using a firewall from SonicWall Inc. and the Snort open source intrusion-detection product. But Osmetech did not have any network-level antivirus protection, said Dax Sharpe, Osmetech's manager of IT.

Because of the increasingly specific knowledge required to run each security tool and the growing costs, Sharpe was drawn to Proventia. "A small company can't have six pieces of hardware to run network defense; they just don't have the budget," he said.

While ISS' approach provides a solid security solution for many smaller businesses with limited IT staffs and budgets, it brings another security issue to the fore, Allan said. If security vendors follow ISS' lead, they will find themselves putting out and supporting products in areas where they are not recognized leaders.

ISS, for example, is a well-respected security vendor, but it is not known for its firewalls, Allan said. In some cases, users may not know where the technology for a given component is licensed from, or how good that piece is, he said.

Users will be forced to decide whether to go with a single-vendor system, or a multiple-vendor, best-of-breed approach, a choice they have not had to make until now, Allan said.

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