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Radware risks wipeout with new security strategy

The application-switching vendor is offering a new combo appliance that guards against worms, viruses and DoS attacks. Despite an enthusiastic beta customer, experts say the company will need to catch a big wave of luck to succeed.

Application-switching vendor Radware Ltd. today is taking a potentially risky step into the crowded network security market.

The DefensePro intrusion-detection appliance is designed to guard against distributed denial-of-service attacks such as SYN flood attacks, as well as worms and viruses. The product monitors traffic in both directions, from layer two through seven.

"This product is a natural extension of what we already do," said Vikram Desai, chief operating officer of Tel Aviv, Israel-based Radware, which is best known for its load-balancing products. Since Radware's application-switching products are already peeking into each packet, it might as well scan for viruses and other types of harmful traffic, Desai said.

DefensePro allows 3 gigabits of throughput, which Desai says is many times faster than products from other vendors. The product can also scan for up to 1,200 attack signatures. Updates can be performed manually -- users can be alerted by pager or e-mail when an update is required -- or by an automated Java applet.

Administrators can use the device to identify abnormal traffic patterns by setting traffic thresholds. If, for example, SMTP traffic exceeds normal levels, it can be slowed to help stem the attack, said Michael Rothschild, Radware's senior marketing analyst.

One of the reasons companies may be drawn to this product is that it can be integrated with Radware's load-balancing products, said Chris Christiansen, an analyst with Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp. Companies have found that best-of-breed security products are complex and do not work well together, so combining an intrusion-detection system with a load balancer is a step in the right direction, he said.

Evergreen Assurance Inc., an Annapolis, Md.-based disaster recovery service, has been beta-testing DefensePro. Evergreen plans to use the device not only on its internal systems, but also as part of its service offering to its customers.

The high throughput of the product was an important selling point, said John Liccione, co-founder and chief technology officer at Evergreen.

Evergreen ensures that its customers can get full access to crucial systems, such as e-mail, within 15 minutes of a disaster. Evergreen plans to use DefensePro to provide its users with intrusion detection as an added service. And the company is using the product on its own systems to guard against attacks.

"For our needs, Radware has the best product in the market," Liccione said.

Still, the early accolade may not be enough to help Radware make the leap into the crowded security market, said Peter Firstbrook, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group. Radware is trying to diversify its offerings because the load-balancing market is slowing, he said, and security is an obvious target because it is one of the few growing markets in the tech sector.

As a new player in intrusion detection, Radware will find itself pitted against large vendors, including Cisco Systems Inc. Radware is not a well-known name in security, and it lacks contacts in customers' security departments, since it has primarily been a networking vendor, Firstbrook said.

DefensePro starts at $25,000.


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