Fox in the henhouse

Internet Security Systems (ISS) used the Dubai leg of its Middle East roadshow today to emphasise the importance of keeping network and security infrastructures apart. The company likened excessive network and security integration to ‘putting the fox in charge of the henhouse’.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  June 1, 2005

|~|Computer_wall_m.jpg|~||~|Internet Security Systems (ISS) used the Dubai leg of its Middle East roadshow today to emphasise the importance of keeping network and security infrastructures apart. The company likened excessive network and security integration to ‘putting the fox in charge of the henhouse’. The security roadshow is halfway through its schedule, having already visited Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain and will visit Saudi Arabia and Oman in the coming weeks, finishing on June 8 in Riyadh. Peter Stremus, VP of marketing for ISS EMEA, notes a trend to integrate network and security infrastructure and said that while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, he warned that the two have conflicting priorities. “The network people tend to want speed and be focused on throughput, whereas the security people concentrate on maintaining the integrity of the network. The two areas are not mutually exclusive but they can be difficult to reconcile. There has to be some degree of separation. If network people are solely in charge of security considerations it is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,” he explained. The security firm is also using the roadshow to discuss its Enterprise Security Platform, which promises to prevent zero day attacks by using a virtual patching and shielding process, as well as test the water in the Middle East for its managed security services (MSS). Virtual patching and shielding are components of the Enterprise Security Platform that look to pre-empt threats by guarding against potentially critical vulnerabilities when they are announced by the software vendors, rather than waiting for exploits to be created. “The solution is pre-emptive, which gives IT managers more time to manage their patching schedule. We often make them aware of vulnerabilities months before exploits appear. This means IT managers don’t have to apply as many emergency patches on their systems, which can result in undesirable side effects,” said Stremus. ISS is also emphasising its MSS capabilities, with Jef Gielkens, MSS business development manager for ISS EMEA, speaking on the tour. ISS has 5,000+ devices under its control and in excess of 1,100 MSS customers worldwide. The firm offers what it claims is a unique guarantee to block attacks, which forms part of its service level agreement (SLA). However a caveat to this is that the SLA covers only ISS devices within an enterprise. Third parties manufacture many of the 5,000+ devices controlled by ISS’s MSS programme. “Two thousand of the devices we manage are firewalls, and as we don’t make firewalls, we must support other manufacturers products. We support models from the main players such as Juniper, Cisco and CheckPoint. While this is a key part of our business we cannot extend a guarantee to block attacks to other vendors’ products, as we don’t have the necessary level of control,” said Gielkens. Gielkens said that, nevertheless, support of third party devices will be a key driver in its MSS strategy. The firm plans to extend its offering to switches and routers as these take on more security functions and produce logs should be monitored for security breaches. ISS has also recently beefed up its managed services portfolio with the addition of managed protection services (MPS) for desktop firewalls. MPS for desktop firewalls is designed to enable companies to accelerate the deployment and configuration of ISS RealSecure Desktop Protector and new Proventia products while reducing operational costs. MPS for Desktop Firewalls joins existing ISS MPS components that deal with network and server products. ISS has chalked up some impressive wins in the region, including Universal Motors Agencies (UMA), which is a General Motors dealership based in Saudi Arabia.||**||

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