By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2003-12-16 Print this article Print

-Virus Tools Included"> Hodges stressed that intrusion prevention encompasses any technology capable of actively blocking attacks and malicious behavior, including anti-virus tools.

NAIs plan hinges on integrating the network IPS technology of IntruVert and the host IPS capability of Entercept into the companys existing product line. But, having spent $220 million on the two acquisitions, NAI cant afford to miss the mark. The first real evidence of the integration work will emerge next year, when NAI introduces its Rogue Machine Detector. The device will combine the principles of identity management and authentication with intrusion prevention and will look for unauthorized users who attempt to connect to the network.

Analysts have been supportive of NAIs focus on IPS, saying it is a logical use of the companys technological assets. "I think its safe to say that Network Associates was fumbling for a while. But I think the intrusion prevention strategy is a good one," said Pete Lindstrom, an analyst at Spire Security LLC, in Malvern, Pa. "Its not everything you need, but its a good part of it. Right now, nobody is competitive with them on this. And I think they can execute, especially with the new blood they have in there from the acquisitions."

But most of NAIs competitors remain scornful of the IPS plan. Companies such as ISS, Blue Coat Systems Inc. and others regard IPS as an add-on rather than an entire product and have added behavior blocking to their appliances. "Intrusion prevention is a feature, not a product, and certainly not a company," said Steve Mullaney, vice president at Blue Coat, a Sunnyvale, Calif., maker of security appliances. "Intrusion prevention will get folded into the firewall. Being the leading provider of a feature is not a sustainable model."

Still, NAIs Hodges has little doubt that the company is going down the right path. Asked how confident he is that the company can execute on the plan, Hodges said, "Above a nine [on a scale of one to 10]. I think we can. If you had asked me six months ago, the answer would have been five or six. "All of the ups and downs [in recent years] had two distinct parts: The solutions have been ups; the other stuff has been downs. The acquisitions and the products have the CFO [chief financial officer] smiling," Hodges said. "There may be more acquisitions. This is a good time to be evaluating startups. Theres a lot of money flowing into security startups. And our belief is that all vendors in this space will have to switch to intrusion prevention in the next couple of years." But it remains to be seen whether NAI is still sitting at the table if and when that change comes to pass.


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