New Curbs on the Horizon for Noncompliant Systems

eWEEK Labs predicts that 2004 will see many more alliances between network infrastructure and security software makers.

eWEEK Labs predicts that 2004 will see many more alliances between network infrastructure and security software makers. This is good news for corporate IT because integrated tools will help keep networks running smoothly by ensuring that end-user devices are up-to-date.

Network Associates Inc.s McAfee Trusted Connection Strategy joins a growing number of initiatives and product announcements that seek to check computer systems for compliance with corporate security policies before the systems access the network.

Based on McAfee security initiatives and developing partnerships with network infrastructure vendors, the Trusted Connection Strategy is designed to check for systems security compliance before connection to the network and to automatically remedy problems if necessary.

The McAfee initiative should work with a number of network hardware and software applications, including the integrated devices. eWEEK Labs recommends that IT managers look for such cooperative capabilities in security products they evaluate in the near future.

One product eWEEK Labs recently tested is not tied to the Trusted Connection Strategy but illustrates the value of the initiatives core principles. Zone Labs Inc.s Integrity 4.0 is a policy enforcement agent that works with systems from Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks Ltd. and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., ensuring that endpoints such as PC laptops have the correct version of, for example, a desktop firewall.

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See eWEEK Labs review of Zone Labs Integrity 4.0.

McAfees Trusted Connection Strategy takes this idea and applies it centrally, both for users who are connecting via VPN concentrators or through external firewalls and for users who are accessing the LAN through a workgroup switch or router. Starting now, IT administrators can use Trusted Connection Strategy with Check Point and Nortel equipment to ensure that the correct version of anti-virus software is installed. Systems that fail the compliance test will be moved to a virtual quarantine area for configuration remediation.

According to Steve Crutchfield, group marketing manager for McAfee, the Trusted Connection Strategy will be rolled out in two stages (including support for Cisco equipment) starting in the middle of next year.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be contacted at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.