Securing Network From Within

TNT, Symark and SecurSoft target the security of private networks.

Responding to ever-changing corporate networks and the growing threat of breaches from employees and partners, several companies are readying new products that secure networks against insider abuse and misuse.

While each of the companies approaches the problem from a different perspective, Trusted Network Technologies Inc., Symark Software and SecurSoftware Inc. all aim to bring to the core of the network the same level of protection thats considered table stakes at the perimeter.

TNTs Identity platform, which runs on Microsoft Corp.s Windows 2000 and some Linux environments, comprises three components: I-Host, driver software that resides on the end-point device; I-Gateway, a Linux-based appliance; and I-Manager, the central management console. When a known user makes a request for resources, the I-Host software creates a two-factor identifier for the user. The identifier is made up of data about the user as well as uniquely identifiable information about the device.

I-Host then encrypts the identity information, digitally signs it and embeds it in the packets being sent with the users session request. The extra data inside the packet has no noticeable effect on the packet, and the entire operation is transparent to the user. The request then goes to the I-Gateway appliance, which sits in front of the corporate application servers. The appliance decrypts the information, and if the user is known and is authorized to access the resources, the box sends the packet to the appropriate server.

While TNT, of Alpharetta, Ga., is focusing on ordinary users, Symark, based in Agoura Hills, Calif., is targeting administrators with the latest release of its PowerBroker software. The solution is meant to restrict the manner in which administrators can delegate root privileges on Unix and Linux systems. The system gives administrators the ability to grant limited root access to users on an as-needed basis and provides a comprehensive audit trail. PowerBroker also enables customers to define certain keystroke sequences that are off-limits to prevent breaches and data loss.

Customers with large Unix and Linux implementations said the solution improves efficiency as well as security.

"We use it extremely heavily, even with our Oracle [Corp.] databases," said Alex Reyes, Unix system administrator at Health First, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Rockledge, Fla. "We were using a lot of scripts to send things to the support desk, but wed have to modify them every time we changed the root password. Now we have a master root account and some aliases [the support desk] can use so we can track activity."

Meanwhile, SecurSoftware, like TNT, is using a two-factor authentication scheme for its new offering, SecurXT Enterprise Edition, which the Miami company will introduce at Comdex in Las Vegas this week. To log on to a protected PC, users must supply a PIN and a Universal Serial Bus token, which contains the users software key. Once on the system, the user can encrypt files, folders and e-mail messages and has the ability to electronically shred files. Admins can track user activity by device or application.