Check Point 12 VPNs

If the expansion and increased complexity of VPN remote activity is giving blurry-eyed network administrators a headache, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. has a possible cure.

In an aggressive campaign to tout its Next Generation enhanced VPN initiative, Check Point last week unveiled a user interface that features Visual Policy Editor, a policy management tool that provides managers with a graphical map of the security infrastructure. Additionally, the company plans to introduce in mid-March SecureUpdate, a new security feature for its Next Generation management infrastructure product line.

SecureUpdate uses centralized policy management to automate delivery of software and to license updates to hundreds of gateways from a single console, said Leslie Stren, senior product marketing manager at the company.

SecureUpdate includes security policy and audit trails, a beefed-up centralized logging system, and greater performance and availability for security management.

As security enterprises become more complex and include management of multiple policies accumulated over time, it increases the ability to centralize deployment with a single click, said Todd Miller, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.

"Fifty-plus different policy rules is not uncommon [for an enterprise. The number of] security objects is between 100 to 1,000. Users can [number] between thousands to tens of thousands," Miller said. "This will make it easier for [administrators] and definitely more efficient."

One user anxiously expecting the official release of the products is Norma Jean Schaefer, an IT consultant at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in Topeka. Involved in a project that features Kansas as the first state to send federal criminal justice information via the Internet secured by VPN, Schaefer anticipates improved VPN visualization and management from the Check Point products.

"I have thousands of objects I have to go through, naming each. It takes minutes when I should be done in seconds," Schaefer said. "If I put something in the wrong place, it could be disastrous for us. I need to identify that very quickly and have that [functionality] on the fly for us to eliminate possible errors."

Check Point's initiative signals a growing trend of consolidating network and security management, according to security experts.

"The use of VPN is definitely growing. It's going to be important to scale that solution in terms of importance and manageability, and I think Next Generation is doing a good job on both accounts," said David Thompson, an analyst at Meta Group Inc.

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