MSSP Clean Communicatons adds IDS protection

Clean Communications on Monday will unveil an intrusion detection service (IDS) as the newest complement to its managed security services provider (MSSP) offering. A blitzkrieg of computer assaults and security threats raining down on end-users over the last six months is prompting stronger considerations toward managed security, industry analysts say.

The MSSP's multiplatform IDS can integrate with existing firewall and VPN deployments or be bundled into its pre-packaged managed services offering that features any combination of the three network security components, said Kauspubh Phaltankar, CEO of Fairfax, Va.-based Clean Communications, formerly known as NetPlexus. Clean Communications also offers managed anti-virus protection via a gateway model.

Ken Pappas, vice president of Emerging Technologies for Sterling, Mass.-based Sterling Research, said he believes outsourced security is making more sense now than in light of the mushrooming security responsibilities growing within a company's environment.

"It's at a point in time where enterprises are going to be looking at ways to scale back on manpower and resources and more companies are becoming security conscious," Pappas said. "Everything that has been taking place in our world in the last 30 to 60 days has peaked everyone's interest to take a hard look at the network and security. [Customers] need to turn to [MSSP] companies that provide services at a high level such as firewall, IDS, and VPN."

Pappas said that outside security dangers have become too complicated and advanced for internal staff to keep track of and try to thwart. Receiving 24x7 support capable of watching network traffic and suspicious activity down to the packet level is putting increasing pressure on the need for forensics tools -- or services.

Color specifications maker Pantone, which has served graphics, textiles, and plastic industry customers for more than 40 years, is thrilled to let an MSSP such as Clean Communications worry about putting a microscope to its network security needs.

"We had so many things to worry about -- our users, keeping the Web site running -- we don't have time to worry about somebody hacking into our networks," said Dave Raman, manager of Information Services for Carlstadt, N.J.-based Pantone. "That was paramount. Having somebody that could alert us if anything happened."

Raman said Pantone has received Clean Communications' full range of managed security services for nearly a year. He indicated that he was well satisfied with the benefits of managed security, including quick and on-site response to trouble and recommendations for protection issues the service did not cover, such as placing required patches on servers. Overall, he said the mutual sense or responsibility between a customer and MSSP does not translate into lack of control.

"Basically, it's a shared situation. Anything we need to do internally, we maintain total control. Having managed services gives us that extra set of eyes. We have families and lives and it's hard to watch your back 24 hours a day," Raman added.

In the past, security customers have proved reluctant to allow an outside party to assume even partial control over their security devices and software operations for a variety of cultural and internal reasons.

Phaltankar said Clean Communications' IDS provides customers with reporting and auditing features, as well as a centralized system engine that allows the MSSP to reduce false positives and correlate alarms with network devices from vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Nokia Corp.

He said the company is working on supporting a content filtering service in the coming months. Clean Communications is also working with Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. and Nokia to migrate customers of Network Associates International's (NAI's) Gauntlet product to a Check Point solution. Last week, security vendor NAI announced plans to eliminate the Gauntlet line as part of its major restructuring plan.

Prices for the subscription based IDS service can range from US$1,500 to $3,000 per network device and the type of customer environment.

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