Intrusion response dips down to end-user level

The need for companies to respond in real time to both external and internal network attacks is fueling interest in automated intrusion-response technologies.

Enterasys Networks this week started shipping software designed to target the systems of individual users in the event of an attack, without disrupting the rest of the network.

Enterasys' new NetSight Atlas Automated Security Manager (ASM) works with the company's Dragon intrusion-detection system and its network switches. Together, the products allow companies to automatically identify a network port from which an attack is originating, quarantine users that are vulnerable and make policy changes without broad disruption.

The ASM technology is the first to give companies this sort of granular control when responding to network attacks, said Stan Schatt, an analyst at Forrester Research.

"This is a pretty powerful kind of improvement," Schatt said. With this technology, "you are not going to have to cut off an entire port if you see an intruder."

The new capability builds on the intrusion-response functions already enabled by Enterasys, said Bob Hartland, director of IT at Baylor University in Texas.

The university is using Enterasys technology to apply policies and block certain kinds of traffic on its dormitory networks. "We apply policy to ports that blocks everyone with the policy group equally," Hartland said. The more sophisticated response enabled by ASM will allow Baylor to apply such policies as needed at an individual user level, he said.

Eaton Vance Distributors is planning to utilize Enterasys' dynamic intrusion-response capabilities to monitor core applications.

"As a financial services company, we have to be very careful about who has access to what," said Vinnie Cottone, Eaton Vance's vice president of infrastructure services. Enterasys' technology will help the company become more proactive by "letting us know who's on our network, what kind of access they have and what they are doing with that access," he said.

Enterasys' moves to incorporate more security functions in its network technology are similar to those being made by other vendors, most notably Cisco Systems.

"What they are doing is integrating security into the infrastructure itself from a switching perspective," Schatt said.

Pricing information wasn't immediately available.

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