VOICECON - Extreme Networks, HP boost VoIP security

HP ProCurve unites with Mitel on VoIP security, management

LAN switching vendors are expected to roll out voice product enhancements and partnerships at this week's VoiceCon Orlando conference.

Extreme Networks plans to unveil a software upgrade to its security appliances designed to better safeguard VoIP traffic. Separately, HP ProCurve will join the newly formed Mitel Solutions Alliance (MSA) for third party interoperability.

The moves demonstrate the growing importance of VoIP traffic recognition, treatment and protection for switch vendors. The migration to IP telephony is fueling sales of Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switches to energize VoIP deployments. And the enterprise telephony market grew to US$9.6 billion in 2007, marked by a 29% increase in IP phone shipments, according to Infonetics.

That's why switch vendors are aligning themselves with VoIP companies. Last week, Foundry Networks forged a "strategic" partnership with Mitel under its recently-formed IronPowered Technology Alliance Program; and Enterasys recently unveiled an integration relationship with IP telephony vendor ShoreTel to develop security policies for VoIP traffic generated by ShoreTel equipment.

Security policy is also the core of Extreme's enhancements coming this week. The company plans to unveil software that incorporates behavior-based rules for its Sentriant security appliance to protect IP telephony and VoIP traffic.

These security rules will help mitigate the threat of malicious users and hackers who attempt to exploit vulnerabilities and breach the IP network, Extreme says. Based on these rules, users or devices that demonstrate destructive behavior when entering the network can be addressed to preserve the quality of voice communications.

A packaged set of rules is available now for Sentriant. With these rules, the appliances will better protect VoIP gateways, SIP servers and VoIP phones, Extreme says.

Protection mechanisms are triggered if a significant amount of traffic anomalies are seen, the company says. Extreme says the new Sentriant software has been certified to interoperate with Avaya, ShoreTel and Siemens VoIP gear.

The enhanced Sentriant appliance will compete with Cisco's ASA firewall when front-ending Cisco's Call Manager server; and Nortel's Secure Multimedia Controller, front-ending Nortel's Communications Server 1000 IP PBX, says Lawrence Orans, an analyst at Gartner. What sets Extreme apart is Sentriant's ability to use the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) to force computers and switches to redirect attack packets to Sentriant and away from intended targets.

"It's not the typical approach to network access control," Orans says.

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