COMDEX: Security concerns top Comdex agenda

Vendors will attack key security problems from various directions this week in response to peaking interest in new methods for protecting corporate assets.

As enterprises re-evaluate their needs, a myriad of options are coming to the fore, ranging from full-service managed security to point solutions that employ cutting-edge technology, according to industry analysts and enterprise users.

In a telling initiative, consulting giant EDS will use Comdex to announce a comprehensive security program that includes cybersecurity, physical security, business continuity, emergency management planning, and privacy. The company will also unveil cybersecurity tools and launch a new effort to deliver a comprehensive package of security services to airlines and airports. EDS is among the companies pursuing a fast-growing security consulting model.

IBM Global Services, another leader in security consulting, will make available this week four expanded managed security offerings for its Web hosting customers. They include an IDS (intrusion detection system), firewall, vulnerability assessment and prevention consultation, and verification services for customers to automate monitoring of internal systems, according to a company representative.

Narrowly focused security vendors McAfee and Kaspersky Labs will announce new personal firewalls and anti-virus packages, respectively. Smart cards, previously the rage in Europe, are gaining ground in the United States, and companies such as Infinion and ActivCard will demonstrate technology at Comdex to enhance employee authorization, computer access, purchasing clearance, and building security. Biometrics is also gaining attention with vendors such as LG Electronics, Griffin Technologies, and Siemens Biometrics announcing new authentication products at the show.

Security has also become a pressing concern at the network level, particularly with respect to VPNs and wireless networks. Most notably, Cisco Systems Inc. will announce a set of enhancements to its Aironet 350 wireless LAN security suite. Although not planning to provide a demonstration at the show, 3Com Corp. reports it is readying a strategy to embed security functions in network access cards that is due for launch in January 2002.

Full-service security

The upswing for IT outsourcing companies such as EDS, KPMG Consulting Inc., and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is that enterprises are turning to them to implement security services amid the complexity and variety of security offerings, explained Peter Lindstrom, senior analyst for security strategies at Framingham, Mass.-based Hurwitz Group Inc.

As a result, EDS hopes to tap customer interest at the show, unveiling three risk-assessment tools: a security-assessment tool, a privacy-assessment tool, and a third tool designed for insurers to manage and gauge the level of risk associated with a company's Web-based data, company officials said. The tools will use current security and privacy benchmarks created by governmental and academic organizations to measure compliance. The company will also unveil at the show additional security services for airlines as well as for airports.

Dick Brown, EDS chairman and CEO, will set the tone for Comdex with a keynote address on security. Calling on companies to "decentralize globally," Brown will tell attendees that it is no longer wise to pool either key employees or technologies in a few locations. Brown will also recommend that companies build continuous, parallel applications and create either mirror sites or parallel processing, especially for time-sensitive data, company officials said.

"[Post-Sept. 11] security concerns come from more of the senior management level," said Al Decker, director of privacy and security services at EDS in Plano, Texas.

In response, EDS will announce at Comdex a CxO-level workshop on security tailored for specific industries and companies. The company is also adding a security curriculum for CxOs on its Cyber Security Web site. "Since Sept. 11, we're getting CxOs calling us directly," said an EDS representative.

During Brown's keynote, the company will also demonstrate its Entry kiosk project to speed the identification of travelers entering and leaving the country.

Currently used at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, the biometric device matches the bone structure of a traveler's hand with the bone-structure data previously recorded and stored on a smart card. When entering the country, a traveler places his or her hand in the device, and the data is matched to the smart card and is linked to the country's immigration system.

Many enterprises have not made a move to the full-service security model. From an enterprise IT perspective, the full-service offerings from companies such as EDS, Unisys Corp., or IBM Corp. have to be put in the corporate context of what already exists within the company, according to J.R. Bibb, innovation advisor for Shell Oil's IT International group in Houston.

Security concerns may have been somewhat "heightened" at Shell since Sept. 11, but Shell is always in a state of heightened security, Bibb said. From an enterprise IT perspective, full-service offerings have to be put in the corporate context of what already exists within the company.

Anti-virus innovation

Meanwhile, McAfee.com will use Comdex to introduce its new personal firewall. Created using graphical visual tracing technology from its NeoWorx acquisition early this year, the service will be delivered by the ASP model, company officials said. Available in December, the personal firewall will offer IDS and access to the hackerwatch.org database and will provide end-users with increased interaction features such as MSN pop-up alerts, said Sam Curry, security architect at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based McAfee.com.

Reminding customers that e-mail spread damage wrought by the Nimda, Code Red I, and Code Red II viruses, Moscow-based anti-virus vendor Kaspersky Labs will unveil its new SMTP gateway product at Comdex. Kaspersky Anti-Virus for SMTP gateways is a software system administering anti-virus scanning and filtering of all incoming and outgoing traffic at the SMTP protocol level before it reaches the e-mail server, according to company CEO Denis Kaspersky.

Getting smart about smart cards

Smart card companies such as ActivCard and Infinion Technologies will also have representatives at Comdex discussing the importance and timeliness of the credit-card-size security technology.

The onset of the war on terrorism is generating more interest in smart cards, according to Rod Stuhlmuller, the vice president of corporate communications at ActivCard, in Fremont, Calif.

Infinion Technologies will be at Comdex talking about its fingerprint-sensor technology as much as about its smart card technology, said Don Malloy, the senior marketing manager for security integrated circuits at Infinion, in San Jose, Calif.

Infinion provides advanced fingerprint-sensor technology to companies that then integrate the technology into a wide range of PDAs, laptops, office devices, and even smart, secure computer mice, Malloy said.

"The early interest is more in the public sector than with private companies," Malloy said.

Meanwhile, in the biometric space, Munich, Germany-based Siemens Biometrics will show off its ID Mouse Professional. The device requires a perfect fingerprint match to provide users with network access.

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