Opinion: IPsec, SSL vendors may fumble security . . .

IPsec, SSL vendors may fumble security . . . . . . opportunities in the emerging Web services world, where applications will be protected higher in the software stack, according to Bob Blakely, chief scientist for privacy and security at IBM Corp.'s Tivoli Software unit. Both IPsec and SSL, he says, don't use "intuition" like people do in protecting systems.

He likens the protocols to "the British Army notion of security, where they will defend themselves until they're killed. Protection is not defeating an enemy, but holding it off until people can fix the problem," he adds. Until Web services arrive in force, however, IPsec and SSL vendors will continue to whack each other with claims about the deficiencies of the other's approach. Evan Kaplan, CEO of Seattle-based Aventail Corp., touts SSL for its ubiquity in browsers and slams IPsec for its complexity. Countering is Sweta Duseja, product marketing manager at Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. in Redwood City, Calif., who disses SSL because its simplicity is valid with only HTTP-based applications; anything else, and you've got increased licensing and installation hassles. IPsec, she argues, gives IT better management control over resources. Both companies are doing more than just tossing brickbats at each other. Aventail is readying a Java client that will work with its EX-1500 security appliance, adding security to PDAs, Macintoshes, kiosks and anything else that can run a Java virtual machine. It's now in beta with no scheduled release date, says Kaplan. Not to be outdone, Duseja points to Check Point's Linux client, which will ship before year's end. And, she says, the company is already building client code for Apple Computer Inc.'s OS X for delivery next year.

Web services may be offering a new methodology for security, but the code you use to build these services may be the most vulnerable part of the application, especially if you're using Visual Studio .Net. Web services created with Microsoft Corp.'s development platform can easily be decompiled, revealing their source code and thus jeopardizing intellectual property as well as the program's security and licensing restrictions. That's why at Comdex next week Microsoft will be bragging about a deal it made with PreEmptive Solutions Inc. The Cleveland-based company's Dotfuscator, now available as a separate tool, will become part of the next release of Visual Studio .Net, code-named Everett, in the first half of next year. Microsoft developers are unaccustomed to protecting their code, says PreEmptive CEO Gabriel Torok, because Windows apps are compiled as x86 binaries -- far more difficult to reverse-engineer. This is no small matter, because there are plenty of tools to decompile software, and it's not illegal. But it's not nice.

Is your Oracle database slower than a vendor's customer support? Well, next April you can boost its speed with InfoCyclone Inc.'s database accelerator appliance. The Tel Aviv-based company believes that its device can deliver near-real-time responses even to the most complex business intelligence queries by replicating the most used data in its 4GB or 16GB memory.

Online CRM vendors are warily waiting for Microsoft to release its CRM product, which Alex Simon, product unit manager, says will ship in "30 to 40 days." Keith Raffel, chairman of UpShot Corp. in Mountain View, Calif., purports that because you'll be able to license Microsoft CRM for on-site use, as well as via the application service provider model like his company's competing software, the Redmond giant's approach "will not be a true Web service." Simon says that's not so. "All of it is .Net-aware," he claims. The UpShot software, which is built on .Net technology, goes live next week. The vendor hopes that the software's "gangbuster growth" will get a boost from its tight integration with Microsoft Outlook. Raffel is also betting that Microsoft's entry will boost overall interest by midsize companies in online CRM. No doubt. According to Simon, Microsoft will be spending tens of millions of dollars to promote the new software. As if we don't hear from them enough.

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