Intel yesterday released two network adapters designed to improve the performance of PCs and servers that exchange encrypted information over local area networks.
The adapters feature a coprocessor that off-loads the job of encrypting and decrypting data from a PC's main processor. That should mean better performance for users who send and receive encrypted files over a LAN, said Tim Dunn, a manager with Intel's LAN Access Operation unit.
As more companies use the Internet and other networks to do business, the need to encrypt sensitive data becomes greater, Dunn said. While firewalls provide some protection against external attacks, most security breaches originate inside networks, he said, citing studies from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and others.
The new adapters take advantage of security features in Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system, particularly its support for the security standard IPSec (Internet Protocol Security), Dunn said.
"One of the key things we're trying to do here is make security transparent to the end user," Dunn said.
An Intel executive will showcase the adapters at the RSA Conference on security in San Jose, California, running in computers from Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Compaq Computer. Systems from those vendors that incorporate the new adapters are due to be released this week, Dunn said.
The PRO/100 S Management Adapter is priced at $US112 -- about $15 more than Intel's existing network adapter without the encryption coprocessor, Dunn said. The PRO/100 S Server Adapter is priced at $139.
At the RSA Conference tomorrow, the Intel executive will also announce that Intel's forthcoming Itanium processor has been optimised to work with the SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption standard. Itanium's instructions have been written in such a way that they make lighter work of algorithms used in SSL software from RSA Security, Dunn said.