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Juniper tightens up security

Years after promising to do so, Juniper Networks, the world's No. 2 router maker, is introducing new security features for its equipment.

Years after promising to do so, Juniper Networks, the world's No. 2 router maker, is introducing new security features for its equipment.

The most notable addition to be announced Wednesday is "flow monitoring," which has become a reliable way to stop denial of service attacks, according to Infonetics Research Executive Director Jeff Wilson.

Juniper is also set to introduce a firewall to safeguard corporate computer networks and "network address translation," which is used to hide IP (Internet protocol) addresses from a hacker's view. The three new features come in the form of circuitry that can be added to Juniper routers now in use by telephone and broadband service providers, said Kevin Dillon, Juniper Networks' portfolio marketing director. He would not disclose the price of the hardware.

The announcement reflects a promise Juniper and other network equipment industry members made in 1999 following the first waves of denial of service attacks. For the first time, a network was being used to create large-scale digital havoc, and network makers said they'd come up with more "responsible" equipment, Dillon said.

But Juniper waited to announce new products and strategies, which it's calling "J-Protect", while competitors Cisco Systems, Redback Networks and Avici Systems introduced their own security measures, in some cases a few years ago, Infonetics' Wilson said.

"This is, finally, an admission that although not a security vendor, Juniper needs to be deeply involved in network security," Wilson said.

Just how this lag time has affected sales is hard to measure. Last year, telephone and broadband providers spent a relatively healthy amount--about $1.7 billion--on routers. But the outlook for overall spending by telephone companies, owners of many of the nation's broadband networks, remains bleak, with carriers expecting to cut their capital expenses by about 20 percent.

Cisco dominates the market for this kind of equipment, selling about 58 percent of the routers that telephone companies use in their networks. Juniper is in second place, with about 12 percent of the market. Redback Networks is in third, with 7 percent of the market.