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Check Point security alliance grows

The firewall vendor plans to announce more than 75 backers for its security framework alliance, set up to stave off rival Cisco Systems.

In a move to counter Cisco Systems' (CSCO) inroads into its market, leading firewall and security software vendor Check Point Software Technologies (CHKPF) on Monday will announce more than 75 partners backing Check Point's enterprisewide security framework.

Check Point's OPSEC (Open Platform for Secure Enterprise Connectivity) is a framework for interoperability and central management of different network security products. Large companies typically have multiple kinds of security hardware and software, but frequently each requires its own administration tools, creating a nightmare for security managers at sprawling organizations.

The OPSEC Alliance originally debuted in November. Check Point is now expanding the roster to include 3Com, Bay Networks, Intel, Microsoft, Netscape, RSA Data Security, and Symantec.

Even Secure Computing, a Check Point competitor in firewalls, is supporting Check Point's alliance.

Check Point representative Emily Cohen confirmed that the OPSEC Alliance was formed with an eye on Cisco, the giant router company that is expanding into the firewall and security space. Cisco markets its PICS firewall and two days ago announced the release of the CiscoSecure access control server (ACS) 2.0 for Unix and that an entry-level Windows NT version would be available this summer.

"I see the OPSEC Alliance as basically a rallying point for the [network security] industry, getting a standard out there for everyone to write to," said Matthew Kovar, senior analyst, at the Yankee Group. "It also puts Check Point in an excellent position--that's a no brainer."

Kovar noted that firewalls are frequently the first security product customers buy, so Check Point firewall sales could open sales opportunities for vendors of add-on products. That's particularly true for Check Point, which Yankee estimates to have 44 percent of the firewall market in the first half of 1996.

CheckPoint's move follows Cisco's February 24 announcement of its own Enterprise Security Initiative, with seven major vendors--most of whom also signed up for Check Point's OPSEC--as endorsers: Cylink, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Oracle, RSA, Security Dynamics, and VeriSign. Cisco said its alliance will be rolled out in phases over 18 months.

OPSEC's goal is to encompass a comprehensive set of security components so companies can integrate new and existing security products inside a company into a single enterprisewide security policy.

OPSEC is designed so a large organization can coordinate its entire network security apparatus through a single point--Check Point's management console, putting Check Point in a key leverage point.