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New technology aims to secure corporate networks

Intel is building new networking adapters aimed at making data on a corporate network secure, and will team with IBM and Compaq to push the technology.

Intel is building new networking adapters aimed at making data on a corporate network secure.

The chipmaker today said it is adding encryption features and a processor into its network interface cards and in network chips that are built onto a computer's main circuit board. Both technologies allow PCs and servers to connect to a network.

Greg Lang, vice president of Intel's network interface division, said the company's new technology will help make corporate networks secure.

The processor on the networking adapters will help speed up the encryption of all data that travels from desktops and into the corporate network, Lang said.

"We're securing the local area network, rather than securing the threat outside of the network," he said. "Most computer crime happens inside the organization, whether it's a disgruntled employee out to do damage or a rogue contractor getting data for the wrong reasons."

Intel's announcement today is similar to technology that rival 3Com has been building. The networking adapters feature security technology and a processor to run networking tasks and applications, such as email. The processor improves the performance of Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system as the computer's main processor can concentrate on applications.

"The two companies are leaders in the Fast Ethernet network interface card space and the costs are coming down, so they're adding more features," said Cahners In-Stat Group analyst Mike Wolf. "That's one way to fight the price decline. Encryption-based silicon will get people to pay higher prices."

Both Intel and 3Com technologies support a new security standard called IP SEC--and today's Intel announcement with a list of partners will help speed up the adoption of the standard.

At the Network+Interop trade show today, Compaq and IBM said they will incorporate Intel's networking cards and networking-on-motherboard technology into future PCs and servers. Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system supports the technology, and Entrust Technologies is providing the security software that authenticates users.

Intel said the chipset with the added security features is available now. The chipset includes a processor and a controller, which takes data, encrypts it, and sends it out to the network.

Products featuring the chipset will ship by the end of the year, Intel executives said.