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ISS unveils all-in-one security device

Internet Security Systems announces that it will focus on securing companies with products that integrate firewall, intrusion-detection and antivirus software to detect and block threats.

Robert Lemos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Robert Lemos
covers viruses, worms and other security threats.
Robert Lemos
2 min read
SAN JOSE, Calif.--Network protection firm Internet Security Systems announced on Tuesday that it would focus on securing companies with all-in-one products that integrate firewall, intrusion-detection and antivirus software to better detect and block threats.

The firm said that the family of products, called Proventia, will simplify the administration of network security and better catch digital attacks, even previously unknown ones.

"Just because the threats that attack your network are complex doesn't mean that your security has to be," said Tom Noonan, CEO of the Atlanta, Ga.-based firm. He listed off the standalone software and devices he said could be replaced by the single box: firewalls, intrusion-detection systems, antivirus software, content filters, virtual private networks and application filters. "It's pretty simple when you add it up: one system versus six systems."

Noonan, wearing workman's coveralls, evangelized about the new products at a launch event that had all the hallmarks of the dot-com boom days: loud rock music, junkyard props and the blunt metaphor of dumping scrap labeled "Legacy Security Technology" into a recycled electronics bin.

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He called the current crop of security devices a mess and, tongue in cheek, apologized on behalf of the industry. "We (the industry) have made a mess of the network by reacting to each threat with a new standalone security product," he said.

Whether or not such piecemeal security products are outdated, companies have to learn that safer networks are a prerequisite for the broad adoption of e-commerce, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, CEO of publishing firm Forbes, told attendees.

"To realize the full potential of cyberspace, you need security," he said. "People need to know that you are going to hold the pirates at bay."

Internet Security Systems (ISS) is not the first company to pledge an integrated security system for a company's network.

Several security software and device makers, such as IBM, Check Point Software Technologies, and Nortel Networks, have pledged to unify their own network appliances to ease management. NetScreen Technologies, which announced that it would acquire Neoteris last week, has also followed the integrated software path.

However, ISS's focus on Proventia's antivirus component, a well-known piece of any company's online security system, puts it into direct competition with security rivals Symantec and Network Associates.

It remains to be seen whether Proventia will solve corporations' security dysfunction. However, at least one beta customer at the launch thought the product was good medicine.

Dax Sharpe, information-technology manager at medical-device maker Osmetech, said that the early versions of the product that he tested at his company ended up replacing the firm's firewall and intrusion-detection system. And, where he had no antivirus gateway before, Proventia provided that function as well.

"It's the point man for the (whole) network," he said. "I like the fact that I don't have to be an expert in everything...We don't have the staff for that."