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Tightening up McAfee defenses

Can't keep up with software patches? Try intrusion protection, Network Associates says.

Security company Network Associates plans to introduce on Monday new versions of its intrusion protection products for host computers and networks.

The updates are specifically for McAfee IntruShield, a device for protecting networks, and McAfee Entercept, security software for PCs and server computers.

The latest IntruShield, version 2.1, uses encryption keys to inspect encrypted traffic, such as data to an online stock trading site. IntruShield's upgrade also includes the ability to set up firewalls within a corporate network. Firewalls, typically established at an organization's perimeter, can block access to particular applications or Internet addresses.

New firewall integration in the update to Entercept, version 5.0, can help protect computers that travel beyond a corporate network, said Vimal Solanki, director of marketing for McAfee Intrusion Prevention Solutions. The latest version also features a "management dashboard" designed to give administrators a better view of a company's security status, as well as additional auditing capabilities for tracking changes to security configurations.

The need for intrusion protection technologies comes from the difficulty of keeping up with the latest fixes to flawed software programs, Solanki said. IT departments may be faced with two or three patches every week and may then have to install them on 100,000 machines, he noted.

"It is humanly impossible to keep up with all the patches," Solanki said.

Both products, which are set for release in July, are part of Network Associates' strategy to offer a multilayered approach to protecting computer systems. The company's competitors in intrusion protection technologies include Internet Security Systems, Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks' Netscreen.

Enterprise investment in information technology security in the United States has been rising and is likely to hit 12 percent of total IT budgets over the next couple of years, according to a recent study.