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Network Associates unveils middleware

The top maker of security software introduces new products for protecting corporate networks from viruses and hackers.

Seeking to simplify security management, Network Associates today rolled out middleware for securing corporate networks against computer viruses, outside intruders, and internal hackers.

Network Associates, which built its security product line through a series of acquisitions, also is rolling out additions to its security software lineup and releasing new versions of its existing security products.

The company is stopping short of a full, centralized console that a security administrator could use to control all aspects of a corporation's network security. Instead, Network Associates is offering middleware, called Event Orchestrator, which coordinates how different pieces of its software communicate with each other.

For example, the security middleware could transfer information about an attack, detected by Network Associates' CyberCop intrusion-detection software, to a Gauntlet firewall that could shut off the entryway the attacker was using.

Among the new offerings: Client virtual private network (VPN) software that allows remote users to dial in securely to corporate networks over the Internet, instead of using dedicated lines or toll-free phone numbers. The VPN client is part of a new PGP VPN suite, named after one of the company's early acquisitions, Pretty Good Privacy. The suite includes VPN server software, the company's Gauntlet firewall, and a public key infrastructure (PKI) for issuing and managing digital certificates.

The new VPN client, designed for mobile users or extranet connections with business partners, is built on PGP desktop encryption software that scrambles data sent via email or stored securely in files or on disks.

The VPN suite is part of the "Active Security" suite that Network Associates is unveiling before today's opening day baseball game of the Oakland As against the New York Yankees, scheduled this evening in the newly renamed Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland.

Network Associates also released version 5.0 of its Gauntlet firewall and CyberCop 5.0, its intrusion protection product that includes Sting, a decoy that lures hackers into parts of a network where they can be detected and caught.

Network Associates also announced security partnerships with Microsoft for its proxy server and Windows 2000, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, public key infrastructure firms Entrust, and VeriSign, Cigna, and systems integrators Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, and GTE Government Systems.

Network Associates began as an anti-virus software vendor, and its MacAfee anti-virus products are widely used. After merging with Network General in late 1997, the company changed its name to Network Associates and continued to acquired security companies and their products, including encryption firm PGP, firewall maker Trusted Information Systems, European antivirus vendor Doc Solomon, and intrusion-detection firm Secure Networks.

But Network Associates' "suite strategy"--in which it offers a full line of security software--has drawn criticism.

In a Forrester Research report published in late 1998 the research firm argued that "security suites are nothing more than point products cobbled together. By the time vendors properly integrate them, a shift in Fortune 1000 security buying patterns and security requirements will conspire to make monolithic suites irrelevant."

Critics have contrasted the security suite strategy with the "best of breed" approach taken by other vendors who create individual products in separate security technologies. In recent months, Network Associates executives have been calling its offerings "a best-of-breed security suite."