Intrusion prevention security tipped to boom in Europe

Brief: Threats such as the JPEG virus means more companies will splash out on IPS systems to protect against security vulnerabilities, vendors claim

Sales of intrusion prevention systems in Europe continue to lag behind the US, but vendors expect them to catch up.

"The IPS market in Europe is a few quarters behind North America. But a couple of quarters ago is the time when IPS took off in the US," said Kip McClanahan, chief executive of TippingPoint, speaking at the NetEvents gathering of networking analysts, vendors and press in Barcelona on Friday. He added that TippingPoint expected to see a "very significant" uptake in demand in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Intrusion prevention systems conduct deep-packet inspection of the traffic moving across a company's network. TippingPoint argues that IPS is a more sensible choice than an intrusion detection system, which will alert a network administrator of potential problems but not act against them.

Enterprise-class IPS systems aren't cheap. Price tags of £50,000 are not uncommon -- but in today's security climate they can make sense for large companies, and organisations such as universities which can't trust their end users to run their own security protection.

Both TippingPoint and Internet Security Systems, another IPS vendor, are keen to point out that IPS products protect against vulnerabilities rather than just exploits. Both companies say that their customers were protected from the recent JPEG virus, because the vulnerability it took advantage of had already been identified.

Other security companies told the NetEvents audience that 802.1x, which places authentication on each network port, will play a big role in network security. But the IPS vendors say it isn't enough to just put security on the perimeter.

"If I'm a malicious employee and I want to run something bad on your network, then port monitoring won't stop me," said Marc Willebeek-LeMair, TippingPoint's chief technology and strategy officer.