myCIO.com stresses appliances, physical security

Network Associates Inc. subsidiary myCIO.com has two developments in the works that it hopes further entrenches managed services as the best way to achieve enterprise security.
Written by Scott Berinato, Contributor

Though security has been noticeably underrepresented at Comdex this week, myCIO.com CEO Zach Nelson promises some developments soon.

The Network Associates Inc. subsidiary, which offers outsourced managed security services, has two developments in the works that it hopes further entrenches managed services as the best way to achieve enterprise security.

First, the company is planning a partnership with security expert Pinkerton's Inc. to add physical security elements to its virtual offerings. Second, myCIO.com is planning to release next February new security appliances that combine anti-virus and intrusion detection, Nelson said.

Nelson said that, slowly but surely, security and service vendors will get ahead of the seemingly endless security problems that have plagued the industry and led to blanket cynicism about security in the online world.

"While skepticism is appropriate, I think we're getting to a point where we'll get even, or ahead," Nelson told eWEEK. "At base, security is about making the cure move faster than the virus. We're not there yet, but we're getting there."

The deal with Pinkerton's, expected to be announced by the end of the year, will help myCIO.com add physical security policy to its network operations centers and to its customers' sites. For its part, Pinkerton's will try to use the deal to make a foray into the world of virtual security.

Nelson said users should expect more such deals as companies try to think holistically about their security, meaning that adding such things as forensics policies or security guard policies can spell the difference between data safety and data compromise.

"Security has gotten much more serious as we've moved from trying to figure out how we secure our data to trying to figure out how we selectively expose that data to partners and customers," Nelson said. "And companies are looking at every way possible to make the data secure."

The as-yet-unnamed security appliances in the works at myCIO.com will serve two purposes. First, they will be put into the VirusScreen service. VirusScreen uses a network operations center that a company pays to put in front of its incoming e-mail. The VirusScreen data center checks the mail for problems then forwards it to the company.

But this takes time and bandwidth. The new appliances promise a tenfold performance improvement for VirusScreen. They are based on Linux and mark the beginning of the company's move away from Windows NT as a platform for its security products.

Scaled-down versions of the appliances will also debut next year for use in enterprise networks as part of myCIO.com's services.

Nelson also touched on areas of the industry that have suffered for lack of security, and some still aren't moving aggressively toward security.

"Wireless is a little further off for us. Customers aren't yet asking for PDA and phone security," he said.

He also mentioned a concept that has kicked around Network Associates for some time now, called a "Super Pod." This would be a rack with several plug-in modules, each devoted to an area of security, such as anti-virus, intrusion detection, firewall, virtual private network, certificate authentication and so forth.

The idea is elegant: one giant box at the front of a network with appliances plugged into it. But Nelson said the concept is still years off because the economics of putting enough processor power in such a unit don't yet make it viable.

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