RSA: Execs Stress Network Access Agendas

Symantec used the venue to launch its Network Access Control Enforcer appliance. The new product line, which uses network access control (NAC) technology Symantec, Cupertino, Calif., acquired from Sygate in August, will be part of Symantec&'s end-point security product series and is slated to be available in late April.

During his keynote address, Symantec Chairman and CEO John Thompson highlighted the importance of controlling network access and rebuilding trust in the digital world through better security. “Enterprises need a way to ensure that their customers meet some minimum security standards before they gain access to the network,” he said.

Thompson also noted that because of eroding consumer confidence due to security concerns, and because technology has impacted all walks of life, security experts must work to rebuild trust in the digital world. “Think about what would happen if banks were forced to stop all online banking and go back to the days of long lines at teller windows,” he said. “We can&'t go back to the old way of doing business.”

VARs agree that NAC will be a focus for security solutions this year and beyond. “I believe this is a very large emerging opportunity because it addresses the problems created with all the ways [that] users are connecting to the network,” said Michael McKinzie, president of security solution provider Securtek, Irvine, Calif.

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Networking giant Cisco Systems, San Jose, also touted its plans for NAC during the show. Its plan to push more intelligence into the network necessitates a far-reaching security strategy that will require the vendor to form technology partnerships and make acquisitions well into the foreseeable future, said Cisco President and CEO John Chambers during his keynote address last Wednesday.

Chambers said Cisco is bulking up its vendor partnerships, particularly around its NAC concept. The company has 65 technology partners around this strategy, compared with 30 last year, he said.

Cisco also will continue to bolster its security technology profile through acquisitions, he said. “Last year at this time we had 12 acquisitions—we&'ve done three more this year. You&'ll see that [strategy] continue for probably the next decade,” Chambers said.

Solution provider partnerships will be critical to the rollout of Cisco&'s broad Intelligent Information Strategy, Chambers said last Tuesday during an interview with CRN. “The key issue for us … is to transform beyond just selling ‘equipment&' and installing and making it work to say how do you add value, add services on it,” Chambers said.

As the network becomes the platform for application and service delivery, it can provide huge competitive advantages to customers, “but a huge disadvantage if there is an interruption,” making pervasive network security a key piece of the story, he said.

Over time, more and more security features today offered as point products will move into the network and will become more transparent, Chambers said.

During the RSA show, Cisco demonstrated several products to this end including Cisco Security Manager, a tool that enables customers to set security policies and push them out automatically to all devices on the network.

Microsoft, for its part, detailed its competing client and server technology— Network Access Protection—designed to launch with the Windows Longhorn Server in 2007. Microsoft said it will be interoperable with Cisco&'s NAC.

Sun Microsystems&' CEO Scott McNealy stressed at the show that open-source development is the key to Sun&'s own security strategy. “Open interface, open implementation and community development is the way we&'re going to address this huge security challenge,” he said.

Not enough standardization across systems running servers in data centers, combined with the fact that most users run Windows desktop operating systems, is what has created a lot of the security problems that exist online today, he said.

JENNIFER HAGENDORF FOLLETT contributed to this story.