Nortel, Symantec team on app security

Symantec puts its IDS software on Nortel switches to help block exploits

Symantec plans to announce Monday a deal to put its intrusion prevention system (IPS) software on Nortel Network's application switching hardware.

The Nortel Application Switch with Symantec Intelligent Network Protection is the fruit of a partnership between the two companies. It is aimed at medium-size and large enterprise customers that need security cover to buy them more time to apply critical security patches from Microsoft and other software vendors, according to executives from the companies.

The combined product is the fruit of a year-long collaboration between the two companies to bake security features into network gear, said Wassim Tawbi, a datacenter solutions portfolio leader at Nortel.

Symantec's Network IPS technology will be added to other features on multifunction Nortel switches, which are deployed in front of groups of critical enterprise applications and analyze network traffic at layers 4 through 7, doing jobs such as SSL acceleration, load balancing, and WAN link multi-homing.

The companies fixed on adding IPS to the boxes after discussions with existing switch customers, who were looking for technology that could spot and block exploits that were buried in network traffic, Tawbi said.

The new switches will receive Symantec IPS updates automatically through the company's LiveUpdate service. That will extend the window to apply critical software patches, such as the recent patch for Microsoft's Exchange E-mail server, Tawbi said.

However, the device won't substitute for a full-fledged network IPS product, executives said.

"This is designed to find severe, critical vulnerabilities and exploits," said Dan Schrader, director of product marketing for application switches at Nortel. "It's not a replacement for a full-featured IDS or IPS," he said.

Nortel will market and sell the new switch, with annual subscriptions costing $5,000, not including the cost of the switch itself.

While Nortel and Symantec could team up on other products, it was unclear whether there are further products in the pipeline.

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