Sophos to integrate NAC into desktop security

Endpoint Security will now support NAC protocols from Cisco, Microsoft

Sophos will weave network access control (NAC) functions into its client antivirus security product, Endpoint Security, over the next 12 months, the company's chief executive officer said on Thursday at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany.

The software will support NAC protocols introduced by Cisco Systems and Microsoft in addition to others, said Sophos CEO Steve Munford. The NAC functions will be controlled from the single control panel that Sophos has for managing Endpoint Security, Munford said.

In January, Sophos bought Endforce, a company in Columbus, Ohio, that specialized in NAC software. Next month, Sophos will offer a separate NAC product, which will then be folded into Endpoint Security.

Sophos is one of many security vendors adding NAC software to their portfolios. NAC software manages how devices such as laptops are allowed to connect to a corporate network and can denying access if the computer does not have up-to-date antivirus definitions or the latest OS patches.

Interest in NAC software has been robust among enterprises among concerns that roaming laptops could introduce viruses or other malicious software to corporate networks when reconnected.

"We see that [NAC] as a critical part of security," Munford said.

Munford said its NAC software will address some of the complexities around running the software. While it's important to protect the corporate network from threats, it's not good to suddenly completely shut down remote users. That means the software needs flexible features for setting policies, Munford said.

For example, a remote user might still be allowed access to the Internet or certain parts of the corporate network if they did not meet a policy, Munford said. Different levels of access could be granted to different classes of users such as company executives, affiliated contractors or unknown guests on the network, he said.

Current Analysis, a market research company, predicts that mid-size organizations with 500 to 2,500 employees will lead in adopting NAC technology this year, with the rest of the market developing over the next two years.

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