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InfoSecurity Europe NetScreen has boosted the speed and added a new customised ASIC to its line of hardware firewall and VPN appliances.

The NetScreen-5000 Series, based on its GigaScreen-II ASIC, boasts firewall speeds of up to 12 Gigabits per second and virtual private network (VPN) speeds of up to 6 Gbps. The NetScreen-5000 Series comprises the NetScreen-5200, which was introduced in Europe at the InfoSecurity show yesterday, and the NetScreen-5400 (which trebles the performance of the 5200), which will be available in Q3.

According to the company, the NetScreen-5200 (which costs $129,000 and upwards in Europe) achieves more than 13 times the firewall performance and 23 times the VPN performance of competing software firewalls in dealing with small data packets.

The NetScreen-5200, capable of 4 Gbps firewall and 2 Gbps VPN performance, is a two-slot, 2U chassis that supports up to eight Gigabit Ethernet interfaces or two Gigabit Ethernet plus 24 Fast Ethernet security interfaces. The NetScreen-5400 is a four-slot, 5U chassis capable of up to 12 Gbps firewall and 6 Gbps VPN performance, with a maximum combination of 78 Gigabit and Fast Ethernet ports. Both products can handle up to 25,000 VPN tunnels and 1 million concurrent TCP connections.

Peter Crowcombe, a marketing manager at NetScreen, said the speed of the devices made them suitable for use by companies to protect their internal infrastructures, as well as making them suitable for high speed service provider networks.

Large enterprises will be able to use the NetScreen's technology to segment internal networks into secure sub-nets to guard against internal hacking, wireless LAN security risks, or Nimda-like worms. Most deployments, however, are expected to be on the edge of the networks of service provider or large enterprise networks, Crowcombe added.

Ease of deployment and the (theoretically) enhanced security that comes from a hardware-based approach are among the reasons vendors such as NetScreen are beginning to take market share away from software firewall vendors, such as Cisco and Check Point Software. To counter this threat Check Point has made alliances with appliance vendors, including Nokia.

In January, analysts Frost & Sullivan reported that appliances generated more revenues than software firewalls for the first time during the course of last year. ®

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