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NAI beefs up sniffer, surveillance with DragNet buy

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Network Associates Inc reckons it has bought technology with the potential to give it a unique edge in the internet security marketplace, with the acquisition this week of privately held Traxess Inc of Lindon, Utah for an undisclosed sum,

writes Kevin Murphy.

Traxess's technology, currently in beta under the name DragNet, comprises a high-performance packet sniffer, storage system and analysis software that, the firm says, records all internet traffic at Gigabit speeds, allowing specific events or trends to be reconstructed and analyzed later.

Sandra England, NAI's executive VP of business development and strategy, who closed the deal, said the company will spend the next nine months integrating DragNet into NAI's existing Sniffer network management system. The integrated product has an expected shipping date of the second quarter 2003.

"Traxess's stream-to-disk technology captures all network activity and streams it into high-speed storage devices, then allows you to replay it," England said. She said the company believes the technology gives it a unique advantage over vendors of firewalls and intrusion detection systems. The system includes a purpose-built storage subsystem.

NAI will initially target government and financial institutions. Users will be able to reconstruct activity based on criteria such as source or destination IP address and traffic type, or combinations. For example, a company would be able to replay an entire voice over IP phone call, revisit an employee's browser history for the day, or read their email.

It appears that the Sniffer release planned for first half 2003 will be far more featured than the current network fault detection and analysis system. Under part of a broader partnership announced in May, NAI is to use Internet Security Systems Inc's RealSecure IDS software in future Sniffer releases.

Now, with the Traxess acquisition, Sniffer seems set to evolve into a product that analyses traffic for faults and potential intrusions, as well as having surveillance and forensic capabilities. It was not immediately clear whether ISS will also get access to the new DragNet technology. NAI's England said details have yet to be worked out.

The acquisition is the latest in a series executed by NAI and archrival Symantec Corp. NAI looks set to finally bring former unit McAfee.com Corp back into the fold in the coming months, after messy acquisition talks, while Symantec recently used capital generated by soaring sales to acquire four private companies in the managed security and IDS markets. NAI's England said Symantec does not have anything similar to the DragNet system in its portfolio.

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