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Cisco lets slip NAC code to open source

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Cisco is to release the source code of its networks access control (NAC) client to the open source community.

This comes on the back of Cisco's security portfolio revamp, announced this week at the RSA conference in San Francisco. Cisco Trust Agent (CTA) software doesn't fit in with the new strategy, which places less emphasis on desktop clients and more on features like preventing confidential data from leaking. Hence the company's decision to turn over CTA's development to the open source community.

Network Admission Control technologies enforce security policy, for example enabling fully patched systems to access a network, while aiming to control malware outbreaks. The technology has network and desktop components.

Cisco now wants to focus on the network side of the equation. By ceasing development work on CTA, the network giant says it can devote more energy to other areas of network access control. Its decision follows an interoperability pact between Microsoft and Cisco, announced last September, designed to enforce security policies on Windows PCs and servers.

The two agreed to ensure Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP) and Cisco's Network Admission Control (NAC) systems worked together. Interoperability means customers can deploy Cisco's NAC and upgrade to Microsoft's NAP once Windows Longhorn Server ships later this year. Cisco Trust Agent does not figure in this revised roadmap.

"CTA will be something that's open source. That's just logically where it should end up," Bob Gleichauf, chief technology officer of Cisco's Security Technology Group, told InfoWorld. "We don't want to be in the CTA business, so we're going to just open it up." ®

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