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HP ProCurve gets the NAC

The enforcer at the edge

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HP ProCurve has dived into NAC (network access control), announcing an endpoint security appliance and Network Immunity - software that ties into a threat-detection appliance on one side and the network switches on the other, and uses 802.1X port control to lock out miscreants and network threats as they are detected.

The two can be used separately or together, and they work across both wired and wireless networks, ProCurve CTO Paul Congdon said. They can also link to updated versions of ProCurve's Manager Plus and Identity Driven Manager software to apply access policies based on user identity, type of device, time of day, and location, for example.

Congdon acknowledged that his company is late to the NAC party, but claimed that this has allowed it to do a better job of tying security - driven by the Windows-based Network Immunity application - into the network and centralising its security and policy management.

"I honestly believe we are leading in the integration of the LAN to the security system," he said. "It all plugs into our ProCurve Manager, so we have anomaly detection and access control in one tool, where most often they are separate."

He added: "Very few others consistently enforce at the LAN edge, but it is fundamentally the right place to do it. We are unifying those points of attachment and enforcing at the closest point of the network."

According to Congdon, it is vital to push security out to the network edge - so not only does Network Immunity enforce at the switch, it also uses the switches as sensors. It takes in sFlow, virus-throttle and SNMP data for anomaly and attack detection, and then uses port-mirroring to invisibly copy suspect traffic to an IDS/IPS (intrusion detection/prevention system) or UTM (unified threat management) device for analysis.

"Having security only in the core is like having your security guard in the middle of the building and bringing all your guests there to be checked," he said. "We enforce at the edge - we want to use the LAN as much as possible."

As with most other endpoint security devices, the ProCurve NAC 800 checks the status of incoming clients - whether their anti-malware apps are up-to-date, the patch level of the O/S, browser security settings, and so on - and can then control their network access using either 802.1X, in-line or DHCP-based enforcement. The technology is bought-in, but ProCurve would not say who from.

When it becomes available in June, the Network Immunity software will cost €4,299 for a 50-user licence, and will support UTMs from Cisco, Fortinet and Sonicwall, plus the Snort open source IDS. The new versions of IDM and ProCurve Manager will be free to existing users, but ProCurve said that pricing for the NAC 800, which comes out in the third quarter, has yet to be fixed. ®

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