Taking a 'low carb' approach to wireless and mobile device security is just one way senforce stands out in the security field
It certainly seems a bit coincidental that RSA Security's annual conference this year kicked of on Valentine's Day, clearly the most overly-marketed 'love day' of the year, in San Francisco, arguably one of the most romantic cities in the world.
The RSA conference has grown to become one of the most important security love-fests of the year, attracting tens of thousands of security executives, technology experts and a healthy contingent of hackers and crackers interested in collecting information for their next crypto challenge. It is also a prime platform for unveiling new security products and tools to the masses -- more so than your general trade event, since the audience is totally focused on protecting IT and networking turf.
All of the 'real' announcements and demonstrations, however, did not come close to overshadowing the amount of security 'love' that emanated from the exhibit floor and spilled out from conference rooms. Everyone, it seems, is smitten with security, and has absolutely no reservations about shouting their feelings to the world. There was, for example, that ultimate security lovemeister Bill Gates talking about his company's continued interest and commitment to network security and preaching about coming upgrades that will allow safer Web browsing and more robust anti-virus
Then, there was Sun Microsystems executive vice president, John Loiacono, telling us that no matter what our vendor relationship we will never really be secure. One of the most important things to do, he said, is build trust and not just to erect more hardware and software firewalls. Talk show self-help guru Dr. Phil couldn't have said it better.
Our advice in matters of network security, though, is to trust Tina Turner who summed it all up quite nicely when she sang 'what's love got to do with it?' When it comes to securing your enterprise assets and protecting your wireless network, it is clearly better to have strong and effective technology instead of love and promises. One company that knows this very well is Senforce Technologies, Inc. (www.senforce.com), which is steadily-rising star in policy-enforced endpoint security solutions. At the RSA Security event, Senforce unveiled an integrated suite of products for the enterprise, which is coincidentally branded Endpoint Security Suite 3.0. Not the most clever or most memorable name for a product, but effective nonetheless.
'WPAN protection is important as more mobile workers take advantage of remote Bluetooth-enabled printing kiosks, or deliver PowerPoint presentations at a customer site via a short range wireless connection. It may also come in handy as embedded wireless systems and RFID networks become more prevalent .. '
Why? Basically, the Senforce suite offers a closely knit collection of tools and technologies that together provide a stronger protective curtain for wireless networks. These tools include an advanced firewall (which allows administrators to control applications by location and enforce VPN usage); an integrated file encryption capability; connectivity control, which protects against unauthorized WiFi access point associations; and built-in anti-virus, anti-spyware, and patch updating technologies. Okay, this is not particularly thrilling stuff, and for the most part these are features that are available from other security-minded wireless solutions companies. Why, then, should we pay any more attention to Senforce than we do to other companies in the security realm?
To answer that, we went right to the source and talked to Senforce executives, who provided some details on how Senforce differs from other solutions out there. One of the most obvious differences is that the Senforce solution is that its policy management approach is designed to protect mobile devices and the data they contain even when they are not connected to a wireless network. While most other communications-oriented protection schemes protect devices and monitor usage while they are operating within a defined RF space, the Senforce technology goes a bit deeper to control unauthorized usage, even when the device is being used to zap information to a Bluetooth printer or other device functioning over a short-range wireless personal area network (WPAN).
WPAN protection is important as more mobile workers take advantage of remote Bluetooth-enabled printing kiosks, or deliver PowerPoint presentations at a customer site via a short range wireless connection. It may also come in handy as embedded wireless systems and RFID networks become more prevalent and eventually tap into back-end systems via mobile devices and traditional wireless networks.
"The world is a little more complex than trusted and untrusted paradigms," says Kip Meacham, Senforce director of technical marketing, and a veteran in the continuing wireless wars. Protecting all mobile devices under a well-defined policy umbrella is important, he says. "If an end user is uncertain or unclear, then this is a technology component that keeps devices 'policy compliant'.
One other feature that we like about the Senforce approach is that it employs a centralized management and reporting component which allows the software to be aware of and manage other types of security running on mobile devices. In effect, the Senforce suite checks for policy rules and updates each time a mobile device attempts a connection to the central server, and then paints a very detailed picture for administrators to see what is happening in this wild and wooly mobile space.
While most security solutions stop at the corporate firewall, and require mobile users to essentially protect their device and its localized use, the Senforce tools extend that protective bubble to every device in a company's mobile arsenal, says Tanya Candia, vice president of the company and its chief security honcho.
Finally, we like the fact the Senforce solution takes a 'low carb' approach to security, which is oh so important to maintain a healthy and happy wireless system. Specifically, the technology is designed to avoid 'agent bloat' by utilizing a technology scheme that makes use of less than one percent of CPU processing resources to perform all of its security functions. Heck, we just like the use of the term 'agent bloat'!
We are not the only ones who have been intrigued by the Senforce approach, either. Recently, the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command (AMC) started using the company's Enterprise Mobile Security Manager software to allow air crews to communicate wirelessly with headquarters as they travel from location to location. Basically, the AMC wanted the ability to 'turn off' wireless access when connected to a wired network, without physically removing integrated wireless systems from notebooks and other devices. The Senforce solution lets them do this, and avoid the '$600 toilet seat' approach of reinventing the wheel or purchasing a highly-customized alternative.
Tim Scannell is the president and chief analyst with Shoreline Research, a Quincy, Mass.-based consulting company specializing in mobile and wireless technology and initiatives. Shoreline works with end users, looking to implement mobile solutions, and vendors, developing new products and seeking business and customer opportunities. The company also specializes in training and strategic planning projects. For more information on Shoreline Research and the company's strategic services please go to http://www.shorelineresearch.com.
This was first published in March 2005