TrendNetwork security to move toward "complete packet inspection"

Published 19 September 2007

The new approach will embed security in a pervasive manner throughout the entire network to provide the situational awareness necessary to respond instantly to threats or problems and contain the damage before it spreads into the entire network

As more business, security, and personal activities become “net-centric,” the need for increased network safety and security increases. The current models of providing network security have their limits, though. “Security in the network will remain unacceptably poor until it becomes embedded in the network at the local level, not just the centralized locations where it is found today,” said Rony Kay, founder and CEO of Mountain View, California-based cPacket Networks. Key to pervasive security, said Kay, will be low-cost, “complete packet inspection,” powered by a new generation of chips which permit wire-speed monitoring and control to be established essentially “everywhere” in the network. “Security in the network today can be likened to a model where local law enforcement vanishes from our communities and we are left with the several massive, bureaucratic federal agencies to keep our streets, homes, and playgrounds safe,” said Kay, who spoke at a recent industry seminar. “Without pervasive, local control of our own environment, our entire social infrastructure would break down.”

Network infrastructure is no different, he said. There have been massive investments in security, yet the network remains vulnerable and extremely fragile, as evidenced by recent events. “Look at the August 16th network woes at Charles Schwab, the 18-hour site outage at NetFlix on July 23rd, and the extremely public collapse of Skype’s network for two days, also on August 16,” said Kay. “These extremely public events — as well as thousands that escape the notice of the media — are a sign that current approaches are insufficient. Like policing our own communities, we need a multi-tiered approach that depends heavily on local network security capabilities, embedded right in the infrastructure, where they can deliver broad situational awareness and effective response before the problem takes the network down.”

Kay explained that the difficulty is that the complexity of the network infrastructure is increasing rapidly, with more nodes, more diverse traffic, and higher bandwidth requirements with each passing day. At the same time, current technological limitations have made the cost of adding security processing to networking equipment significantly higher than the cost of the network connectivity itself — by as much as an order of magnitude. The result is that today’s security is highly centralized, inordinately expensive, and totally lacking in the agility, visibility, and immediate response capability necessary to keep up with the threats. “It’s like commissioning Homeland Security to deal with a traffic