January 21, 1998 5:20 AM PST

Cisco to use VPN from RedCreek

Beefing up its hardware firewall offering, networking giant Cisco (CSCO) will integrate virtual private network (VPN) technology from RedCreek Communications into Cisco's PIX firewall.

Cisco also will offer RedCreek's Ravlin Soft remote access client software for mobile and remote users. The RedCreek component for the PIX firewall is RedCreek's 10-mbps encryption hardware.

The moves are part of a broader Cisco strategy to embrace security standards from the Internet Engineering Task Force--a move that last week cost firewall software company Check Point (CHKPF) about 15 percent of its stock price. Wall Street's Morgan Stanley Dean Witter downgraded Check Point's stock because of anticipated moves by Cisco and Microsoft (MSFT).

Check Point's stock gained about half what it lost last week on rumors about Cisco's plans, closing at 3 p.m. Tuesday to 36-1/2 on heavy volume. Analyst Stephen Sigmond at Wessels, Arnold & Henderson reiterated his strong buy recommendation after Cisco's announcement.

"Check Point is definitely a company we feel has a strong market opportunity and a solid strategy to deal with strong competition from Cisco some day," Sigmond said, although he thinks other firewall firms with weaker distribution could be hurt by Cisco's security moves.

Cisco claims it's the first major networking company to deliver technology that complies with IP Security Protocol (IPSec).

"We have a commitment across Cisco to IPSec standardization and products that will result from that effort," said Kurt Kruger, Cisco's product line manager for PIX firewalls. "Given Cisco's position on IPSec, we held back from proprietary solutions to look for IPSec solutions. We also wanted to support Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 95."

Cisco will incorporate IPSec support in the next version, due in March, of its IOS software that controls routers, switches, and other network devices.

Cisco also said it will work with Microsoft on security technology for Windows NT Server 5.0. Microsoft also will license Cisco's software to support Internet Security Association Key Management Protocol (ISAKMP), a part of the IPSec standard. ISAKMP is the method to handle public keys for digital certificates in IPSec.

Cisco indicated it is likely to add IPSec support in its Centri software firewall for Windows NT.

Separately, Internet Security Systems said its RealSecure 2.0 intrusion detection software will now be able to reconfigure Cisco routers to shut out attacks from hackers or other unauthorized users. RealSecure already can reconfigure Check Point's FireWall-1 in similar circumstances.

"It's a continued evolution of our adaptive security management strategy," Patrick Taylor, ISS director of strategic marketing, said. "Our products recognize vulnerabilities and threats on the network. Particularly for the threats, there's a strong need and benefit to act immediately."

In addition, Cisco added to its growing portfolio of management software that supports Microsoft's Windows NT operating system. Two tools to manage the company's switches and access inventory information on its networking gear will join a growing industry movement to add NT-based management applications to previously Unix-dominated enterprise-wide administration software.

CiscoWorks for Switched Internetworks and Cisco Resource Manager are both available now for NT. A link to Hewlett-Packard's NT-based OpenView tools will be released in March.

 

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