TippingPoint gets security nod

Intrusion prevention appliances certified as compliant with Common Criteria standard

TippingPoint Technologies Inc. recently earned a security stamp of approval that could make the company's intrusion-prevention appliances more attractive to government agencies.

After completing rigorous testing last month, the com-pany's UnityOne high-speed intrusion-prevention systems became the first in their cat- egory to earn the highly regarded Common Criteria security certification, TippingPoint officials said.

Intrusion-prevention systems, an emerging class of security products, block cyberattacks in real time rather than merely notifying information technology administrators about attacks and recommending actions to take.

Common Criteria certification is a standardized testing and approval process for security products recognized by 16 countries, including the United States. To achieve certification, UnityOne products went through security testing at an accredited lab and were validated by officials from the National Security Agency and Aerospace Corp., said Gary Swenson, program manager at TippingPoint.

The certification is "significant because [companies] can't sell [security products] to the U.S. government without Common Criteria designation," said Diann Carpenter, technical director for Common Criteria at Cable & Wireless plc's testing lab, which tested UnityOne. Cable & Wireless is one of eight labs designated to perform testing in the United States.

The UnityOne systems received Evaluation Assurance Level 2 certification. Officials said the company will work to achieve higher levels in the future.

The UnityOne product line also became the first to obtain certification in all four protection profiles — analyzer, sensor, scanner and system — validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and NSA.

Other intrusion-prevention vendors will also move toward getting the Common Criteria stamp of approval, said Eric Ogren, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group, an IT consulting firm. "TippingPoint is leading the parade," he said.

Becoming certified cost the company a six-figure sum, said James Cahill, TippingPoint's vice president of homeland security solutions. However, Common Criteria "is a standard with teeth," he said. Companies have to make the investment if they want to undergo the testing.

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Protection profiles

Common Criteria certification, an international standardized test for security products, includes protection profiles to aid in evaluating intrusion-detection systems' effectiveness. The profiles are analyzer, sensor, scanner and system.

The profile details are as follows:

Analyzer: Products should be able to receive sensor or scanner data and apply analytical processes and information to derive conclusions about intrusions.

Sensor and scanner: Products should be able to monitor in real time a set of information technology resources to identify events that may indicate potential vulnerabilities in or misuse of those IT resources.

System: Products should be able to monitor an IT system — both statically and in real time — for activity that may affect the system's assets and react appropriately.

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