Realtime firewall-endpoint links focus, accelerate IT-security response: Sophos exec

Security administrators can isolate the source of network security breaches and respond much more quickly thanks to a unified architecture in which client and firewall work in lockstep, a Sophos executive has claimed as the company this week takes the wraps off of its long-gestating 'Security Heartbeat' technology.

The technology – formerly known by the code name Project Copernicus – unifies Sophos' universal threat management technology with next-generation firewall capabilities the company acquired in its February 2014 acquisition of Cyberoam Technologies.

A unified client-and-firewall architecture keeps the new Sophos XG firewall in constant communication with endpoint devices, which measure their health based on a stoplight system informed by particular types of activities. Changes to device status are immediately communicated to the firewall, which can instantly close relevant network ports and execute defined policies – for example, isolating breached machines from the Internet and the rest of the network.

“Firewall policies today are based on source, destination, application, and user information, but there isn't anything associated with the security posture,” vice president of product management Chris Kraft told CSO Australia. “We fundamentally believe that security's decisions can be enriched and made to be more effective by having more context at each point in the security ecosystem.”

Early testers of the technology, he added, have confirmed that constant communication between endpoints and firewall offer significantly improved response times because network administrators no longer have to trawl through logs to manually correlate firewall alerts with particular clients, then dig through the client to identify the application and process that is to blame.

“It's often a 2-hour exercise to figure out, once the firewall says there's a problem, what is the internal non-routable IP address that's doing something malicious,” Kraft said. “Resolving that down to a system, to a user and specifically to the process that's generating this traffic, takes time – but by piping the client and firewall together, we can easily and elegantly isolate and protect systems that are misbehaving in the network.”

“The administrator has all the information they need to immediately remedy the issue, whether the resource is in the organisation or in a managed service provider.”

The release of the technology marks a period of reinvention for Sophos, whose CEO Kris Hagerman last year publicly committed the company to the cloud and has moved aggressively to expand its technology.

Security Heartbeat is part of a broader strategic initiative, known as Project Galileo, that will see the company expanding the scope of its unified defence over time – for example, by increasing the firewall's interaction with mobile devices that are increasingly being pegged as vectors for network compromise.

In August, Sophos redoubled its efforts in Australia's buoyant security market, launching a new local channel to put more momentum behind its new technologies.

Sophos joins a raft of security vendors that are busy pushing new technologies into the market: Symantec, Dell, Fortinet, LeaseWeb and others have all recently expanded their product rosters as they join the industry's stampede to reinvent itself around the cloud.

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Tags network securitysophosfirewallCyberoam TechnologiesSecurity HeartbeatSecurity administratorCSO Australia

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