10:29 AM

Cisco And IBM Team To Boost Security

The vendors will expand their partnership to help customers improve management of users logging onto systems and offer better protection against hackers.

Cisco Systems and IBM said Friday that they will expand their longstanding partnership and integrate some of their offerings to bolster the security of their joint customers.

Executives from both companies say the collaborative effort will help customers more security and efficiently manage users logging onto networks as well as better protect their systems from hackers and fast-moving Internet worms.

The companies say the combination of IBM's Tivoli Identity Manager software with Cisco's Secure Access Control Server will help customers more cost-effectively and securely manage employees, customers, and partners accessing systems and applications from remote locations. The combined technology can help customers reduce so-called "orphan" accounts—many companies often fail to terminate these accounts when an employee leaves a company or a relationship with a business partner is complete.

The companies will also combine IBM's ThinkVantage Technology, found in IBM ThinkPad notebooks and ThinkCentre Desktops, with newer versions of Cisco's virtual private network applications. The user-identity information, which is stored and encrypted on IBM's security chip, adds an additional layer of security beyond typical user name and passwords, and makes it much harder for hackers to uncover an employee's user name and password and log onto the system remotely.

The companies also are moving to add additional security to desktops and servers. IBM says it will join the recently announced Cisco Network Admission Control program and will integrate some aspects of its IBM Tivoli security management software with Cisco's networking gear. The Cisco NAC program aims to help companies define security policies that desktops and servers must meet before they are granted access to the network.

Eric Ogren, a senior analyst at the Yankee Group, says a recent survey conducted by the research firm shows that Cisco and IBM were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 by respondents as "the most trusted security product vendors."

"The big message is that security is moving deeper into the network," says Ogren.

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