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Hackers, Beware The New Bouncer

It's not going to be so easy to get in on network port 80 anymore

Companies realize they've got to do a better job locking the front doors--of their business firewalls, that is. An increasing number of attacks are aimed at network port 80, the port set up to accept all Web application traffic, according to the 2002 CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey. By the very nature of its function, the port offers hackers an easy way to get in. But new security guards are popping up to protect Web application data.

This week, Stratum8 Networks joins two other vendors, KaVaDo and Sanctum, in vetting legitimate transactions on port 80 from potential hacks. The gear maker released its Application Protection System, an application-security appliance designed to protect intranets, extranets and external Web sites. Starting at $25,000, each Stratum8 APS protects between five and 10 Web servers.

WebEx Communications Inc., an online meeting company, started beta-testing APS a couple of months ago. The company is still debating whether to install the appliance on its production system, but director of security Barak Engel says he sees a clear return on investment. He and his security team won't have to rush to deploy software patches when hit by blended threats such as last year's Code Red worm or when new software security flaws are disclosed, Engel says.

"You still have to fix them, but this buys you enough time to test and deploy patches properly," Engel says. "You know the servers will probably not get hacked." He's tried hacking in himself with buffer overflows and other attacks, but so he far hasn't been able to get through. "I imagined APS was snickering back at me," he jokes.

The capabilities of this new breed of tools should particularly frustrate hackers with modest skills, known as script-kiddies, says Pete Lindstrom, senior director of security strategies at Hurwitz Group. Such hackers download easy-to-deploy tools that perform Web attacks such as buffer overflows.

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