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6/1/2011
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Niksun Launches Real-Time Network Monitoring, Forensics Appliance

The NetOmni Alpine appliance promises to deliver real-time forensics, performance, and security monitoring for large-scale networks.

Networking technology vendor Niksun launched a forensics appliance on Tuesday that is geared towards capturing and revealing all traffic that takes place over the network. The company's technology platform, named Alpine, is used as the corner stone of the NetOmni appliance.

NetOmni is an appliance that is installed in-line on the network and consolidates IDS, forensics, packet capture, flow & SNMP analysis, VoIP monitoring, and other capabilities into a single, unified platform. The appliance offers a single management console to provide IT management with instant situational awareness of security threats, network operations, capacity planning, application profiling, and more.

Niksun is placing special importance on the launch of NetOmni Alpine, driven by the growth in business social networking and how easy it is for knowledge workers to share information across company boundaries. It is a situation that is sure to raise concerns with those tasked with network security and compliance initiatives.

"NetOmni offers important capabilities to businesses that are exploring and growing their collaboration efforts," Parag Pruthi, founder, chairman and CEO of Niksun, said in an interview. "NetOmni Alpine operates at multi-gigabit rates across heterogeneous networks, allowing organizations to simultaneously capture, correlate, and analyze all data-in-motion, which provides true, 100% situational awareness. That ensures that organizations can identify data leakage problems, perform e-discovery tasks, and audit communications, allowing them to determine if communications and collaboration events fit within company policy."

Pricing for the appliance starts around $10,000. The company offers three versions: Reporting, Analytics, and Full Suite.

An all-in-one forensics appliance should appeal to businesses that face growing challenges monitoring what it happening on their networks, according to Raj Mehta, CEO and president of InfoSys International, a New York technology consulting firm and systems integrator. "Compliance, e-discovery, and security auditing are becoming key issues for both public and private companies," he said. "Many of my larger customers are actively exploring how they can analyze traffic in real-time to prevent data leakage and enforce security policies, and Niksun's new appliance fits right in with those goals."

Mehta is echoing a trend that has been identified by Gartner analysts John Pescatore and Lawrence Orans, who last year issued a report on the network forensics market. "Businesses have a number of use cases that drive the need to replay and analyze events that occurred across corporate networks," they wrote. "Some organizations take a more 'lean forward' approach to investigate network events on a proactive basis to stay ahead of potential incidents."

The organizations mentioned by the Gartner analysts are setting the example for others, specifically by demonstrating that a more proactive approach to analyzing traffic in motion leads to a better security posture.

Today, most businesses are moving massive amounts of data across network boundaries to associates, customers, vendors, and employees. Making sure that information is offered unfettered, yet in a secure fashion, while still following corporate guidelines is becoming more important as the trend to share information grows.

Add in the explosion of mobile devices and remote access technologies, it becomes evident that protecting data is becoming more difficult and managing the current technologies in place is becoming more time consuming and less effective. What's more, security attacks, intrusions, and hacking attempts are becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect.

That situation leaves those charged with network security uneasy and, worse yet, unsure if their network is hardened enough to prevent an attack or compromise. In-house testing and taking the word of security vendors can only build a limited amount of confidence in installed security systems. Simply put, businesses need forensics capabilities, not only to analyze traffic and prevent breaches, but also to make sure attacks have not occurred in the past without being noticed.

As of late, many businesses have run into attacks that compromise the protection of data, which have devastated their network operations or damaged their reputation. Take, for example, the recent revelation that Google's user's profile information can be easily accessed, highlighting the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect information. Another example can be found in Honda's failure to protect customer data.

Those situations show why forensics can be an important part of network security, leaving those charged with protecting socially shared data with a few questions they must ask themselves, such as "How am I protecting shared data?", "How can I detect if information is compromised?", "How do I validate my security practices?", and "What should I do if there is a suspected breach?".

Those questions should ring loudly for businesses that are pursuing the open exchange of information via social outlets with customers, partners, and vendors.

In this new Tech Center report, we profile five database breaches--and extract the lessons to be learned from each. Plus: A rundown of six technologies to reduce your risk. Download it here (registration required).

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