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2/1/2005
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Putting An End To Attacks That Slip Through The System

Company deploys Mirage Networks' CounterPoint appliance to look for malicious activity across the network.

Brett Childress doesn't want his network to get nailed by the next fast-spreading Internet attack. Childress, director of IT infrastructure for National Instruments Corp., the $514 million maker of test and measurement systems, is confident in the company's security defenses, including firewall, antivirus, and patch-management programs. But there's always the chance something wicked gets through.

That's why last month National Instruments completed its initial installation of Mirage Networks Inc.'s CounterPoint security appliance. The appliance spots and contains attacks that could slip through traditional security defenses--for instance, a mobile worker who gets infected while traveling and then connects to the corporate network, or attacks that may bypass antivirus software or take advantage of a misconfigured firewall.

National Instruments has operations in more than 40 countries and more than 3,100 employees and a diverse PC environment, which includes Windows XP, Windows 95, Linux, Solaris, and other operating systems. "That makes it especially challenging to maintain proper system configurations and security updates," Childress says.

CounterPoint doesn't interfere with network traffic as it looks for malicious activity, Childress says. And like most security software, such as antivirus and end-point firewalls, CounterPoint doesn't require software to be loaded on each system. "That's a big plus," he says.

The first CounterPoint deployment focused on the Austin, Texas, campus, and in the next few weeks the company will install CounterPoint at its Hungarian manufacturing facility, and then at other large branches around the world, Childress explains. CounterPoint is also a powerful weapon against so-called zero-day attacks, when hackers attack software vulnerabilities that have yet to be patched by the software maker, he says.

So far, the deployment has gone smoothly and helped the company spot some systems that needed attention, such as PCs infected with spyware and systems not fully up to date with security patches, Childress says. "We started seeing benefits quickly," he says.

"We've always approached security with layered defenses, but there are always systems that fall behind. Our next layer of defense is now Mirage," he says. The biggest benefit is CounterPoint's protecting end points no matter what operating system they're running, Childress says. "And that's protecting a company's productivity, and that all comes back to the network."

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