GCN Insider | Quick, protect that 10-Gbps network traffic

TRENDS & TECHNOLOGIES that affect the way government does IT

FAST SECURITY: Force10 Networks P-Series

Unless you work at a government lab, or some other high-performance-requiring agency, you might not have a 10-gigabit network. But chances are you will; it's just a matter of when. The challenge'as Energy Department labs and other high-performance users know'becomes how do you protect network traffic running at that high a rate?

Force10 Networks Inc. of Milpitas, Calif., last week launched its new P-Series of 10-Gbps Ethernet intrusion detection/prevention appliances. Prior to the announcement, Force10's Stephen Garrison told GCN that the company's lab customers, such as Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest and Sandia national labs, had been asking Force10 (which made its name selling 10-Gbps switches/routers) for something to help secure their high-speed connections without bogging them down. So last year, Force10 went looking for some help and in November bought a tiny company called MetaNetworks Technologies, which had developed and demonstrated the first 10-Gbps IDS/IPS with the help of the National Science Foundation, DOD and others. That product evolved into the P-Series.

The P-Series uses field-programmable gate array technology to perform its network inspection. This means traffic doesn't go through microprocessors, allowing the P-Series to operate at wire speed. 'So we can do deep-packet inspection inside an appliance at 10-Gbps speed,' Garrison said. Because the inspection technology is dynamic, network managers can drop in new signatures on the fly without rebooting, and Garrison said the P-Series can process up to 1,000 rules in parallel.

The appliances run a hardened Linux operating system with such open-source network analyzers as Snort, Ethereal and TCP Dump on top of it. Force10 is also offering a 1-Gbps version of the appliance for places that run 10-Gbps at the core but 1-Gbps at the edges of their networks. The 10-Gbps version costs about $95,000 and Garrison said you can find it on the GSA schedule.

About the Authors


Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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