Network security under the Mistletoe

GCN Insider | Trends & technologies that affect the way government does IT

It was a fairly unheralded product announcement. In May, Viking InterWorks (www.vikinginterworks.com) of Ranch Santa Margarita, Calif., said it would sell the first sub-$6,000, 2Gb VPN/firewall appliance. Considering Gigabit firewalls can cost 10 times that amount, we wanted to hear more.

Late last month we spoke with Mervyn Alamgir, director of marketing for Mistletoe Technologies Inc. (www.mistletoetech.com) of Cupertino, Calif. Mistletoe, which was started by executives from Force10 Networks, made the chip that made the Viking V appliance fast and affordable. Its Security System-on-a-Chip is effectively a network co-processor that offloads IPSec encryption/decryption, stateful firewall, denial-of-service protection and other functions from the CPUs and network processors commonly found in high-end appliances. Thus the high performance and low cost.

It appears the Energy Department and high-performance computing shops are taking notice. 'Lawrence Berkeley Labs was able to take out their Cisco PIX [firewall], which is a $30,000 appliance and ran at a couple hundred megabits, and replace it with a Viking InterWorks appliance and was able to achieve true gigabit throughout for their network,' Alamgir told GCN.

Alamgir said Mistletoe was working with a variety of networking vendors to integrate its chips into their products. And in October, the company expects its technology to begin testing under NIST's Federal Information Processing Standards. A FIPS-140-2 Level 2 appliance based on Mistletoe technology could be out by the end of the year.

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