Argus develops trusted Gibraltar OS for e-commerce, other federal online apps

Argus Systems Group Inc.—keeping pace with rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun
Microsystems Inc., —has designed a trusted operating system for electronic commerce
and online government applications.


Argus’ preconfigured Gibraltar operating system is based on SunSoft Solaris 2.5.1.
“You can install it right out of the box and drop applications into it” without
any special knowledge of trusted systems, said Paul McNabb, Argus chief technology
officer. The current Gibraltar OS supports 200 server compartments or partitions.


Argus of Savoy, Ill., recently signed a basic ordering agreement with the NATO
Consultation, Command and Control agency in Brussels, Belgium, to purchase an unspecified
number of Argus trusted software packages.


A trusted OS is especially important if a system connects to multiple networks, McNabb
said. Gibraltar secures Internet connections to internal information systems that
perimeter firewalls and encryption alone cannot adequately protect, he said.


Using the trusted OS, McNabb said, agencies can set up compartments on their servers
for “commercial applications like Netscape server [software] running in their own
environment, but unable to corrupt it or get access to other networks.” Even if there
are bugs in such commercial applications, intruders cannot trash a Web site or replace
pages, he said.


NATO is evaluating Argus’ Microsoft Windows NT version of Gibraltar, called Deep
Purple, which handles automated security labeling and access controls for NT, Internet
Explorer and Microsoft Word 97, said Gene Bulla, vice president of Argus government
systems.


Future versions of Deep Purple will integrate with Microsoft Office 97, Exchange Server
and Outlook 98 e-mail client software, he said.


Gibraltar runs on Intel Pentium or Sun Sparc processors. It complies with the United
Kingdom’s Information Technology Security Evaluation Criteria and combines
Argus’ B1-certified PitBull security bundle with a secure programming shell, secure
Web server and security gateway.


The trusted OS prevents abuse of the Unix root account by replacing it with a secure
root authorization and least-privilege mechanism, McNabb said.


Deep Purple is about $300; Gibraltar ranges in price up to $50,000.    



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