3Com produces hardware firewall for notebook PCs

3Com's Type II and III PC Card firewalls enforce security policy for mobile users depending on whether they are inside or outside the network perimeter.

3Com Corp. has released its first hardware firewall on a PC Card for notebook PCs.

The Santa Clara, Calif., vendor's Embedded Firewall Solution suite of centrally managed products initially included desktop and server PCI cards plus an Embedded Firewall Policy Server.

'We saw a need to push network security out to the client space,' said James Teel, 3Com's director of security solutions. Putting a firewall in hardware improves security performance compared with software protection, he said.

The Embedded Firewall Solution uses technology developed by Secure Computing Corp. of San Jose, Calif., for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Information Assurance and Survivability suite of programs.

Security holes

'Commercial software is riddled with security holes, and attacks are so common that the Defense Department requires full-time staffs to analyze and respond to serious incidents, while still only seeing a small portion of the attacks,' DARPA said in a report on fiscal 2002 and 2003 programs.

DARPA's distributed embedded firewall defeated a military red team during the 2001 Fleet Battle Experiment India, the report said, and the Navy has begun budgeting to buy the embedded firewalls in bulk.

Embedded hardware firewalls do not rely on a host computer's operating system, so they can inspect packets and drop malicious ones before they reach the OS. The Policy Server pushes the security policy out to the cards, where users cannot alter or disable it.

The server detects whether a notebook PC is connecting from inside or outside the protected network and applies security policy depending on location. Remote connections can be forced through a virtual private network.

The security policy can apply to individual users and media access control addresses, subnets, workgroups or user roles.

Type II or III PC Card firewalls cost $219 each or $3,999 in packs of 20. A desktop PCI card sells for $179 each or $3,999 for 25, and server PCI cards cost $329 each or $2,599 for 10. The Policy Server software license for 10 clients is $299, or $995 for 1,000.

Contact 3Com at 800-638-3266.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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