HP tests latest security tool

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has moved its Active Counter Measures network security software into beta tests with a select group of...

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has moved its Active Counter Measures network security software into beta tests with a select group of European and US customers in hopes of readying the product for a 2005 release.

"We have been working with [customers] for the past month now," said Tony Redmond, vice-president and chief technology officer with HP Services at the HP World conference. "We are fine tuning it now and making sure it's good to go," he said.

The company is hoping to release the product in 2005, Redmond added.

Active Counter Measures uses techniques similar to those of network attackers to scan the network for machines that might be vulnerable to attack. It then installs a software patch to repair the vulnerability.

"This is a good worm," said Redmond. "It's turning the techniques [of the attackers] back on them."

HP is still working out how to market the product, which was first disclosed in February of this year, but it seems unlikely that it will be included as part of the company's OpenView suite of management software. "I think it's more likely to be a service," Redmond said.

But Active Counter Measures could be integrated into a hardware offering. "It's definitely the type of technology that could be built into an appliance," he said.

HP's network administrators, who manage two large "Class A" networks capable of hosting approximately 33 million TCP/IP addresses, have not been affected by a worm or a virus since 2002, in part because of the company's deployment of Active Counter Measures, Redmond said.

Though other suppliers offer similar software, HP's internal use of Active Counter Measures is noteworthy, said Mike Ciembronowicz, a systems administrator with Amgen. "It is remarkable that they have managed to keep viruses out of those two large networks for the past few years," he said.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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