Host IPS

Crystal ball gazing

Host IPS may represent the pinnacle of today's enterprise IT security technology, but about the future?

Grid Computing, which many see as the next step in the evolution of the Internet, took several steps forward in May with the formation of the Enterprise Grid Alliance, a consortium of organisations, with the aim of developing Grid Computing on an open standards basis.

At its core, Grid Computing is based on an open set of standards and protocols - e.g. the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) - that support communications across heterogeneous, geographically dispersed environments.

Despite its obvious advantages, Grid Computing's evolution has been stymied by a lack of security. The EGA, whose founders include HP, Oracle and Sun Microsystems, seeks to change this.

Grid Computing creates a virtual network of distributed computing resources, which looks rather like the Internet, but operates like a single, large virtual computer. To create such a model, a very high level of security must be applied to the core components of the Grid, namely the PCs and computer systems that go to make up the Grid itself.

Host IPS technology, thanks to its self-contained nature, can cope well with Grid Computing. IDS technology, with its need for frequent updates, cannot.

The potential losers in the Grid Computing future are those organisations that have outsourced their IT security function. Outsourcing is always portrayed as giving enterprises a high degree of flexibility. Whilst this is true to a point, IT security outsourcing does not mix well with Grid Computing. Host IPS technology does.

Before the Internet evolves into a Grid Computing model, it is important for anyone involved in choosing an IDS or IPS-based IT security system to realise that the types of attacks on enterprise systems is rising steadily.

Because of this, if that system is without an active, in-line intrusion-detection-and-prevention system capable of performing deep analysis by leveraging multiple detection methods - and dropping malicious traffic - then that network is not protected against sophisticated attacks.

From his base in Sheffield, England, Steve Gold has been an IT journalist specialising in communications and security for 22 years.

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