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Is a 'self-defending network' possible?

Certain vendors have long touted the benefits of what has been called the "self-defending network." Can a self-defending network really be possible, and if so, do I have to buy a certain vendor's products to have one?

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The term "self-defending network" is clearly marketing hype promoted by a certain manufacturer of networking and security gear. If you're asking whether there's a product available that can be plugged into your network and allow you to rest easy, the answer is an unqualified "absolutely not." No matter what network devices you choose, there is simply no substitute for the time and expertise of qualified security professionals.

That said, there is some benefit gained from choosing interoperable security products, which is what the "self-defending" expression may be suggesting. If you have an intrusion prevention system (IPS), security incident manager and network admission control (NAC) system that can recognize each other and even make use of each others' data, you can save a great deal of time that you'd normally spend correlating events from each system individually.

As with any marketing catchphrase, I'd urge you to take the term "self-defending network" with a grain of salt. Perhaps the idea would be more accurately termed as a "coordinated defense network." But I guess that wouldn't sell as many widgets.

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This was first published in October 2007

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