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Types of integrated security products and their hazards

I'm checking gateway security products such as Symantec's gateway security appliances. Are there any comparable products? If yes, is there a product comparison chart or article on this subject? How is this type of integrated product different than the traditional products?

There are comparable products. One similar tool is based on open source products, but is available commercially. It's called the CrunchBox, and it is spearheaded by noted phone phreaker Captain Crunch. Another tool is the Netscreen 208 . I haven't seen any comparison charts of these tools, particularly because it's such a squishy notion -- what should go into an integrated suite and what shouldn't. They all include a firewall. Some include VPNs, others IDS and still others antivirus.

The products tend to have a more integrated view of management and are therefore easier to configure and manage than a bunch of different systems. However, from a security perspective, there is cause for concern. Bundling a bunch of tools on the same machine leaves an organization vulnerable to a hole in any one of the tools. If one has a security vulnerability, that hole can be used to undermine the rest of the services on the box. So, speaking hypothetically, if there is a buffer-overflow vulnerability in, say, the antivirus piece of the puzzle, it may be exploited to possibly reconfigure the firewall. Yikes! While they may be useful for SOHO or other small networks, for enterprise solutions, I prefer having full-fledged firewalls, with all the bells and whistles on separate boxes.

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This was last published in June 2002

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