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Momentum builds for Cisco's NAC program

Cisco said 15 companies will deliver products compatible with its Network Admission Control program in the first part of 2005.

IT managers who dream of a self-defending network have new reason for hope, Cisco Systems said Monday. Fifteen security vendors will deliver products in the first part of 2005 that are compatible with its Network Admission Control (NAC) program.

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant called the news a key component of its strategy to help customers build networks that can identify, respond, and adapt to security threats. It also shows security vendors are serious about banding together to offer enterprises more choices to help fortify and protect their systems.

"This is one of the primary pieces to the puzzle for reaching the goal of a smarter, more resilient network," said Russell Rice, director of marketing for Cisco's Security Technology Group. "This shows that there's an understanding in the industry that no one company can provide everything necessary for full security. Customers have made it clear that there is no clear winner. They've complained that there are too many seams they're responsible for and that they want us to work together to solve our problems."

On its Web site, Cisco describes NAC as an industry initiative that "uses the network infrastructure to enforce security policy compliance on all devices seeking to access network computing resources, thereby limiting damage from viruses and worms."

Using NAC, Cisco said organizations can provide network access to endpoint devices such as PCs, PDAs and servers verified as fully compliant with established security policy. NAC can also identify noncompliant devices and deny them access, place them in a quarantined area, or give them restricted access to computing resources.

NAC is part of Cisco's Self-Defending Network, an initiative to "increase network intelligence in order to enable the network to automatically identify, prevent and adapt to security threats," according to the Web site.

Nearly two dozen firms have joined the effort since Cisco opened a broader NAC vendor integration program last month. A full list of vendors who have signed on are listed here.

Sanjay Uppal, vice president of marketing and customer service for Petaluma, Calif.-based Caymas Systems, said his company's decision to join the effort was a no-brainer. "Our identity-driven access gateways restrict where users can and can't go and it's very complimentary with what Cisco is doing," he said. "Enterprises are concerned about complying with such laws as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley. This is something that will help them."

Another firm to join the effort is Austin-based WholeSecurity. "In the last year, companies have faced more malicious code attacks than ever before. By working with Cisco, WholeSecurity can help enable our joint customers to implement the advanced protection required to weather these attacks and ensure a high level of security on vulnerable endpoint PCs," Peter J. Selda, the company's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

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