Axent Increases Flexibility of Security Products

Yes, firewalls are essential to Internet and extranet strategies, but constantly changing user needs can make firewalls outright hurdles. Axent Technologies Inc. ( released new versions of its Raptor Firewall and PowerVPN software that offer the flexibility to accommodate emerging data types as the Internet and networking evolve.

Raptor Firewall and PowerVPN are both part of Axent’s integrated network security solutions. Designed to work individually or with other Axent products, they offer similar interfaces and intercompatibility. Version 6.5 of the Raptor Firewall is designed to be more flexible for user needs and to evolve with Internet technology.

Firewalls use an application proxy to protect a network by restricting the kinds of data permitted to pass through the firewall. This works fine as long as the firewall is set to accommodate all the file types users need.

Applications such as videoconferencing and Internet telephony, however, use quickly changing proprietary data types that may not be permitted by a stock installation of a firewall. The new Raptor Firewall includes features that help administrators identify new data types, and allow them to be transferred through the firewall. Unsupported data types employed by users can now be accommodated by Raptor.

While applications cannot be accessed directly through the firewall, the application proxy is designed to behave transparently; that is, the system behaves as if the user directly accessed the application. The new release boasts higher speeds, allowing transparent operation at the rates allowed by DSL and cable modems. "Internet performance is critical in today’s firewall market, and Raptor’s improved performance makes the firewall invisible," says Eve Hofert, product marketing manger for Raptor at Axent.

PowerVPN, Axent's virtual private networking (VPN) software gives users external access to a network as if they were logged on internally. In addition, permissions can be set for specified users outside an organization to access certain types of data.

PowerVPN, like other VPNs, offers an alternative to dial-ups and dedicated phone lines used by those in the field or branch offices to access a central network. The VPN product allows a user to log on to a network directly through the Internet.

But when external machines gain access to the innards of a network, security becomes a priority. PowerVPN uses a number of tests to authenticate a user’s identity, then it encrypts the information as it travels over the Internet.

In addition to the authentication and encryption features, PowerVPN also offers a firewall for each user machine. This prevents users from launching SynFlood or Denial of Service attacks and keeps outside users from recruiting the machine as a relay for their own attacks. "Most network attacks originate inside the network. Our personal firewall prevents authorized users from making attacks," Cioe says.