HP, F5 Networks Expand Web, Mobile Security Offerings

By Jeffrey Burt

Hewlett-Packard and F5 Networks are bulking up their security capabilities for Web, mobile and BYOD environments.

HP, as part of a series of security-related announcements Sept. 17, launched its TippingPoint next-generation firewall (NGFW), which is designed to offer high-performance network security with granular application visibility and control over mobile and Web apps. At the same time, F5 officials announced that the company had bought Versafe, which they said will bring greater Web and mobile protection capabilities to F5's portfolio.

The moves come at a time when more communications and transactions are being done online and via mobile devices, and corporations continue to wrestle with the management and security headaches brought on by the growth of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. It also brings HP and F5 deeper into an increasingly competitive NGFW market that includes the likes of Palo Alto Networks, Cisco Systems, Check Point and Intel's McAfee security business.

"It's a given that corporate data and access to applications need to be protected when delivered to locations outside corporate control," Lori MacVittie, a blogger on F5's DevCentral blog, wrote in a post Sept. 17. "Personal devices, home networks, and cloud storage all introduce the risk of information loss through a variety of attack vectors.

"But that's not all that poses a risk. Mobility of customers, too, is a source of potential disaster waiting to happen as control over behavior as well as technology is completely lost. Industries based on consumers and using technology to facilitate business transactions are particularly at risk from consumer mobility and, more importantly, from the attackers that target them," MacVittie said.

HP officials pointed to numbers for the Poneman Institute to illustrate the need for businesses to have greater granular application-level controls and intrusion-prevention capabilities. Ninety-two percent of Forbes Global 2000 companies reported data breaches last year, and data theft technology is getting more sophisticated, with the global cyber-crime market pegged at $104 billion annually.

In addition, in BYOD environments, businesses no longer control the endpoint, which can be smartphones, tablets, laptops or other devices, heightening the need for greater visibility and control in the network, HP officials said.

There are five models within HP's NGFW lineup, spanning from the S1050F, which supports up to 250,000 concurrent connections, offers 500M-bps performance and is aimed at branch networks, to the S8010F, which supports up to 20 million concurrent connections, has 10G-bps performance, and is designed for data centers and core environments.

The NGFW was part of a larger series of security announcements made by HP officials at their HP Protect event in Washington, D.C.


For its part, F5's acquisition of Versafe gives the company greater Web and mobile protection capabilities. No financial details of the transaction were released.

"The acquisition supports F5's vision and commitment to provide our customers with secure access to data and applications from any location; from any device," Karl Triebes, F5's executive vice president of product development and chief technology officer, said in a statement. "Web applications are under increasing attack, which can lead to the theft of intellectual property, money, sensitive data and identity."

Versafe's technology will bolster F5's offerings in several areas, according to F5 officials. The company's Application Delivery Firewall solution will get new fraud, phishing and malware protection, while F5's Identity and Access Management product gets the ability to protect access credentials and keep them from being stolen by malware on the user's device. In addition, F5's Mobile Application and Device Management solution will be better able to protect business-to-consumer applications.

Versafe offered its products via a subscription, without asking the user to download any software or register their devices. The technology detects malware-borne fraud and other client-side online threats for mobile and Web apps, and can scale to meet the needs of enterprises and large Web-based transactional sites, according to F5 officials.

Versafe also offered an advanced remediation and advisory security service through its Security Operations Center, which can quickly identify new malware types and attack vectors, and addresses issues and incidents in real time.

The company's technologies dovetail with what F5 does with security, according to F5 blogger MacVittie.

"F5 views security as a holistic strategy that must be able to dig into not just the application and corporate network, but into the device and application, too, as well as the networks over which users access both mobile and Web applications," she wrote. "That's where Versafe comes in with its unique combination of client-side intelligent visibility and subscription-based security service."

The NGFW space is getting a lot of attention from vendors and businesses alike. Palo Alto Networks has built its business around developing the latest network security firewalls. Most recently, Cisco in July bought Sourcefire for $2.7 billion in a move designed to grow its network security capabilities, including NGFWs. In May, McAfee spent $389 million to buy NGFW vendor Stonesoft.


This article was originally published on 2013-09-17