3Com last week announced a new firmware add-on for its network interface cards that could be used to lock down servers and PCs to prevent hacks from outside or inside a company.
The network firm says the new network interface cards (NICs) let network professionals secure networked PCs and servers by controlling exactly what can be done from a client PC, or who can access certain servers. 3Com says the NICs can boost the speed of nodes that send encrypted data by off-loading encryption algorithms and other packet processing tasks from a PC's processor to the NIC.
A firewall enhancement will also be available on 3Com's 3CR990 10/100Mbps NIC with the on-board 3X reduced instruction set chip processor. The firewall technology will reside on the NICs as firmware. 3Com developed it with security software firm Secure Computing.
As companies open their corporate firewalls to share resources with online business partners and extranet customers, securing resources inside the firewall becomes critical, according to John Harrison, product line manager for 3Com. Additionally, businesses must deal with the threat of network resource abuse by internal employees.
"There's a lot of contractors, temporary employees or even malicious insiders who can reek havoc on a corporate network," Harrison says.
In a 2000 survey of 643 US organisations conducted by the Computer Security Institute (CSI) in San Francisco and the FBI, more than 70 per cent of the companies said they had at least one incident of unauthorised network use by someone inside their networks. The CSI/FBI survey found that external hacking occurred in only 30 per cent of the companies and that the average monetary damage done by external hackers cost companies an average of $US25,000, as opposed to the average cost of $1.8 million for internal system attacks.