Network Associates and Internet Security Systems have created an alliance to use each other's technologies and marketing power in what top executives from the two companies say is a three-year agreement with many details still being hammered out.
As outlined by Network Associates president George Samenuk and ISS president, chair and CEO Tom Noonan, ISS will share its intrusion-detection technology with Network Associates, while Network Associates shares its virus-protection capabilities with ISS.
The two security firms also each have a rapid-response team - ISS has X-Force, Network Associates has the AVERT Labs - to address new security threats as they arise, and they are expected to begin sharing analysis closely in the future. The alliance, intended to give each company access to technology it lacks, also promises a slew of new products that may be co-marketed in the future.
In a press conference to announce the deal, Noonan noted that some of the worst security incidents in the last year have been triggered by "blended threats". These are attacks that have downed computer systems and networks by combining virus infection, Trojan horses and automated hacking attacks to exploit vulnerabilities.
These threats - the Nimda and Code Red worms foremost to date - spurred the companies to begin a dialogue that has led to the new alliance.
"The hacker and virus-writer communities have converged to share their techniques, and ISS and Network Associates will work together on their own counter-measures for these threats," Noonan said. Combining efforts will allow both companies to provide "pervasive protection", he said.
The only other security firm with the same breadth of products as ISS and Network Associates combined is Symantec, a rival not mentioned by the two executives, but certainly a fierce competitor to both ISS and Network Associates.
By the first quarter of 2003, Network Associates will ship a new network intrusion-detection system built on Network Associates' Sniffer platform and using ISS technology, Samenuk said. In previous years, Network Associates had tried but failed to make much of a dent in the IDS market, and withdrew from this market about a year ago.
IDS so far has ended up as a market battle largely fought between ISS and Symantec, though a number of IDS vendors, including BindView and NFR Security, have found success in this arena as well. For its part, Network Associates has a huge installed base of Sniffer devices that are used for network troubleshooting and analysis, and earlier this year Network Associates promised it would add intrusion detection to them in some manner.