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2/9/2011
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UL Seal Of Approval Launched For Resiliency Of Networking, Security Products

Nonprofit lab will test how product specification claims withstand DDoS attacks, exploits, heavy traffic loads

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) this month plans to roll out its first-ever certification for the resiliency of networking, data-center, and security products in response to legislative pressures for technology firms to back up their product claims with independent laboratory testing and validation.

The new certification, UL 2825, requires UL testing for security and performance claims for servers, routers, firewalls, unified threat management (UTM) devices, intrusion prevention systems, and combined network-server equipment. Among other things, it will test the products under high traffic load scenarios and attacks via exploits to ensure they continue to perform as advertised, even under such adverse conditions.

A regulation in Texas that took effect on Dec. 1 basically holds vendors accountable for their product feature and function claims via independent certifications in any state government and university purchases of network hardware and software. "Any equipment that goes into the state government or universities -- Cisco, Juniper, and others -- has to be certified by an independent third party to be resilient according to the published specifications of the vendor," says Kyle Flaherty, director of marketing at BreakingPoint Systems, which is providing the product-testing equipment to UL. "If you had a 100-Mbps firewall, it has to be certified [as such]," he says.

Six other states are considering similar legislation, and the trend could catch on at the federal level as well, given renewed worries over targeted attacks such as the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks waged by the "Anonymous" group in support of WikiLeaks, experts say.

UL previously has evaluated and certified network and security products under its safety standards, and also certifies products for cryptography and data security. "This [new] service is the first framework of many to come from UL that will address the challenges and obstacles that customers encounter today with networking, interoperability, and security. UL 2825 addresses the peripheral networking equipment of a deployed infrastructure for their ability to perform as intended while being subjected to traffic of a malicious nature," says Ken Modeste, global principal engineer for life safety and security at UL. "UL sees this as extremely beneficial to both manufacturers and customers to independently determine products' resiliency."

The nonprofit labs will test the device against known security risks, such as DDoS, port scans, and exploits aimed at browsers and Web servers, using BreakingPoint Systems' Cyber Tomography Machines. The program will be officially up and running on Feb. 14, when vendors can begin submitting their products for testing. The process takes less than a week if the product meets all UL 2825 requirements.

But just how soon security and other IT product vendors will begin handing over their products to the UL for certification testing is unclear. "They are not going to want to do it, but if they want to sell to the state and federal government networks, they are going to have to do it," says Des Wilson, CEO at BreakingPoint. "Ultimately it will bleed into nonpublic networks as well."

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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