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Cymphonix Tunes Security Management

New DC30s handle correlation of user, application activity; malware threats; and content filtering

Few security vendors start off by telling you what they aren't. But when you're trying to do as many things as Cymphonix Inc., the approach makes pretty good sense.

"We're not a firewall per se," says Joe Lowry, marketing engineer for the Sandy, Utah-based startup. "We don't handle VPN, DHCP, or NAT, but we do have some firewalling capabilities."

More precisely, the vendor's new DC30 platforms, which sit between the LAN and the firewall, do quality of service, network management, threat management, and content filtering. The Cymphonix box also melds gateway anti-spyware, gateway anti-virus, instant-messaging logging, and application prioritization. The company calls the functionality "event correlation," but it might be easier to think of Cymphonix as the poor man's Packeteer.

Lowry may not agree with the description, but he says his customers typically turn to Cymphonix when it's clear that the management suites built by vendors like Hewlett-Packard, CA, or Fluke are beyond their budgets. Cymphonix's most expensive box is $15,000, but the new DC30s range from $2,800 to $3,800 -- thresholds that make it easier to get purchase orders approved.

"Cymphonix is hard to pigeonhole -- which is not necessarily a bad thing, given that identity management and user identification tools are all in flux," says Chris Liebert, senior analyst of network security for the Yankee Group. She sees the DC30 as a perfect fit for small and medium-sized businesses that need to be able to pinpoint user activity, event management, and host access information. She also likes the platform's reporting functions and pricing. "That kind of visibility is pretty valuable to an SMB," Liebert tells Dark Reading. "They won't see those kinds of price points from any other vendor" with comparable functionality.

Video game developer Point of View Inc., based in Irvine, Calif., has been beta testing the DC30 for the last couple weeks, and will bang on it for about another month, according to network administrator Adrian Gallegos. He says the box is incredibly easy to set up, but confesses that some of the more advanced features aren't exactly a breeze to configure.

His base of 80 users works mostly on Apple Macintosh desktops, using FTP and secure FTP to access information or shove files around. The DC30 catches "most but not all" of the viruses and spyware that infect Point of View desktops. "We have a lot of programmers and they're pretty savvy about going around filters, but so far none of them have been able to get around" the DC30 using proxies or other methods to view forbidden sites, Gallegos says.

Cymphonix's Lowry says the appliance comes in two configurations. The DC30 platform will handle up to 5 Mbit/s of bandwidth and costs $2,795; the DC30X has dual-core processors and can handle up to 20 Mbit/s. Both models come with a 100-user license and can accommodate up to 5,000 unique users. The price also includes one year of updates and a one-year warranty, Cymphonix says.

Lowry says the units also have the ability to look at "unnamed traffic" -- anomalous packets for which there are no signature files -- such as a new piece of spyware that leverages a port for video over IP, for example. "It's something we call harmful app redirection," Lowry says.

Further, the DC30 can also aggregate reports, access multiple locations, and will eventually do more with intuitive policy decisions, Lowry says.

- Terry Sweeney, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading

Organizations mentioned in this story

  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)
  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)
  • Cymphonix Inc.
  • Fluke Networks
  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)
  • Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR)
  • Yankee Group Research Inc.
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