FaceTime Application Detection Raises Stakes in Network Security

Offers patented technology to identify and control 1,400 real-time and Web 2.0 applications and 50,000 social networking apps

December 9, 2008

5 Min Read


BELMONT, Calif., Dec. 8, 2008 - FaceTime Communications, the leading provider of solutions that manage Web 2.0 and unified communications in the enterprise today announced its patented application inspection and classification technology is now available for license to network equipment manufacturers who are interested in offering more application awareness in their products. Dubbed ACE, for Application Control Engine, the perimeter-based application filter identifies and categorizes more than 1,400 Web 2.0 applications and more than 50,000 additional application "widgets" distributed via social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Orkut. Backed by FaceTime Security Labs' exclusive application analysis and categorization, ACE automatically updates its database to stay current with new application detections.

At its core, ACE is the technology that sets FaceTime's award-winning Unified Security Gateway appliance apart from all other network security appliances. The USG enables enterprises to control real-time communications integrating management, security and compliance of Web communications, consumer-driven applications such as public IM, Skype and P2P and enterprise-class Unified Communications suites such as Microsoft's Office Communications Server and IBM Lotus Sametime.

"The widespread adoption of email was a key driver for the anti-virus scanning industry, and the Web browser led to a standard requirement for URL filtering databases," said Frank Cabri, vice president of marketing for FaceTime Communications. "In the same way, the current explosion of real-time and Web 2.0 applications is prompting a need for application filtering to examine, classify and control the evasive applications that are running over corporate networks today."

"The competitive landscape in markets such as UTM and network firewalls has escalated with increasing pressure from customers who require deep inspection of the application traffic entering the enterprise at the network perimeter," said Brian Burke, program director for IDC's Network Security Service. "To remain competitive, incumbent vendors must provide this comprehensive application visibility and control - and partnering will provide the fastest and most efficient path."

Market Requirements for Application Filtering As revealed in the research report The Collaborative Internet: Usage Trends, End User Attitudes and IT Impact commissioned by FaceTime and based on an independent study by NewDiligence, 62 percent of IT respondents reported eight or more Internet applications installed on their enterprise networks - representing a 300 percent increase over the first study conducted in 2005. Further, they noted that about one-third of end users continue to download the applications they want to use on their desktops, regardless of company policy - and these applications are used about equally for business and personal reasons.

While many Web-based applications can be identified and blocked by a URL signature, newer Internet applications are typically not browser-based and therefore require specialized handling to effectively identify and classify their true nature. Identifying these applications presents a new challenge for enterprise IT. As more and more applications masquerade themselves as HTTP, FTP, SMTP and Telnet traffic, while exhibiting evasive techniques, it becomes increasingly difficult for Unified Threat Management (UTM), Firewall, Secure Web Gateway (SWG) and IPS solutions that rely on simple signature matching techniques to accurately identify, and therefore control them.

Application control is identified as one of the six key evaluation criteria for the September 2008 Gartner report Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateway. In the report, analysts Peter Firstbrook and Lawrence Orans conclude that "application control is the most immature SWG feature. IM, Skype and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications are the most commonly supported; however, few SWG solutions can do more than block or allow access on a group or user level. Even fewer use application network signatures versus more-easily evaded URL or Internet Protocol (IP) address blocking."

Likewise, application identification is one of four key areas noted as recommended components of the Next Generation Firewall, by Gartner analysts Greg Young and John Pescatore in their November 2008 report Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls. The report proclaims that "simply enforcing proper protocol use on standard ports is no longer of sufficient value in this environment. If firewall vendors do not make these changes, enterprises will demand price concessions to reduce firewall costs substantially."

About ACE The Application Control Engine(tm) (ACE(tm)) enables security and network solution providers to embed application filtering technology to accurately identify and manage real-time applications on the network. ACE employs patented technology to enable high-performance detection and categorization of more than 1,400 distinct applications - regardless of port, protocol, or evasive technique used to traverse the network. Based on the same technology integral to FaceTime's Unified Security Gateway, the ACE software developers kit (SDK) allows solution providers to easily extend their offerings to help customers manage instant messaging, peer-to-peer file sharing, social networking, Web 2.0, voice-over-IP, anonymizers, IPTV, multimedia, games, virtual worlds, and unified communications.

FaceTime's U.S. patent for classifying and identifying network traffic flows forms the technology foundation for ACE. Available only from FaceTime, this technology provides unparalleled accuracy and application coverage through active monitoring and dynamic correlation of network, content, traffic and other session characteristics. ACE creates a profile of both the specific application in use along with the unique feature being executed (e.g. a file attachment sent via instant messaging) allowing ACE Program Partners to deliver granular policy and control over real-time applications within their products.

Purpose built for today's applications, the engine includes built-in support for daily auto-updates of new applications provided by FaceTime Security Labs. These updates occur through the ongoing collection, analysis and categorization of application information from hundreds of thousands of end-points deployed throughout the world both in enterprise networks and on consumer PCs. This data is analyzed and confirmed by FaceTime Security Labs' researchers to insure that its application database is current.

About FaceTime Communications FaceTime Communications enables the safe and productive use of instant messaging, Web usage and Unified Communications platforms. Ranked number one by IDC for four consecutive years, FaceTime's award-winning solutions are used by more than 1,000 customers for security, management and compliance of real-time communications. FaceTime supports or has strategic partnerships with all leading public and enterprise IM network providers, including AOL, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Skype, IBM and Jabber.

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