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Startup Launches Tool That Analyzes & Maps Network Architecture for Risk

Athena Security goes public and shows off its new tool for determining the risks posed by network configurations

SAN FRANCISCO -- RSA 2008 Conference -- A security startup that's been operating for several months in stealth mode came out of the shadows here last week at the RSA conference to show off its new security mapping tool that assesses overall threat risk by scrutinizing the network architecture.

Athena Security, based in Lisle, Ill., gets back to the basics in assessing and managing the risk of attack from internal or external threats. Its new AthenaVerify tool basically checks the network architecture for architectural soundness, and compares it with best practices from NIST, SANS, NSA, Neohapsis, ISACA, and ITIL, and assesses how any change in the network affects the security posture of the network.

"We look at the basic network architecture," says Adarsh Arora, CEO of Athena Security. The key is mapping how the network is configured with best practices to determine what the risk really is.

Typically, there's really no way to know for sure how any change in network configuration actually raises or lowers your risk of an attack, says David Hurst, CTO of Athena Security. "Now you can see any change in behavior," he says.

AthenaVerify takes configuration information from network and security devices and provides an audit with scoring as well as modeling options for correcting or updating any configurations. "By evaluating our best practices, we can tell how compliant you are."

The Windows-based tool runs in network operation centers, where it can identify an intrusion, for example, and identify what else is exposed. "We can model that and predict how an intrusion would propagate and how to apply corrective actions," Hurst says. You can then run models of any changes and see how they impact your risk score, for example.

Athena Security expects the tool to provide a way to close the gap between network and security managers, and eventually plans to integrate it with network management consoles. It's currently integrated with SecurePassage's FireMon firewall management system.

Aside from ensuring that network architecture or device configurations aren't leaving an organization vulnerable to attack, the tool can also be used for compliance audit preparation, according to Athena. Pricing starts at around $15,000.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading