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7/20/2009
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Firewall for Virtual Machines Adds Speed and an IDS

Startup Altor Networks launches a new version of its VM firewall that's built for speed and includes an intrusion detection engine from Sourcefire.

Startup Altor Networks launches a new version of its VM firewall that's built for speed and includes an intrusion detection engine from Sourcefire.Altor Networks, an InformationWeek Startup 50 company has launched a new version of its software firewall for virtual machines.

Altor version 3 supports VMware's VMsafe API. With this support, the firewall can run as a module on a VMware hypervisor itself, rather than as a separate virtual machine. Running on the hypervisor improves firewall performance. According to CEO Amir Ben-Efraim, the firewall can support up to 10Gbits/sec of throughput.

The hypervisor passes all packets to Altor v3 ahead of a virtual switch so the firewall can enforce policy. The firewall supports multiple policies for each VM that runs on the physical server.

In addition, the company has integrated the Snort IDS engine and signatures from Sourcefire. The company opted to use the commercial version to get immediate access to new signatures from Sourcefire. At present the IDS is alert-only. The company plans to provide a blocking option later in the year.

Unlike the firewall, the IDS engine runs as a separate virtual machine, so the firewall has to pass packets up to the engine for inspection, which may affect performance. In addition, the company licenses the full signature set, so administrators may want to tune the IDS to weed out inappropriate signatures.

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