9/14/2010
01:33 PM
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Startup Demonstrates Its Own SSL Alternative

Federated Networks to ship secure infrastructure offerings in early 2011



A security startup will this week show publicly for the first time its proprietary replacement for SSL, as well as a cloud-based login application that helps block phishing attacks.

Federated Networks, which has operated in stealth mode for five years, was founded and is funded mainly by its CEO, Dave Lowenstein. The company plans to officially launch its end-to-end security infrastructure, called FN Connect Secure Architecture, later this year, with consumer products available in early 2011 and enterprise offerings in the spring of next year.

"We're trying to provide an entire shrink-wrapped stack" that enhances existing security, says Lowenstein, who notes that today's existing security products and models are flawed.

At DEMO Fall 2010, in Santa Clara, Calif., this week, the company will conduct a demonstration showing how the Royal Bank of Canada, ING Direct, Bank of Montreal, and CIBC can still be easily targeted by phishers hoping to steal consumers' credit card and other personal data -- even with tight security -- and how the startup's security software can help thwart these types of attacks.

And while Federated Networks is targeting organizations with ultra-sensitive data, such as financial services, government, and large enterprises, Lowenstein says pricing will be aggressive, at "a couple hundred dollars" for a credit union with 2,000 online users, for example. "We are looking to be not just disruptive with our solution, but also with our price," he says. "We tried to democratize it a bit."

Federated Networks' Application Security Layer (ASL) protocol protects against attacks SSL can be susceptible to, such as phishing and man-in-the-middle, he says. It relies on a client-side "browser helper" that replaces the network protocol and connects with a server also running ASL, he says.

The catch is that each end must be running ASL to realize the security protections, except for the anti-spyware piece, which doesn't require the server side. "We have zero-knowledge for data exchange, which powers the identity part of our solution," he says.

The startup also plans to offer a cloud-based secure login application. "If an in-band hacker or out-of-band hacker were to get your password ... if he typed in that password, he would not be able to log in," he says.

Among Federated Networks' other upcoming offerings is a cloud-computing security service for online applications including Gmail, Twitter, Salesforce.com, and server management. The company also has a Web application security product in the works that prevents attackers from exploiting existing vulnerabilities in an organization's Web apps, such as cross-site scripting and SQL injection.

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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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