Latest GTE Idea Ain't the Real Thing

Latest GTE Idea Ain't the Real Thing

Wesley Jordan

By Nick Wakeman, Staff Writer

GTE Federal Network Systems is counting on a little deception to strengthen its position as a provider of security solutions to the federal government.

The Arlington, Va.-based unit of GTE Corp. has added an offering called NetFacade to its set of security solutions designed to trick hackers into thinking they are attacking real networks, when in reality they are attacking a simulation of a network.

"If they use subversion, you have to use subversion," said Wesley Jordan, vice president of GTE Federal Network Systems.

The concept is known as a "honey pot," because it draws hackers away from the real networks. "This is a high-fidelity simulation," Jordan said.

The GTE unit contributed just more than $70 million to Irving, Texas-based GTE's $25.3 billion in 1999 revenue. The federal unit has 300 people and provides a variety of networking services that include Web hosting, security and engineering support.

NetFacade is another layer of security that works in conjunction with firewalls and intrusion detection devices. The product monitors both external attacks and internal activities.

"We are not talking about the random ping, but the guy that comes in where he's not supposed to be and stays there," Jordan said.

The GTE unit intends to add the NetFacade offering to several major contracts on which the company is bidding, Jordan said.

"Security is part and parcel of network services now," he said.

The unit is part of a team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., that is bidding on a $1.8 billion contract to modernize the command and control systems for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo. Lockheed Martin and TRW Inc. of Cleveland are in a "fly-off" competition, which should be decided by July.

GTE also is on a team led by Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., that is chasing the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, a $10 billion contract to provide networking and desktop services to 400,000 military users.

A third major deal GTE is pursuing is the Federal Aviation Administration's Telecommunications Infrastructure contract, a $1.9 billion pact to build an integrated telecommunications system. GTE is part of a team being led by Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla.

"We provide network services for large, complex, mission-critical networks," Jordan said. "And network security is a bigger and bigger concern."

A product like NetFacade should find a quick home in the government market, analysts said.

"It is a high-end product," said John Pescatore, research director for network security at the market research company GartnerGroup of Stamford, Conn. "It fits well with organizations that place a high emphasis on security, and that is the government."

One competitor, Recourse Technologies Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., has a similar product, but it does not "have the size or reach of GTE," he said.

The GTE unit already has a strong base in the government, particularly in Defense Department agencies, Pescatore said.

Because GTE now has a product that is drawing increasing attention, other companies are likely to follow, said Lance Travis, an analyst with AMR Research in Boston. "It is a very nice feature to have," he said.

Jordan said in addition to pursuing new contracts, the GTE unit wants to use existing vehicles as well in signing on new partners among government systems integrators who can take the product to market.

NetFacade will not stop completely attacks on networks, Jordan said, but it is a good complement to firewalls and intrusion detection devices.

Because firewalls and intrusion detection devices are designed to stop known hacker attack patterns, they need to be updated constantly as new attacks occur, Jordan said.

NetFacade, while serving as a diversion, also collects data on the hacker, such as what attack patterns he is using and where in the network he is trying to strike, Jordan said. This data then can be used to fine-tune a network's firewalls and intrusion detection devices.

"It is a way to measure how well your network security is working and what is getting through your firewalls," he said.

The product also can help identify weaknesses in security policies and areas where more training is needed, Jordan said.

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