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Allwyn Sequeira, Bluelane's SVP drilled

Nice interview this, I will be meeting Allwyn and Greg Ness (VP) in October here in Holland.


1) Blue Lane has two distinct product lines, VirtualShield and PatchPoint. The former is a software-based solution which provides protection for VMware Infrastructure 3 virtual servers as an ESX VM plug-in whilst the latter offers a network appliance-based solution for physical servers. How are these products different than either virtual switch IPS' like Virtual Iron or in-line network-based IPS's?

IPS technologies have been charged with the incredible mission of trying to protect everything from anything. Overall they've done well, considering how much the perimeter of the network has changed and how sophisticated hackers have become. Much of their core technology, however, was relevant and useful when hackers could be easily identified by their signatures. As many have proclaimed, those days are coming to an end.

A defense department official recently quipped, "If you offer the same protection for your toothbrushes and your diamonds you are bound to lose fewer toothbrushes and more diamonds." We think that data center security similarly demands specialized solutions. The concept of an enterprise network has become so ambiguous when it comes to endpoints and devices and supply chain partners, etc. we think its time to think more realistically in terms of trusted, yet highly available zones within the data center.

It seems clear at this point that different parts of the network need very different security capabilities. Servers, for example need highly accurate solutions that do not block or impede good traffic and can correct bad traffic, especially when it comes to closing network-facing vulnerability windows. They need to maintain availability with minimal latency for starters; and that has been a sort of Achilles heel for signature-based approaches. Of course, signatures also bring considerable management burdens over and beyond their security capabilities.

No one is advocating turning off the IPS, but rather approaching servers with more specialized capabilities. We started focusing on servers years ago and established very sophisticated application and protocol intelligence, which has allowed us to correct traffic inline without the noise, suspense and delay that general purpose network security appliance users have come to expect.

IPS solutions depend on deep packet inspection typically at the perimeter based on regexp pattern matching for exploits. Emerging challenges with this approach have made alert and block modes absolutely necessary as most IPS solutions aren't accurate enough to be trusted in full library block.

Blue Lane uses a vastly different approach. We call it deep flow inspection/correction for known server vulnerabilities based on stateful decoding up to layer 7. We can alert, block and correct, but most of are deployments are in correct mode, with our full capabilities enabled. From an operational standpoint we have substantially different impacts.

A typical IPS may have 10K signatures while experts recommend turning on just a few hundred. That kind of marketing shell game (find out what really works) means that there will be plenty of false alarms, false positives and negatives and plenty of tuning. With polymorphic attacks signature libraries can increase exponentially while not delivering meaningful improvements in protection.

Blue Lane supports about 1000 inline security patches across dozens of very specific server vulnerabilities, applications and operating systems. We generate very few false alarms and minimal latency. We don't require ANY tuning. Our customers run our solution in automated, correct mode.

The traditional static signature IPS category has evolved into an ASIC war between some very capable players for the reasons we just discussed.Exploding variations of exploits and vectors means that exploit-centric approaches will require more processing power.

Virtualization is pulling the data center into an entirely different direction, driven by commodity processors. So of course our VirtualShield solution was a much cleaner setup with a hypervisor; we can plug into the hypervisor layer and run on top of existing hardware, again with minimal latency and footprint.

You don't have to be a Metasploit genius to evade IPS signatures. Our higher layer 7 stateful decoding is much more resilient.

2) With zero-days on the rise, pay-for-play vulnerability research and now Zero-Bay (WabiSabiLabi) vulnerability auctions and the like, do you see an uptake in customer demand for vulnerability shielding solutions?

Exploit-signature technologies are meaningless in the face of evanescent, polymorphic threats, resulting in 0-day exploits. Slight modifications to signatures can bypass IPSes, even against known vulnerabilities. Blue Lane technology provides 0-day protection for any variant of an exploit against known vulnerabilities. No technology can provide ultimate protection against 0-day exploits based on 0-day vulnerabilities. However, this requires a different class of hacker.


Check out the whole interview!

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