McAfee tests endpoint-checking tool; Check Point adds anti-spyware

* McAfee beta tests Policy Enforcer; Check Point adds anti-spyware feature to endpoint scanning software

With McAfee coming out this week with endpoint-checking software, the role of VPN software that does the same thing is being challenged.

McAfee is beta testing Policy Enforcer, software that scans computers trying to connect to a VPN to determine whether the computers meet corporate security policies, such as running updated anti-virus software or whether software patches are up to date.

Many VPN vendors offer this capability as part of their secure tunneling gear so the VPN tunnel doesn't become a conduit for malicious activity originating from an infected remote machine. Some vendors' software can divert a non-compliant machine to secure Web servers where their users can find out why they flunked and can even download whatever updates or patches their machine is missing.

To perform this function, endpoint security software needs to be able to scan for software made by other vendors. Some vendors can scan for more software than others, which creates a mesh of what endpoint checkers can scan for.

Also this week, Check Point is adding to its endpoint scanning software so that it can scan a remote machine for spyware and get rid of it. Rather than simply checking that security parameters are being met, the software is actually cleaning up the machine.

So what had been a tool to make sure computers connecting to VPNs were safe is morphing into a separate stand-alone product unrelated to the VPN.

Customers buying VPN gear may want to look for and purchase endpoint checkers that come packaged with the VPN. Or they may want to look at the capabilities of standalone endpoint checkers to see if they fit into a larger network security scheme. The overlap of the two may be unnecessary, but it may be desirable, so it should become part of the VPN evaluation process.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.