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Microsoft's NAP Hits the Century Mark with Partners

Microsoft has signed up more than 100 partners who say they will support its Network Access Protection, or NAP, technology for protecting the network from edge devices such as roaming laptops through quarantine and remediation, the company said Thursday.

The announcement comes on the eve of next week's RSA Conference in San Francisco, where Microsoft and 40 or so of its partners plan to demonstrate momentum around NAP.

"This is an important milestone in industry acceptance of NAP," said Mike Schutz, group product manager in Microsoft's edge and security organization. Among the vendors demonstrating at RSA, Schutz said to expect to see the major antivirus showing interoperability with NAP and hardware and switch vendors showing NAP "authentication at the switch."

NAP support ships in Windows Vista and will ship in Windows Server "Longhorn" later this year.

NAP is designed to provide components and an application programming interface that help administrators enforce compliance with health policies for network access or communications. Using NAP, third-party developers and administrators can build solutions for validating computers that connect to their networks, provide needed updates or access to needed resources, and limit the access of noncompliant computers.

With NAP in place, when a user tries to connect to the network, that computer's health state is validated against the health policies defined by the administrator. Depending on the results, the computer can be granted access, denied, or given only limited access until required configuration changes are made.

For instance, to gain access, a remote client device can be verified to that a firewall is enabled , antivirus and antispyware software is enabled and up-to-date, that Automatic Updates is enabled and the software has all the latest security updates.

Among the more than 100 partners on that Microsoft has signed up to support NAP are Alcatel, Altiris, Broadcom, CA, Cisco, Citrix, eEye Digital Security, Enterasys, F-Secure, ISS, Juniper Networks, LANdesk, McAfee, Nortel, RSA Security, Samsung, Siemens, Sophos, Symantec, Trend Micro, VeriSign, and Websense.

Microsoft and Cisco demonstrated in September a single client agent providing interoperability between NAP and the networking behemoth's Network Admission Control (NAC) protocols.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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