IPS: Top Layer Security
IPS: Top Layer Security

If you thought the UTM market was crowded, take a look at the intrusion prevention systems (IPS) market. We bluntly asked our innovator in this product space why they thought that they were innovators in such a commoditized market. The answer was immediate and unambiguous: “When a product category becomes mainstream, there are big opportunities, but you must innovate to take advantage of them.”

That, of course, led to the second question: “Why is IPS not dead given the trend toward UTMs?” The answer, according to Top Layer experts, is that enterprise security will begin to converge. It will require an integrated defense structure that includes UTM, reputation classification, prefiltering of network traffic, firewalls and anti-DDoS capabilities. And, all of this needs to be in high performance, high availability appliances, of course.

But there still is a need for individual devices that together become the security defense architecture. For example, Top Layer believes that content inspection, leakage prevention and other anti-malware functionality belongs in a separate device. Their core expertise lies in building high performance network security devices, and this innovator believes that addressing the network components is necessary. They also believe that the future lies in reputation-based analysis.

The IPS, according to Top Layer, provides traffic filtering, anti-DDoS and pre-filtering. This helps leverage other security components in the infrastructure. Where they do not have all of the pieces, they reach out to a security ecosystem to build out additional components that they have not developed for themselves.

The challenges today include botnets, spam and the number one concern: data leakage. For Top Layer, staying on top of the huge number of software vulnerabilities still being discovered or disclosed is an important challenge, as well.

“As the internet continues to grow, the vulnerabilities are not likely to slow down,” Top Layer's visionary told me. “However, IPv6 will require new emphasis on pre-filtering.”

It is this innovative thinking that forces a spot in the security market for a product in a group whose fate pundits seem predisposed to debate.