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Leaky Nuke Lab Is Poor Endorsement For A Security Product

A new startup has licensed technology from Los Alamos National Laboratory to help enterprises respond to security incidents. But does the company really want to be associated with a lab that routinely mishandles nuclear weapons secrets?
Founded in July 2007, Packet Analytics launched Net/FSE this Tuesday. Net/FSE is Linux-based software that performs real-time forensic analysis of NetFlow router data. NetFlow is a Cisco router protocol that provides key pieces of information about network traffic sessions.

The company claims its software can churn through terabytes of NetFlow sessions and other security-related information, including firewall logs and IDS events. The goal is to help IT security teams better respond to anomalous network behavior and security incidents by helping them understand which hosts are involved in an alert, how long the activity has been going on, and where it originated.

Packet Analytics makes a big deal of its association with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The technology behind Net/FSE has been used for five years on LANL networks. LANL is tasked by the Department of Energy with maintaining the security and reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons, and its networks are a regular target of intrusion and espionage attempts.

The startup is hoping the association provides a measure of credibility that other startups have to earn over several product cycles and through customer trials.

Unfortunately, LANL has suffered a string of embarrassing security incidents in the past decade. For instance, employees sent top-secret nuclear weapons data through an unsecured e-mail network, the lab acknowledged in June 2007. In 2006, an employee whose spouse was involved in a meth lab bust was found to have sensitive nuclear secrets in her home. A list of security breaches at Los Alamos and other DOE facilities is available here.

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