Qualys launches open source firewall project

Qualys opens up on a web application firewall project, admitting it is taking a risk with competitors.


Qualys has announced an open source project to design a superior web application firewall.

Codenamed IronBee, the initiative will see security professionals share ideas under the Apache Software Licence v2.

Qualys was inspired to start the project due to the rise in the use of web apps and the emergence of cloud computing, which together have opened up businesses to even more threats.

"No single company alone can fight the sophistication of attacks we are now facing," said Philippe Courtot, chairman and chief executive (CEO) of Qualys.

Akamai Technologies has already signed up, but there was no word on what products either company would commercialise at the end of the project.

Ivan Ristic, director of engineering at Qualys, told IT PRO the end goal is to produce an exceptional product that the company can take to market and he was not concerned about sharing code with competitors.

"There is certainly a risk for us for someone else to use the code and create a rival product, but we are willing to take that risk," Ristic said.

"A large part of this project is going to be information sharing on threats, on what the bad guys are doing, etc."

Although he could not give any precise figure, Ristic said Qualys has poured a significant amount of investment into IronBee, with three people working full time on the project and another threat researcher set to join soon.

By making IronBee open source, businesses will also benefit as any product coming out of the initiative would not lock firms in with the vendor, Ristic said.

Qualys hopes to have whatever comes out of the project in production by the third or fourth quarter of this year, Ristic said, pointing out "you have to make your money somewhere."

"Open source doesn't have anything to do with business," he added.

Elsewhere, Qualys has been busy at the RSA Conference USA 2011, where the firm again indicated it is running a noticeably open operation.

For instance, the firm announced QualysGuard Vulnerability Management can now integrate with Trend Micro Threat Intelligence and Trend Micro Deep Security.

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