Carrier Provider AT&T Rides Network Security Wave of Future

Companies are acting not just as pipelines for information, but are beginning to check security and 'cleanliness' of info coming through their pipelines

Amoroso calls AT&T's in-the-cloud security services a strategic opportunity, not to be mistaken with the managed-security-services business it gained as part of an acquisition about a decade ago. That unit manages security technologies, such as firewalls and intrusion-detection systems, that watch the borders of some 2,000 customer networks.

"The edge is not the optimal place to do (network) security. You get overwhelmed too easily and you miss a lot," Amoroso argues. It's better - and cheaper - he says, to filter attack traffic before it reaches the customer's network.

He thinks that, with carriers filtering attacks from outside, such as denial-of-service, spam, virus and network worm attacks - which Pescatore says now account for a staggering 30% of all Internet traffic - corporations might ultimately be willing to give up their own efforts to stop them.

"It's an unbelievable opportunity to save money," Amoroso says, because the service provider will put this same technology in place and charge enterprises much less money. He says one day AT&T might even give it away free.

If that sounds like a threat to many of today's successful network security companies, Amoroso would agree.

"We think, in the network, we're going to fundamentally change the game. It's going to take time but not much," he says.

Although Amoroso thinks the service is for everyone, Pescatore thinks telecom companies will have the best success with small- and medium-sized businesses, and maybe consumers down the road. But he thinks IT services firms and specialized security-services providers will still find customers in large corporations.

"A lot of people are willing to say: If it's cheaper and it's ready, I don't need to see the lights blinking," Pescatore says. "The market's ready for it."