Einstein systems to inspect US government Internet traffic

The largest U.S. carriers -- including AT&T, Qwest and Sprint -- are deploying special-purpose, intrusion-detection systems dubbed Einstein boxes in their networks as part of an 18-month-old effort to tighten security on federal networks.

Developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Einstein software provides real-time monitoring and analysis of Internet traffic flowing in and out of federal agency networks. Einstein is an early warning system designed to detect worms and other malicious code entering federal networks. is under development by the .  

Carriers are deploying Einstein systems as part of the federal , which aims to reduce the number of Internet access points operated by federal agencies and to protect the remaining Internet access points with a standard suite of managed security services.

Only U.S. federal government Internet traffic -- not commercial or personal Internet traffic -- will pass through the Einstein systems for inspection, carriers say.

The U.S. General Services Administration has awarded contracts to three carriers that involve deploying Einstein systems. In April, GSA awarded contracts to and to provide what it calls Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services, (MTIPS). AT&T won a similar last December. 

Verizon Business and Level 3 Communications say they expect to receive MTIPS contracts from GSA soon. GSA is awarding the MTIPS contracts through its massive program, a 10-year, US$20 billion federal telecom deal held by these carriers.