Blue Coat today has announced PacketShaper 9, a new software operating system release for Blue Coat PacketShaper appliances. The update introduces the industry's first application- and content-level visibility and control for IPv6 "shadow networks."

The reason they are called that is because cybercriminals are beginning to use IPv6 connections as a back-door conduit for penetrating corporate networks and providing communication links to already embedded malware and computers secretly enlisted into botnets. Many end-user devices, including standard Windows and Mac computers, have IPv6 addresses, and corporations may not be monitoring these protocol streams. That is where the new PacketShaper comes into play.

The network appliance has the ability to recognize more than 700 different applications protocols, so that IT managers can block Facebook IMs, for example, but allow end-users to read any Facebook posts. The update is also 10 times faster in user response time, and throughput time has also increased: Enterprise data center-to-data center deployments can now achieve performance of up to 8 Gbps, and enterprise WAN core and Internet gateway deployments can see 3.5 to 5 Gbps aggregate throughput. The basic appliance starts at $2,500.

N.B. Several years ago, I was paid by the company and did a brief screencast video for Blue Coat showing how PacketShaper works. You can watch it here.