Security start-up CloudPassage is offering two free services to protect cloud-based virtual servers by maintaining firewall policies and also checking for software vulnerabilities.Later this year the company will add advanced features to these services and charge for them as well as offer other paid services such as intrusion detection, but it is offering these initial services free to attract customers.Low-cost SSL proxy could bring cheaper, faster security; defeat threats like FiresheepThe services are designed for businesses that hire public cloud providers for infrastructure as a service and want to simplify security and vulnerability management.The company's services are based on a platform that monitors virtual servers even as they replicate. The platform consists of two components, Halo Daemon and Halo Grid. The first is an agent that runs on virtual servers and gathers information it passes along to Halo Grid, a cloud-based processing resource that crunches the data gathered by the daemons. It checks that servers meet configuration and policy settings as determined by customers and detects weaknesses.Customers access the services via a Web portal. Communication between the daemons and the grid are encrypted, but the company won't say exactly how because it has applied for patents on the technology.The free services offered by CloudPassage are Halo SVM server vulnerability management and Halo Firewall. Halo SVM checks that servers meet security policies and detects software vulnerabilities that leave servers open to new attacks if they go unpatched. Halo Firewall checks host-based firewall configurations and makes sure that as cloud-based servers replicate that policies follow them.The alternative would be manually checking these parameters, a complicated chore subject to error as virtual servers copy themselves within a cloud architecture. The platform also resolves IP addresses within public clouds as servers clone.Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.