Maximising network security without sacrificing connectivity - and vice versa - is the goal of CheckPoint's new range of FireWall-1 software, and resellers are playing a vital part in its implementation.
"One of the main reasons we've reached the large installed base that we have [40 per cent of the international firewall market, according to IDC] is because we prefer to work through resellers," said CheckPoint vice-president and co-founder Marius Nacht. "Resellers' and distributors' expertise in installation and customisation positions our products in their best possible light."
In Sydney to discuss the Israel-based manufacturer's products and strategies, Nacht focused on what he termed CheckPoint's "ability to provide fully-secure, bi-directional communications for all Internet applications and services". As an example of the Com Tech-distributed company's ability to tie together corporate intranets, remote networks and nomadic users, Nacht points to FireWall-1 SecuRemote software, which he says enables users with Windows 95-based systems to transfer electronic mail and sensitive corporate data - internal memos, financial data, etc - through dial-up connections as "safely and securely as they would behind [a] corporate Internet firewall".
In the past, much of CheckPoint's business has been centred on Internet applications, but Nacht says "the intranet market is becoming a much bigger and more interesting market than the Internet". In either environment, though, security is crucial. "Our products are for smart users who know the value of security," he said.
In any discussion of network security the discussion invariably turns to the bad guys: hackers. "No-one really knows the extent of commercial espionage, to say nothing of those hackers who simply hack for 'fun'." Make no mistake, Nacht says, "there are hackers on the payroll [of unethical companies]. You can make a lot of money from it."
As an example of the voraciousness of some hackers, Nacht told how CheckPoint was hacked within four hours of setting up its Web site. "Oddly enough, it was actually a 'friendly' company - a supplier of ours - that was hacking us," he said. "We called them up and said 'What are you doing?' and they denied everything . . . The police were involved and it was quite serious. Then it was discovered that two teenagers had hacked on to their system, and were using that as a starting point to hack on to our network via our Web site."
And it's easy. "Hackers use very standard tools - things you can get off the Net," Nacht said. "They don't need to know anything about Unix. Hacker newsgroups tell them all they need to know and, suddenly, they're 'super-users'."
On the home front
Nacht says the Australian network security market is just beginning to grow. "I think in the next 12 months you'll see a tremendous increase in the number of sites installing [network security software such as CheckPoint's]." Com Tech technical director Nathan Cher confirms his company has installed FireWall-1 software at "between 30 and 40 sites" in Australia and is expecting significant growth in the coming months.
In informal conversation following Nacht's presentation Cher told ARN FireWall-1 is analogous to a sort of hyperintelligent burglar alarm. "But a regular burglar alarm would simply go off and you wouldn't really know what happened, other than that someone had tried to break in. FireWall-1 tells you the full story. It says this person came up to this window at this point in time, and tried to break in."
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