Whitcoulls opts for outsourced e-security

Whitcoulls has had no problems with viruses lately - it wasn't hit by the Naked Wife or other recent viruses.

Whitcoulls has had no problems with viruses lately — it wasn’t hit by the Naked Wife or other recent viruses.

The retailer has opted for an outsourced solution. Whitcoulls IS manager Thomas Dunser says his store chose Safecom a year ago after concerns about security, even though he says it had never been hacked.

Safecom is the offering from the Telecom-Microsoft-EDS alliance, e-solutions. Safecom technologies were developed over the late 1990s for internal use by Telecom’s LAN/WAN systems, but the telecommunications giant saw commercial potential.

Safecom has been sold under the e-solutions banner for 10 months and now claims between 40 and 45 customers, including the Blue Star Group, Whitcoulls, the Owens group and the NZ Health Intranet.

In Whitcoulls’ case, a third-party firm was used to audit and do a “friendly” attack and no problems were found with the Safecom set up, which offers internet connectivity, email scanning, secure hosting and secure dial-up.

Whitcoulls is just one of the many companies opting for an outsourced security solution.

Murray Goodman, assured communications portfolio manager for e-solutions, says outsourcing allows a higher level of security at a lower total cost of ownership.

“It doesn’t represent a capital investment. We buy the boxes and the company pays a monthly fee. Companies are not faced with the cost of upgrades and changes. The only increase in their price is if they use more services or gain more users.”

Dealing with one firm also makes it easier and cheaper for IT managers, as there is a single point of contact.

Goodman says the growing IT skill shortage is also fuelling the trend to outsource. IT staff are becoming too expensive to keep, so a skilled IT worker can be “shared”.

Safecom uses a virtual private network, creating secure gateways between internet, intranet and extranet functions and firewalls.

Owens Group systems administrator Jamie Till says his firm appointed e-solutions in November after concerns over viruses, spamming and web content. It uses services including VPN Mail relay and secure web browsing. The firm has had no hacking incidents and was “fine” during the Melissa event.

“There were teething problems, but everything is pretty good,” Till says.

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