US firm to offer network security checks

Secure Computing is setting up a service for companies in Australia and New Zealand to have their network security weaknesses assessed. Secure's distributor says the model has been tested in the US, where Secure Computing engineers help sites determine their network security weaknesses, establish the types of procedures which will heighten security, recommend security products and develop a site's security policy.

Secure Computing is setting up a service for companies in Australia and New Zealand to have their network security weaknesses assessed.

Extranet Technologies managing director Mike Kennedy, whose company distributes Secure Computing products in New Zealand, says the model has been tested in the US, where Secure Computing engineers help sites determine their network security weaknesses, establish the types of procedures which will heighten security, recommend security products and develop a site's security policy.

Kennedy says the people who make the assessments are the same people who design the firewalls and security systems. He says a division is being set up in Australia and New Zealand companies will be able to call on it by the end of this year.

Secure Computing product marketing manager Andrew Stevens, in New Zealand recently, says a recent survey by CSI (Computer Security Institute) and the FBI found that of 520 corporations and government agencies which considered themselves to have good security, 64% had had breaches of their network in 1997. That represented an increase of 36% over the year before, he says.

Stevens says it's much easier now for hackers to share information via the Internet.

Kennedy says attitudes to security are changing as companies are becoming involved with e-commerce on the Internet. "They're putting their cash register on the Internet and they have to protect that."

However, he says there are some who still don't understand and haven't addressed security issues. "Do we buy a new BMW this year or do we install a firewall?"

IT security is more than just a firewall, Stevens says. It involves many network-related components such as hubs and routers, he says.

There are also two threats to network security — from internal sources and external sources. In the CSI/FBI survey, about half of the breaches came from internal sources. Stevens says they tend to be the less vicious breaches.

"It's mainly people seeing if they can get into the payroll system and things like that, whereas the 50% coming externally are malicious in intent."

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