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Hosted Exchange
March/April 2001

Who's Watching Over Your Hosted Communications?

BY LAURA GUEVIN


When four altered copies of the much hyped but mostly harmless Anna Kournikova virus were sent to my Outlook Inbox recently, I started to think about security. The virus, a visual basic script (VBS) disguised as a .JPG image of the pretty young tennis player, e-mailed itself to everyone in the address books of the four unlucky people who had received the attachment themselves and attempted to open it. I mention receiving four altered copies of the virus because our Microsoft Exchange Server uses Network Associates' McAfee Groupshield for Exchange to filter out all .VBS and .EXE attachments, the two most common methods of transmitting viruses. What I actually received was a text file from the server informing me that it had filtered out the viral attachment AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs. The questionable attachment itself was sent to a quarantine folder for proper disposal by our MIS department.

This is a small example of the importance of network security and is focused on me, the end user, but is indicative of the pressing need for smart safety solutions as networks grow more extensive. A recent survey commissioned by the ASP Industry Consortium (www.allaboutasp.org) and performed by Zona Research revealed the number one concern of respondents considering a hosted application is security. And when you consider the amount of confidential information being sent from the customer premises to the service provider's network (and beyond) in many hosted scenarios, the need for all-inclusive security solutions becomes abundantly clear.

SECURITY SOLUTIONS: A MARKET OPPORTUNITY
As with virtually every other facet of the hosted space, a new breed of security solutions providers has emerged. I think it's important to make a distinction here, as the use of acronyms grows more and more pervasive in this space. I have heard the term MSP (managed service provider) used to describe the new breed of security solutions providers, those who install and maintain security software and hardware on a hosted basis. However, MSP may also stand for management service provider, as is the case with the MSP Association (www.mspassociation.org). They define management service providers as delivering information technology infrastructure management services to multiple customers over a network, on a subscription basis.

For the sake of this column, I'm going to refer to security solutions providers as just that, to avoid unnecessary confusion. And there is a huge crop of companies offering these types of solutions on a hosted basis, as well as companies that create security solutions tailored to the hosted application environment, which service providers and ASPs may install on their own. These are the two main types of solutions I've run into in this space.

Hosted Solutions Providers
Akaba (www.akabainc.com) offers a full suite of managed security services, from planning and implementation to management, from their Global Security Operations Center. DefendNet Solutions (www.defendnet.com) offers the SecureInternet managed security service, a firewall-based solution for outsourced administration, monitoring, and reporting. CyTek Corporation (www.cytekcorp.com) has created security policy development, network vulnerability assessments, firewall design and installation, intrusion detection services, and even security awareness training. Another notable company in this space is Telenisus Corporation (www.telenisus.com), which offers managed security, hosting, and VPN services.

Equipment/Software Providers
Aravox Technologies (www.aravox.com) offers the dynamic VoiceShield firewall for secure delivery of Voice over IP (VoIP). The company also offers the VoiceShield NAT (network address translation) facility to allow service providers to connect endpoints and control traffic routes among them. Check Point Software Technologies (www.checkpoint.com) provides a variety of firewall and security products from enterprise and Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions to the Provider-1 solution for managed service providers and large enterprises. Features include a three-tier, multi-policy security management architecture and multi-administrator distributed management.

Esecurity products from Baltimore Technologies (www.baltimore.com) cover everything from e-mail safety and security policy management to system-level security applications for systems integrators. SecureLogix Corporation (www.secure-logix.com) focuses specifically on protecting telecommunication networks with its TeleWall and TeleSweep products.

One company I recently met with is focusing on security inside the network, a growing concern for hosted communications as employees of various ASPs and infrastructure providers partner and gain access to one another's networks. Cryptek Secure Communications (www.cryptek.com) is getting ready to roll out its DiamondTEK line of security appliances, which sit inside a service provider's network (on the inside of an existing firewall, for instance). The products will offer IPSec, encryption, and token-based user authentication to physically identify users. The system was originally developed for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Please keep in mind that the companies listed above are just a small sampling of the vast number of solutions and service providers available today. We will be covering security in greater depth in future issues of this publication, but we hope that the information above will serve as a reminder of the importance of security solutions when delivering any type of hosted application.

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