Check Point's Safe@Home and @Office Security

By Patricia Fusco | Posted July 02, 2003

Unfortunately, many small businesses wait until after a network attack has taken place before they investigate the benefits of setting up a firewall. Research firm AMI-Partners report that only 35 percent of U.S. small businesses currently use firewalls to protect their computer networks.

Founded in 1993, Check Point Software Technologies has grown to be a worldwide leader in Internet security. The company's virtual private network and firewalls have been installed by more than 273,000 organizations — Check Point's software secures 97 of the top fortune 100 companies around the world.

Check Point has developed a small office and home office Internet security system based on its market-leading VPN-1/FireWall technology. The Check Point Safe@Home security appliance is designed to protect home office workers from Internet threats for $299. Its Safe@Office appliance provides the same level of threat protection through an integrated firewall for $599. This security appliance can also connect and protect up to 25-networked devices and can be used to create up to 10 VPN tunnels, which provides secure remote access for employees working outside of the office.

The beauty of Check Points system is that the Safe@Home device is readily upgradable to provide Safe@Office remote access or VPN functions. This means that a small business can add VPN and remote access to the same security appliance without having to go out and buy an entirely new Internet security solution.

So why aren't small businesses flocking to pick up an enterprise-class Internet security system — or any security system, for that matter? According to Check Point's manager of small business marketing Ted Yeuh, it's because small businesses are not very proactive when it comes to securing their networks.

"A lot of small businesses believe that hackers only hunt for large unsecured networks to infiltrate," Yeuh said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Hackers look for any unsecured network to exploit. It's only after security has been compromised that small businesses actively seek out a security solution."

One of the reasons why network security has become such a hot topic from small businesses is the growing use of high-speed access for connecting to the Internet. "Always-on" access goes both ways for users and abusers. According to the Yankee Group, a Boston-based research firm, 68 percent of U.S. small businesses with between 21 and 99 employees have broadband access. Forty-three percent of micro-businesses, those with fewer than 20 employees, use cable or digital subscriber line services for high-speed access to the Internet.

Sticking your head in the sand waiting for a network breach is not considered an effective network security plan. Yeuh said this is why Check Point has made a point of offering Internet security devices that are simple to deploy, provide a high-level of Internet security, and are affordable for small business.

With small businesses relying more and more on their computer networks, Internet security has become essential. No business, no matter how small, should underestimate their need for sufficient network protection. Today, there are numerous products on the market that offer businesses and individuals firewall protection. The de-facto standard used by firewalls to enforce security policy is Stateful Inspection, which was invented and patented by Check Point.

Stateful inspection firewalls provide the highest levels of security for networks because they thoroughly examine each data packet and retain information about recent communications. They use all this information to decide if new communication attempts are genuine or not.

Don't confuse PC firewalls with true gateway firewalls. A PC firewall runs only on one machine and does nothing to protect the entire network. Sure, you could install a PC firewall on all of your computers, but updating the programming becomes a headache since you would have to update each computer with each new threat. Furthermore, all it takes is one employee to change the security settings on their computer and overall network security can be compromised.

Understanding security risks and potential solutions can seem overwhelming. This is why Check Point security appliances won't be found at your local consumer electronics outlet.

Check Point recommends that small businesses speak with a consultant when implementing an Internet security system. These security specialists can help you perform a risk assessment and craft a security policy that suits your budget.

Of course, for the real do-it-yourselfers, you can find a reseller the delivers Check Point network security solutions directly to smaller businesses, such as CDW and others.

Customer lists, payroll information, credit card numbers, or health care records are all at risk if you don't implement a security solution and keep the system up to date. You probably don't leave the doors to your office unlocked overnight. Why would you leave your computer network open and vulnerable to outsiders 24-hours a day?

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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