IT managers mull ‘combo’ approach to security

HULL, Que. — Some vendors warn users shouldn’t depend on one product for all their security needs, but Henry Theunissen is looking for a device that will handle several different types of threats.

Theunissen, vice-president of information technology at Toronto-based William F. White International Inc., supports about 200 computer users in eight different locations over a wide-area network. For his company, which rents equipment to motion picture, television and theatrical producers, he wants a product that will support multiple security functions, including anti-virus, anti-spam and intrusion prevention. Theunissen, who attended the Enterprise Breakaway 2004 conference at the Hilton Lac-Leamy Hotel and Casino north of Ottawa, said Monday it takes too much time to administer several different security devices over the same network.

Having one device that will support multiple security functions is a good idea for some small to mid-sized organizations, said Kevin Krempulec, senior district manager, channels and small and medium business for Canada at Symantec Corp. The company’s offerings include Gateway Security, which combines firewall, intrusion detection and anti-virus features in one device.

Most small to mid-sized organizations do not have many IT workers, and are therefore looking for one device that will do several functions, Krempulec said.

But he added large organizations should buy “”best of breed”” products, which focus only functions such as anti-virus, firewall, spam blocking and intrusion detection.

A senior executive with another security vendor, Mississauga, Ont-based BorderWare Technologies Inc., advises users against buying all-in-one devices.

“”We’re certainly not in favour of one device that does everything,”” said David Hall, BorderWare’s director of partner marketing. “”A single network security device is probably not a viable solution today.””

But Theunissen said he is particularly intrigued by all-in-one products on display at Enterprise Breakaway, such as the FortiGate line of anti-virus firewalls, built by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Fortinet Inc.

Theunissen added he’s looking for a security product that will send him an e-mail when there’s a problem, rather than output copious reports that take a lot of time for IT managers to read. Security was a recurring theme at this year’s Enterprise Breakaway, held by the Computing Technology Industry Association Inc. (CompTIA), which invited equipment manufacturers, service providers and corporate and government IT managers.

During a keynote address Monday morning, BorderWare’s Hall said network security is becoming a greater concern as e-mail has evolved from a casual messaging technology to a service for critical business communications, including sales orders and contracts. Wayne Fraser, BorderWare’s director for Canadian government sales, said in an interview there’s an opportunity for channel partners to make money training users both in the technology and in the issues surrounding policy development and enforcement.

Security education is a “”huge opportunity”” for integrators and value-added resellers, Krempulec said, because more than 97 per cent of Canadian companies have fewer than 100 employees, and they are looking for channel partners with in-house expertise.

He added expertise is important for VARs and integrators selling other networking services, because organizations often include security expertise as a criterion with their requests for proposals.

Channel partners need to sell security as a complete solution, not just as a series of products, said Harry Zarek, chief executive officer of Toronto-based IT services firm Compugen Inc.

He added integrators can help companies control access to networks, especially from remote and home users. Another major opportunity for the channel is enterprise storage management, Zarek said. With legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley for the U.S., companies need to keep e-mail and other records for a certain length of time, sometimes indefinitely.

“”The challenge is, we don’t have any means of measuring the utility of the data stored on systems,”” Zarek said. Although many users judge the importance of a file by its data, some older files may have to be accessed more frequently.

VARs and integrators selling storage equipment and services need to have staff who are experts in at least 10 different vendors’ equipment, said Bill Conron, eastern regional sales manager of Crossroads Systems Inc., a New Canaan, Conn.-based storage router manufacturer.

As prices for iSCSI equipment comes down, more users will be able to afford storage-area networks, said Steven Cheung, managing partner for NetStor Technology Group Inc., a Markham, Ont.-based storage manufacturers’ representative.

Although companies became more aware of the need for disaster recovery after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and last year’s blackout in Ontario and the U.S. east coast, Cheung warned that backing up to remote sites can compromise security, because in many cases, the data is not encrypted when it’s sent over the wide-area network and stored on tape. Enterprise Breakaway continues Tuesday.

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