What's New in Technology for March 2006

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Technology Leaders Offer Small Businesses Safer E-Mail; Better Identity Management
All companies face constant problems maintaining the security of their e-mail systems. The problem is particularly troublesome for small business owners who have less time and money to devote to battling the spam, viruses, and other electronic menaces that threaten their business operations. Smaller and mid-size firms are also concerned with the same identity management and fraud problems that bedevil their larger competitors. Technology companies are beginning to pay special attention to the security needs of the small business owner. Here are a few initiatives that might be worth investigating:

Secure Messaging
McAfee and Postini, recognized leaders in anti-virus and spam filtering technology have joined forces to provide small businesses with a turnkey solution to protect a company’s email from digital attacks. The McAfee Secure Messaging Service (SMS) for Small Businesses is a hosted e-mail filtering service developed to protect against spam, viruses, phishing, inappropriate content, directory harvest attacks (when spammers try to hijack lists of active e-mail addresses) and denial of service attacks. The service uses Postini’s patented products.

The SMS is a set-it and forget-it "in the cloud" service, offering both peace of mind and convenience with no need for special software installation. From a small business owner’s perspective, this type of hosted solution provides some important advantages:
  • No new investment in hardware or new software is required. Small business subscribers’ in-bound e-mail gets re-routed through Postini’s servers where it is filtered and cleaned before it ever reaches the business. And, equally important, screening of out-bound e-mails means that subscribers don’t inadvertently dispatch viruses to their clients or business partners;

  • Threats are found and eliminated off-site, reducing possible contamination problems; and

  • The service eliminates the need for business owners to spend time and money constantly updating, patching and securing their e-mail system against new and evolving threats. Automatic updates from McAfee are constantly added to protect subscribers to the Secure Messaging Service.
Pricing is based on the number of mailboxes. Quotes may be obtained directly from McAfee’s web site or through its channel or retail partners. Prices run:
  • 11-25 mailboxes cost about $37 per mail box
  • 26-50 cost about $32 each per year; and

  • 51-100 cost about $29 each per year.
Fraud and Identity Management
As well as keeping the bad guys out, business owners also have to pay attention to fraud perpetrated by insiders. IBM is about to roll out a new security software system designed to help smaller businesses automate identity management - a key component in deterring insider fraud. According to IBM, some 70 percent of fraud cases involving customer data are insider attacks, and many of these involve fraudulent use of accounts that are "orphans" - that is accounts that belong to a former employee or to someone who no longer has the responsibilities that would require access to customer data. Disgruntled ex-employees, who may still access an account that should have been terminated, pose potentially costly fraud problems. IBM estimates that between 30-60 percent of small business accounts fall into this high-risk "orphan" category.

IBM’s new Tivoli Identity Manager Express is designed to block people from using accounts that the company has neglected to cancel. The software, which is designed to be installed by users without special IT expertise, can also detect possible attempts to access sensitive sales information, and identify who approved access to the data. It also helps companies minimize the cost and inconvenience of resetting passwords that have been forgotten, and enables business owners to generate new passwords on their own in minutes.


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