According to AMI research, there are more than 6.9 million small businesses in the U.S. Of these small businesses, about half operate some type of server-based network, but most have no Internet security system in place. Only 35 percent have a firewall up and running on select personal computers.
With this in mind, Check Point Software expanded its Safe@Office series of security appliances this week. The appliances are specifically designed to be a set-it-and-forget-it security system for small businesses.
The Safe@Office lineup now starts two entry-level security appliances the 105 and the 110, retailing for $299 and $599, respectively. Sweta Duseja, Check Point product marketing manager, explained the company's strategy for securing even the smallest business networks.
"We believe that every company, no matter how small, should deploy some type Internet of security system. Check Point provides three different strategies from protecting business networks," Duseja said. "For enterprises, security systems should be at the perimeter of the network to protect the gateway. The second layer of security should lock-down applications and servers, protecting the network work from worms and viruses. The third layer is Web security, where access to business applications for day-to-day communications resides. Typically, this is where small businesses are most vulnerable."
Check Point defines a small business as an organization consisting of fewer than employees. Check Point's small business-customers range from a dentist's office with one or two users with one or two PCs, to sophisticated networks with e-mail servers and remote access for telecommuters. Duseja said what these businesses have in common is that they typically lack dedicated network security personnel.
"Small business networks are built with the same technologies that larger enterprises use," Duseja said. "But small businesses rarely have security expertise in place, due to limited IT budgets and staffing."
Duseja said small businesses do one thing that larger enterprises do not small businesses grow faster than larger enterprises. Consequently, small businesses need a network security system that is effortless to deploy and manage, but can expand as their business grows.
Check Point's new 100 series of security appliances can do both protect a small network and still leave room to grow. Check Point's entry-level appliance, the Safe@Office 105, wraps a basic firewall around remote access capabilities. It's enough to protect a small business network consisting of 5- to 10-concurrent users and up to five remote users from known security threats.
Check Point's Safe@Office 110 provides the same level of threat protection through an integrated firewall, and can also connect up to 25-networked devices. Up to 10 VPN tunnels can be created to provide secure remote access for employees working outside of the office.
Both security devices share Check Point's patented stateful inspection firewall and virtual private network (VPN) connectivity systems. Each unit can be setup in minutes, with simple, wizard-driven Web-based management tools. The difference is that the 100 series is designed to be self-managed, while more advanced appliances are designed for deployment by managed service providers (MSP). Either way, Check Point's Safe@Office products provide small businesses with enterprise-class network security.
When Check Point says its Safe@Office security appliances feature easy, error-free policy installation, they're not kidding. Compare Check Point's small business Safe@Office graphical user interfaces (shown below) with the GUI for its enterprise-class VPN-1/FireWall system the differences are dramatic.
Small businesses can adjust the pre-set security policies that are built into Check Point's software. But why bother? It's far easier to setup network security by assessing your needs as low, medium, or high rather than scrolling through an elaborate series of network scenarios. Duseja explained the difference between the three levels of security settings by using instant messaging as an example.
"Low security enforces very basic controls over incoming connections, while permitting all outgoing connections. For example, employees can send and receive instant messages," Duseja said. "Medium security only allows outgoing instant messages, but not incoming messages outside of the network. High security bans IM use altogether."
With firewall and VPN rules pre-set, small businesses can get the entire security system up and running in minutes. The result is that Check Point provides a cost-effective security system that doesn't disrupt business processes.
Check Point's Safe@Office products are only available through authorized resellers. Software updates and optional security services are covered under Check Point's subscription services. For the Safe@Office 105, one-year of toll-free telephone support and software updates costs $79, $99 for the 110. Anti-virus and URL blocking systems are available separately from Check Point's value-added resellers; pricing varies.
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