Published April 17, 2001
Volume 9, Number 4

SiegeWorks is Helping Keep Networks Safe
Specialists in Network Security, VPNs Provide Nokia Solutions, Training
SiegeWorks' Hacienda staff is working to make the Internet more friendly and useful to their clients. 

By Jay Hipps
Network Editor 

With stories about security breeches of computer systems appearing in the business section on a regular basis, it's becoming increasingly apparent that network security needs to be a priority for any business that uses the Internet. Fortunately, there are companies like Hacienda's SiegeWorks to help shoulder that responsibility. 

"What we do is provide solutions and services to make safe business transactions possible in this new Internet-connected world," explains Jeff Bennett, one of the partners behind the company. Their most popular services -- firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs)-- enable those goals. 

The company, which is headquartered here, also has offices in Sacramento and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

A Virtual Screen Door
A firewall, Bennett explains, is a way of keeping out unwanted data. 

"Imagine a screen door to your house -- it keeps certain things out and certain things in," he says. "The smaller the holes in your screen door the more control you have. That's essentially what a firewall does. With a computer network, you define what traffic comes in and out of your network with a firewall." 

This helps prevent unauthorized accesses to a network, which means that the data on the network is safe. 

Your Own Private Internet
With a growing need to access a company's computer system from field locations and home offices, VPNs are becoming more popular as well. 

"VPNs allow companies to let their employees into their network using the Internet as a virtual extension of their own network," he says. 

Older technologies allowing remote access to a company's network required leased, dedicated phone lines or dial-up connections, both of which can be expensive. Since Internet connectivity is now ubiquitous, cost reductions can be found in using Internet connections to carry private traffic. 

"The data is encrypted and essentially tunnels through the Internet and into the company network," he explains. 

CheckPoint and Nokia
SiegeWorks uses software from CheckPoint and Internet appliances from Nokia in providing both firewall and VPN services. The company provides configuration and installation services and can either manage the services themselves or provide training to employees to manage their own site security. 

"We're also going to offer a class on hacking, to teach the security people actually how to hack and what to look for," he notes. In the wide-open Internet, it pays to know both sides of the fence.

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