Toronto Hydro Telecom to counter DOS attacks

Toronto Hydro Telecom has launched Managed Firewall, a hosted service designed to let IT managers set security policies and to stop malicious Internet traffic before it reaches a company’s Internet access port.

The service, which is available in both a basic and customizable versions, can help protect companies from denial of service (DOS) attacks because it will stop attacks from the network, without cutting off a company’s Web access, said Dave Dobbin, Toronto Hydro Telecom’s president.

“Most companies that you go into today, we’ll see that they have a firewall installed in their location and they have an upstream Internet connection,” Dobbin said during a media briefing Wednesday. “It’s a great way to do things but it’s not the best way to do things. If a company gets a DOS attack, immediately their Internet connection is [too congested] and they’re off the air.”

Toronto Hydro Telecom hosts the firewall at its data centre in southwest Toronto. One advantage a managed firewall has over hardware or software firewalls is it saves IT staff a lot of time and effort, said David Senf, director of Canadian security and software research for Toronto-based IDC Canada.

Senf said small and mid-sized firms often have three or fewer IT workers, and usually they do not have enough time to manage a firewall. A managed firewall service, he added, would help companies configure the policies they want, and ensure the system is running when it should be.

Pricing for the service starts at $200 per month, Dobbin said.

Toronto Hydro Telecom’s Basic Firewall service lets users choose from one of four rule sets. The Branch Office configuration denies all externally-initiated flows while allowing all internally-initiated flows. The Webserver Office version leaves Port 80 open, the Mailserver Office version opens Ports 25 and 100, while the Mail and Web version leave all three ports open.

The Custom Firewall service lets businesses define their rules and tell the vendor which ports they want open. All other ports will be closed by default.

“It’s an extra layer of protection,” Dobbin said, adding many firms purchase managed firewalls because they use managed virtual local-area networks (VLANs) to access the Internet. This can be a problem, he said, because if something goes wrong with the Internet connection, “your LAN connection is gone and your remote offices are off the air.”

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