Concern about security risks has kept small- and medium-sized businesses from conducting e-business on the Web despite the obvious benefits, according to one analyst.
“There is definitely a hand-in-hand relationship between e-business, e-commerce and security. I think security is the thing that holds people back the most in terms of rolling out an e-commerce solution in a really comprehensive way,” said Dan McLean, an analyst with Toronto-based IDC (Canada) Ltd.
Smaller organizations have also been reluctant to conduct e-business because they view the cost of securing their operations as expensive, McLean said.
“One of the things that scares people about e-commerce is the spectre of it being this expensive thing. A lot of the real value of moving to e-business, e-commerce, is that smaller companies can create a presence just as large as any other competitor. There is a real advantage for companies to move in this direction,” he added.
McLean said there is a need for e-business products to have security features built into them.
“This makes it less of a daunting thing for smaller businesses to roll out,” he said.
One company that is taking this approach to providing secure e-business applications is BorderWare Technologies Inc. of Mississauga, Ont.
BorderWare is currently developing an Internet application to allow organizations to secure their Internet mail and protect internal mail systems.
BorderWare Mail Gateway will include secure mail relay, virus and spam protection, and remote mail access using a standard browser. Bill Simpson, BorderWare’s director of technical services, said Mail Gateway, along with recently launched Document Gateway and Office Gateway, are hacker-proof, out-of-the-box Internet appliances that are easy to install and manage.
BorderWare president and CEO John Alsop said that BorderWare’s new products are aimed at organizations that need to reap the benefits of e-business, but have been reluctant to do so because of fears about the insecurity of the Internet or a lack of technical resources.
“The idea of the new products is to provide secure and safe e-commerce transactions to pacify both corporate and consumer peace of mind,” Alsop said.
Ian Wimbush, managing director of Peapod Solution Ltd., said his company chose BorderWare’s Document Gateway because BorderWare was the only company that offered a subscription service that was automatic and secure.
Peapod, a BorderWare reseller in the U.K., is implementing a “legal service” with Document Gateway. Typically, lawyers in the U.K. subscribe to a service
that provides electronic copies of legal forms. CD updates are sent every six months. However, the forms are changed on a regular basis. Ultimately, lawyers end up wasting time and money ensuring that they have the current form. Peapod is implementing a service, using Document Gateway, that stores these forms on a server and updates them automatically.
“It reduced my administration. There are less headaches and better client service. Now they get the form quicker and it saves me from duplicating all these thousands of CDs or floppy disks,” Wimbush said.
Document Gateway allows secure access to on-line documents. It allows workgroups to access, publish, share and edit files from anywhere. A subscriber option allows organizations to sell and manage user access to on-line information such as publications, product updates or research documents. Service providers will be able to use the Document Gateway to provide secure public storage, supporting many individual or company accounts on a single server.
Users log on with a user ID and password, then according to their security profile, create folders, upload and/or download files, modify their profiles, and monitor changes to files and folders of interest. Confidentiality is maintained through access rights applied to folders. Users can only see those folders and files to which they are granted access.
The system’s confidentiality is a key to stopping hackers from trying to do malicious damage, BorderWare’s Simpson said.
“What they can’t see, they can’t hack and can’t probe.”
One of the old staples of hacker attacks has been through e-mail, and Mail Gateway has advanced features to prevent this, Simpson explained. These features include: virus checking, SSL secured Web access to POP mail for clients away from their desks, anti-spam functionality, mail-mapping and alias support for secure mail relay.
BorderWare’s Mail Gateway, and the currently available Document Gateway and Office Gateway, are built upon BorderWare’s S-CORE operating system. The S-CORE is an integral part of BorderWare Firewall, which has been installed on thousands of computers and withstood countless attacks, BorderWare president Alsop said.
“We haven’t been able to cripple BorderWare,” said Paul Woroshow, vice-president of business development for Expert Systems Resources, a Toronto-based reseller of security products.
Woroshow said his company tries to hack all its security products prior to offering them to clients.
Alsop said the key strengths of Office Gateway are that it is a software-based firewall that includes an operating system, and that it can be installed in 10 minutes by simply loading the CD and answering a few questions. This is ideal for companies with 10 or fewer users and for small companies with no dedicated network administrator or security expert, Alsop said.
Mail Gateway (www.borderware.com) will be available by spring of this year and is expected to be priced at US$1,995. Pricing for Document Gateway is tiered according to application use.
BorderWare in Mississauga, Ont., is at 1-877-814-7900.