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Check Point primps for small firms

Aug 16, 20045 mins
Check PointNetwork SecuritySecurity

President Jerry Ungerman talks about SMB needs, the company’s SofaWare and Zone Labs acquisitions, and more.

Through acquisitions and partnerships, Check Point has expanded its reach to small offices, offering security appliances, subscription services and consumer software. President Jerry Ungerman recently talked to Net.Worker Managing Editor Toni Kistner about the needs of this growing market.

Check Point first made a big play in the SOHO market two years ago with the acquisition of SofaWare and the launch of a security appliance. Then things got quiet until last year when you launched the Safe@Office VPN/firewall line. How did this device evolve from the SofaWare device? Is it the same?

When we announced the SofaWare acquisition and product in January 2002, we wanted our partners – Nokia, Sun, IBM, Nortel – to bring it to market. Over the next 18 months, Nokia decided to concentrate on enterprise remote offices instead, and the others didn’t gain enough traction. So last summer, we introduced two new Check Point-branded product lines with upgraded hardware and software. The VPN-1 Edge product is geared to large VPN deployments, thousands of offices, and for small businesses, the Safe@Office line, which has four models suited to one to 100 users.

Does a Check Point partner still build the hardware?

No, Safe@Office carries our brand, and we have them manufactured in Taiwan like everybody else. Small businesses get it preloaded and already running, easy to install.

Are you going after the SMB market, too? It seems everybody is.

Yes, but we define it differently. For 11 years we’ve been in the enterprise market; we’re in 97 of the Fortune 100, in 93% of the Fortune 500. We have 100,000 customers. Then we made a commitment to go after the small- and medium-businesses markets. But while some refer to one SMB market, we find there are significant differences in the users, their capabilities, their needs. So we’ve broken it down. Small is one to 100 and medium is 101 to 500.

We have the same problem with ‘SMB.’ It’s much too broad.

Yes, the market’s too diverse. And we know there’s a big difference between a five- and 100-person company; we still need to break small businesses further into segments.

How exactly do you define them?

By the number of employees accessing the Internet and by number of offices. A small business would primarily have one office, maybe with some teleworkers. A medium office would have up to three locations and 500 employees. The five-person small business doesn’t have an IT person; the 100-person office maybe does, but probably just one overall IT application person. The medium office has an IT person and maybe a security person.

How is your revenue divided among these markets now?

Of course enterprise still dominates with about 75% to 80%. The rest is medium and small businesses, a bit more of the medium-business market.

What major security threats do small businesses face today?

The day they sign up for broadband is the day they need to start worrying. And many don’t realize it – even I have a number of friends who are running small businesses and I’m amazed by their lack of understanding. They just don’t have the awareness that the Internet exposes their business to hacking and attacking and worms and viruses, that it can be damaged and shut down. That one attack would cost far more than a $300 or $1,000 solution from us, and much more than the monthly fee for a managed service.

How is Check Point educating small businesses?

Mostly through partnerships with resellers and broadband service providers like AT&T. Many broadband providers haven’t been aggressive in explaining to small businesses that they need a security solution because they haven’t had one to offer. So we recently partnered with McAfee to develop Secure-1, which takes our small-office appliance with VPN and firewall and adds McAfee’s anti-virus software. We’re taking it through the channel so small businesses can get it as a managed service. We manage it and put the policies in place and ensure everything’s up to date and protected.

You also acquired Zone Labs  just after Christmas. What can small businesses and consumers expect?

Zone Labs is the largest provider of consumer-based personal firewalls. The company just recently announced a new security suite that includes firewall, anti-virus, malware and spyware, available for download for small businesses and consumers.

Does the new suite use any Check Point technology?

No, although we’ll introduce a product later this year that will integrate all of Check Point’s and Zone Labs’ technology. It’ll be primarily for the enterprise, but some of it might get into the consumer product. And some will get into the small-business products for sure.

What are you working on for intrusion detection?

For the enterprise, we announced InterSpect in January, an internal security gateway that deals with worms and viruses inside the network down to the actual host.

Will that capability come down to the small business?

A lot of it is already there. We’ll add more, the appropriate level of protection against worms and viruses – just like the big guys have to worry about.