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ISS Takes Wraps Off New Security Appliance

Internet Security Systems pulled out all of the stops Tuesday as it introduced the first in a new line of security appliances that simultaneously blocks viruses, malicious intrusions, worms and other threats to the well-being of a company's IT infrastructure.

ISS' new Proventia M50 security appliance includes a built-in firewall, antivirus and antispam capabilities, content-filtering and virtual private network (VPN).

At the launch event, held in San Jose, Calif., Howard Schmidt, chief security officer at San Jose-based eBay and former cybersecurity adviser to the White House, spoke of the need to simplify and improve security within the nation's small and midsize companies. And George Gilder, CEO of Gilder Publishing, Great Barrington, Mass., and a leading pundit of the technology industry, described the need for a unified approach to security, rather than an amalgam of stand-alone products. "When industry gives customers everything they could possibly need, then modularity is desirable," said Gilder. "But when customers' needs are a long way from being met, then modularity is a problem."

ISS' Proventia appliance, which simultaneously analyzes TCP traffic for intruders, spam, viruses, worms and other vulnerabilities, avoids the "modularity" Gilder spoke of. To be released next month, Proventia M50 will be available at an introductory price of $8,995 through the first calendar quarter of 2004. This represents a $3,595 reduction in cost.

Mark Wasiele, vice president of channels and alliances at ISS, Atlanta, said the company intends to dramatically build up its channel efforts. While still retaining the security boutiques it has worked with for years, ISS is adding network integrators to its list of partners. "We never got out of the early-adopter phase because our products were too complex," said Wasiele. "Proventia is a more channel-friendly product that takes us into the mainstream."

A desktop version of Proventia is slated to be available the first quarter of next year, and a server version is due by the end of the second quarter.

Proventia itself didn't appear until about halfway through the launch event. Amid flashing lights, Klaxon horns, and front-loaders dumping firewalls into trash bins, a stage full of technology and business dignitaries first talked about the need for a simple way to fight today's security indignities. Steve Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes, used the opportunity to lecture about tax cuts, warn about an overzealous judiciary in a post-Enron climate and bemoan cyberattacks' effect on e-commerce. "People need a sense that the pirates will be held at bay," he said.

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