Internet Security Systems has its finger on the hackers' pulse, and it's planning to boost its presence in the Australian security market just to prove it.
Steven Laskowski, ISS' new Australian and New Zealand managing director, has started a local shop-front for the company to look after a substantial customer base including 25 government departments and agencies, 11 banks and financial institutions and five telcos.
The company totes a line of security software products to cover Internet, database and system security scanning, with a particular emphasis on vulnerability detection.
But perhaps what sets it apart in the crowded security market is its 35 "X-Force engineers" in the USA, Europe and the Far East, with one possibly to start soon in Australia.
The X-Force is dedicated to uncovering security vulnerabilities in software, operating systems and hardware such as routers, Laskowski reports.
He says the engineers "keep a pulse of what's going on in the underground" through such avenues as discussion groups and Internet chat rooms.
Laskowski reports high-profile applications and operating systems attract more attention from the hacker community because of the prestige associated with breaking into those systems.
"We actually have some of the X-Force engineers tearing apart SAP," he commented.
Laskowski, referring to a recent Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu study, said one out of three Australian companies have admitted their corporate networks were subjected to unauthorised access.
In particular, attacks centred on sensitive corporate information contained in databases.
Meanwhile, he claims around two thirds of US companies have been attacked.
"(But) a lot of people are afraid to say, 'yeah, I've been broken into'," Laskowski said.
Laskowski is the first Australian ISS employee and plans to employ 10 people by the end of 1999.