Entrust CEO sees shift in security image post attacks

The terrorist attacks on New York last month have changed the landscape of the network security business and have led to a fundamental rethinking of the need for security and how it is implemented, according to Bill Connor, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of network security company Entrust Inc.

"Post Sept. 11 the rules have changed," Connor said Tuesday in Tokyo. "Before, there was a lack of understanding (about the technology) but now people are asking questions. It was more a technical discussion in terms of how to use it and what to use it for. Now, (network security) is fundamental."

"Frankly, many corporations at the non-CIO level are not sure what kind of security they are providing to their consumers."

Connor said his company has seen a large increase in inquiries from potential customers since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. prompted company executives to re-examine the security of their online systems. Entrust's systems rely on electronic keys to provide identification, verification and security management capabilities for computer networks and services.

Services like Entrust's used to be viewed as insurance policies against monetary damages caused by computer hackers but now, as security moves into the spotlight, the stakes are much higher, he said. "Sept. 11 has changed all of that. Now it's about how do I protect my assets, infrastructure and workforce. The reality is, Sept. 11 was a wake up call for governments, businesses and industries around the world."

The attacks, said Connor, have not only forced many companies into looking at using higher security but also pushed those already using it in some operations to consider extending it to others. "Having a non-secure portal (in banking) is not an option anymore. Having a non-secure desktop in government departments is not an option either."

Security breaches at companies are already becoming commonplace. Citing data from a study by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Connor said around 85 percent of companies in North America experienced at least one security breach last year with many costing more than US$2 million per incident and many involving company insiders.

Connor was in Japan to announce the refinancing of Entrust Japan Co. Ltd. The company plans to invest an additional $2.8 million into the Japanese unit to take its share from around 10 percent to 36.5 percent. Joint venture partner Secom Co. Ltd. will also increase its investment by $1.8 million to push its share of the venture to equal Entrust. Additionally, Entrust will also merge Encommerce Japan into the Japanese venture, a move that will make Entrust's complete investment in the Japanese company more than $3 million, said Connor.

The investment was being made to make clear its commitment to Entrust Japan, Connor said. Launched in 1998, a number of other companies including major financial institutions and NTT Data Corp. and Sony Corp. are also shareholders in the unit.

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