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6/7/2006
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New Service Seeks Out Security Gaps

SekCheck has launched a new service that audits security infrastructures and compares them against those of other enterprises

How can you tell if there are leaks in your security infrastructure? How does your infrastructure stack up against those of other enterprises?

SekChek, a company founded by former auditors from Deloitte and Touche, hopes to answer those two questions. Earlier this week, SekChek launched a service that evaluates a company's computer security systems and compares them against similar deployments.

The SekChek service looks for evidence that something malicious has been deposited on a machine, according to Andrew Jaquith, analyst at Yankee Group. If the user sets proper benchmarks, the service can also seek out evidence of "bad behavior."

The focus for SekChek is on diagnosing security problems, says Andrew Chodelski, vice president of marketing at SekChek. "We're like a blood laboratory. Instead of being sent blood to analyze, [we collect data] to confirm whether there are adequate antibodies to prevent against disease and infections out there, and to analyze whether there may be a [security] gap."

"Through the use of our Extract tool, various organizations can extract their data from the whole system and email it to us so we can perform the same sort of analysis," Chodelski explains. "We can look at it comprehensively and see whether there are any gaps that expose it [to intrusion]. We try to give them confirmation of that health check by showing them how they stack up against other companies in that same industry." SekChek maintains a database of industry averages for security compiled from 20,000 systems in 80 countries, he says.

Once the analysis is complete, users get a report on any shortcomings they have and, if they've run SekChek previously, a report that compares their current security state to previous reports. The Extract software, which runs on AS/400, Windows NT/2000/2003, Unix, and Netware systems requires no changes to the host/target system.

"This is very different from the agent software people have running around on their systems that basically is interrogating anything that comes by," Chodelski says. "First, you have to have a lot of confidence in that software. Second, you have the problem of deploying changes...it can be time consuming doing that on every box." The SekChek service lets IT managers compare the security of their systems before and after a major change, revealing any new potential security risks, he says.

But the advantage of agent software, such as that offered by Symantec or Computer Associates, is that it can be exceptionally accurate and reasonably fast, Jaquith observes. In fact, companies might benefit by using both the agent technology and the SekChek service in tandem, he says.

Some companies might be reluctant to use a system in which data is emailed to a third party. "Not every company is comfortable with having that information leave the company," Jaquith notes.

The SekChek service provides not just sample-based review, but a complete report on host operating system security controls, analyzing every security object on the system -- including users, groups, and profiles, according to company officials.

A detailed report is typically delivered within six to eight hours, and guaranteed within 24. Pricing is according to volume, but starts at $250 per review per box for the simplest system review, which includes a two- to three-page common summary.

- Jennifer Bosavage, Special to Dark Reading

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