Check Point appliances target small businesses

With an eye toward extending its reach to the lower-end of the security market, leading firewall and VPN (virtual private network) vendor Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. Monday announced Small Office NG, a new firewall/VPN package for small business, and two appliances offering similar features through its SofaWare Technologies Ltd. subsidiary.

Check Point has traditionally sold most of its software to the higher end of the security market, to enterprise and provider-level customers. The new products announced Monday, especially the SofaWare appliances, mark an attempt by the company to compete in the middle and lower ends of the market, where companies such as NetScreen Technologies Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. thrive, according to Chip Schooler, senior product evangelist with Check Point.

Small Office NG, or Next Generation, offers Check Point's Firewall-1/VPN-1 software in a package designed, both in features and cost, for small offices of 25 people or more, Schooler said. Small Office NG includes Firewall-1, software that performs standard firewall features such as blocking attempts to connect to protected PCs, blocking attempts by software on the protected PCs to establish outbound connections and detecting port scans that may precede attacks. The software also offers VPN-1, Check Point's VPN software that allows remote users to securely connect to corporate networks using the public Internet as if it were a component of the local network.

The software includes a new policy editor and new Web interface, both designed to ease the setup and administration of the product, Schooler said. It also adds support for broadband network connections and can be managed from Check Point's standard management console or from the Provider-1 console, allowing the software to be delivered as a managed service, he added.

Small Office NG can run on "Secure by Check Point" certified appliances or as software on a server, Schooler said. The software costs US$999 and is available immediately worldwide.

Through its SofaWare subsidiary, Check Point also released two new appliances offering firewall and VPN features aimed at small and branch offices, the Safe@Office and the Safe@Home Pro. The Safe@Office is designed for as many as 25 people in a small or remote office and offers a firewall and a VPN gateway that allows other remote workers to connect to it, Schooler said. The Safe@Home Pro offers the same features, but instead of a VPN gateway it is only a VPN client, meaning that it can be used to connect to gateways, but cannot accept connections, Schooler added.

Both devices have simplified administration and security-policy creation, Schooler said. The Safe@Office will ship worldwide in March at a cost of US$599, Schooler said. The Safe@Home Pro is available now for $399, he added.

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