CheckPoint opens federal office to sell firewalls

Internet firewall provider CheckPoint Software Technologies Ltd. opened a federal office to pursue network security opportunities.

The Israeli company hired David Steinberg, former vice president of federal systems at Bay Networks Inc., as federal region manager and opened an office in Alexandria, Va. CheckPoint wants to "create a group focused on federal needs for network security, firewalls and intranet connectivity," Steinberg said.

The firewall market is growing quickly, according to an International Data Corp. study released this year. That report estimated that the worldwide firewall market will grow to almost $1 billion by 2000. CheckPoint expects the government will represent 10 percent of this figure, Steinberg said. Federal agencies that have installed Internet and intranet World Wide Web servers are increasingly looking to firewalls to protect data.

"The government is leading in Internet and intranet adoption and has some of the most stringent security requirements," Steinberg said. "The government is already using the Internet for real applications."

Government contracts are specifically asking for firewall protection, Steinberg said. For example, the Defense Department's Standard Hardware and Automation Related Products request for proposals has 30 contract line items involving firewalls. "On smaller RFPs, the government wants to buy servers and firewalls in one bundle," Steinberg said.

FireWall-1, CheckPoint's flagship product, is now sold on I-NET Inc.'s General Services Administration schedule and will be sold through other vehicles. Current users in the government include the Air Force, the Patent and Trademark Office, NASA and the Army.

The federal market is a "pretty intense user of the Internet, so it's a good market segment to be in," said Steve LeCompte, vice president of IDC Government Market Services. "We're on the verge of heavy use of the Internet for interaction between the public and the government, and this includes transactions. The government needs security to do those transactions."

Most firewall vendors, including Trusted Information Systems Inc. and Secure Computing, have roots in the government, said Ted Julian, research manager, Internet commerce at IDC. The challenge these vendors have is commercializing their technology while continuing to meet government security needs.

CheckPoint held 40 percent of the worldwide firewall market last year, due in part to its extensive distribution channels and vendor agreements, according to Julian. CheckPoint has partnerships with Sun Microsystems Inc., which bundles FireWall-1 with its Solaris operating system; Computer Sciences Corp., Trident, and Cheyenne Software, which bundles its anti-virus software with FireWall-1.

The company will continue to be channels-oriented and will deliver products to users "through the channel that makes the most sense for them," Steinberg said.

The company plans to expand its sales, systems engineering support and marketing efforts. Steinberg said he expects the federal group will be one of fastest growing divisions.

Firewalls are designed to control unauthorized access to an organization's network and are increasingly being used to protect intranet servers. CheckPoint's FireWall-1 product comes with network address translation, virtual encrypted networks, user authentication for remote locations, packet analysis and a graphical user interface.

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