Vets launching security group

More than six years after establishing itself as a profitable Web hosting business and application service provider, Advanced Internet Technologies (AIT) Inc. is preparing to launch a security division targeted at government agencies seeking top-to-bottom vulnerability assessments.

Clarence Briggs, chairman and chief executive officer at AIT, said the Fayetteville, N.C.-based firm has "six years of IT experience" and has developed an extensive checklist to identify not only information technology security holes, but also physical and personnel weaknesses and how they all relate to one another.

"With security, you have to take a holistic approach," said Briggs, who has 12 years of Army experience as an infantry officer and holds a secret security clearance. "If an agency wants an overall security assessment, physical, personnel and IT, we can do all of that...and provide a pretty good snapshot of where they're vulnerable and why."

Briggs said he believes that the understanding of security that all soldiers learn is a major asset for AIT, which has 180 employees — 80 percent of whom are former military, including seven of the eight executive officers. He added that the company has performed security checks for commercial customers and is now ready to expand to the public sector.

"We're ready to pull the trigger, we just haven't started to market it yet," Briggs said. "With the government, they hate to have an outsider come in and say they're not squared away, but if folks want a hard, honest look, we'll do it and all under nondisclosure."

And Briggs believes in practicing what he preaches. Every day, he assigns a team to check AIT's internal systems based on the thousands of action items on the security checklist that the company has developed for customers.

"Security is dynamic," he said. "You can't take a static approach," because if agencies don't perform periodic audits and other measures, "it will fail."

AIT hosts about 175,000 Web sites, including some for federal agencies, and is "playing an active role in homeland defense," but Briggs would not provide further details because of confidentiality agreements. He did say that Cumberland County, N.C., is a customer, and that AIT has also done Internet security training for Army and Air Force personnel at Fort Bragg, N.C.

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