"Beware of the Hackers"
Check Point senior executive visits Canada and calls to increase the means of securing information systems.
Amnon Bar-Lev, Vice President of global field operations at Israeli company Check Point, visited Toronto last week and met with representatives of the Canadian media. Check Point is a world leader in Internet security products and is considered a pioneer in this market. It was one of the first companies to produce a firewall. The company remains a world leader in the market. Check Point has grown consistently, and has increased sales from 515 million in 2004 to 924 million in 2009. This year it has received a profit of $435 million. Check Point trades in NASDAQ at a value of about $7 billion.
Following attacks on Israeli websites by Turkish hackers, Bar-Lev pointed out that not only sites that are associated directly with Israel may be a target for hackers, and called on websites to enhance their security in advance. "I do not think that a website belonging to a big bank or a large website that contains a lot of transactions would be a less important target of hackers. Political targets make more headlines,” he said and added that many things which take place are not made public on the Internet: “You may remember that a few years ago there was a lot of information on viruses such as Anna Karnina. Today, on the other hand, attacks by hackers are more focused."
According to Bar-Lev, no matter where you are, you should install the appropriate security system and run it correctly. He equated Internet security with having a home security system."You can have the best security system in your home, but if you do not operate it when a burglar arrives, the system will not work." He emphasized that a company policy should be made to fit the security system.
Keep things simple
"Check Point began with a very simple product," said Bar-Lev and explained that since Israel is a relatively small country and is far away from the centre of the international business community, a product should be as simple as possible. "This way, if you distribute a product overseas there is no need for complicated explanations."
Bar-Lev served in the Israeli Air Force, and is not a graduate of a special intelligence unit as other members of the founder team of Check Point are. He earned a degree in Computer Science and Management at Tel Aviv University, and then launched a computer systems company called Expert. The company dealt with the integration of large computing infrastructure and with information security, and became a business partner of Check Point. In 2004 Bar-Lev sold Expert to software company One1. In the end of 2005 he received an offer to join Check Point. There he began by managing the support department. A few months later he took over the sales department, and later took on the marketing department as well. Today he is directly responsible for about 1,200 out of the company’s 2,300 employees. Most of his employees do not live in Israel but abroad. He lives and works in Israel, but travels abroad about 20 times a year. 40% of his time is spent among customers and partners worldwide.
New solutions for customers
The economic crisis of the past two years has required allocating appropriate solutions to customers. Check Point offers products both in software and hardware. "It was a gradual process, at the end of which we acquired Nokia’s security devices. Today, the sales in the field of security devices are more than half the sales of products. It's a huge change that has happened in just two years."
The company recently launched a new solution recently ABRA, which is a USB flash drive that enables its users to work outside the geographic area of their workplace, and connect securely to the network even at home.
Canadian organizations and information security
Israeli organizations’ awareness for information security is among the highest in the world, according to Bar-Lev: "When I look at Check Point’s buying statistics in Israel, I can tell you that Israel has the world's highest consumption of Check Point products per capita. Israeli organizations are very sensitive to data security and believe in us. A lot of organizations use our technology.
Our portfolio of Canadian customers continues to grow. I think there is an awakening in Canada within local companies and throughout the world for about information technology security products. Canada doesn’t have specific characteristics compared to the US, but it’s important to remember that a result of its size, organizations and large companies are spread out geographically and are therefore more exposed to hackers.”
Bar-Lev summarized that the risk level is associated with the amount of operations performed in the system. The larger the amount, the higher the risk of a forced entry.