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Fighting vandals online

Don't call 'em hackers; they're vandals. That appeal comes from security software firms at the Internet Showcase trade show.

SAN DIEGO--Don't call 'em hackers. They're vandals.

That appeal came today as Internet security software vendors showed attendees here at Internet Showcase how to protect their networks and desktop PCs from Net attacks.

"They vandalize your PC, and we refer to them as vandals," said Shimon Gruper, CEO of eSafe Technologies. "It's not just hostile Java applets and malicious ActiveX controls; it's Web pages, plug-ins, and push technologies. The vandals can delete your files, read your email, and dial 900 numbers."

Four Internet security vendors--eSafe, Finjan, Cybermedia, and Internet Security Systems--demonstrated technology to safeguard networks.

"Existing solutions are not enough," said Gruper of eSafe, a new U.S. division of Israeli antivirus firm EliaShim. eSafe Protect is desktop software to guard against viruses by using a personal firewall and other measures to monitor both incoming and outgoing TCP/IP connections. The product, available via download from eSafe's Web site, includes a configuration wizard for novices as well as advanced features for more experienced users. It's priced around $50.

Internet Security Systems demonstrated its Real Secure server software, priced at $4,995, that tells network security administrators how well their software is working.

"We take the tools used by hackers and turn them to the greater good," said Patrick Taylor, ISS director of product marketing. "We make tools and technologies so you can improve the security on your network without having to impede business progress on your network."

Real Secure for NT, which he positioned as complementary to firewall software, functions as a "network sniffer" to monitor activity on a network and detect security attacks.

When an attack is under way, Real Secure can log the activity, send email to a network security administrator, record the session to create evidence of the attack, or kick the attacker off the network using a hacker technique called "IP spoofing."

Finjan showed its two products, client software SurfinShieldXtra that detects hostile applets or other efforts to tamper with a users hard drive, plus SurfinGate, its server application that can block Java applets or ActiveX controls.

Nine security firewall vendors have partnered with Finjan, some of them to build the Finjan software into their products. Finjan's products are available through major computer retailers.

CyberMedia's Mark Carlson, showing an early version of its Guard Dog software, likened the standard security setups to having a box with one side missing. "Guard Dog lets you put a lockable door on the box that contains your most valuable possessions?your data," he said.

Guard Dog, due to ship in late summer for under $100, detects Trojan horses and other kinds of malicious executables and blocks "cookies" that many Web sites attach to a visitor's Web browser.