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Tech Industry

Study cites internal firewall risks

Companies are ignoring internal risks and will need to employ intranet firewall appliances not yet developed, according to a new study.

    While many companies use Internet firewalls to protect their networks from outside threats such as macro viruses and hackers, they are ignoring the internal risks that intranet firewall appliances may prevent, the Gartner Group has found.

    As network computing becomes more prominent, the integrity of the networks being used will be of paramount importance to the companies using them, says the new study, to be presented at next week's Gartner Group Symposium/IT Expo 97 in Orlando.

    Companies that want to fully protect their Internet assets must employ intranet firewall appliances, said Michael Zboray, Information Security Strategies Service analyst for Gartner Group.

    "If you don't have a firewall in place, someone will compromise your network," Zboray said. "Organizations underestimate the value of the assets they have in place on the Internet."

    Generally, firewalls are set up fairly simply: They allow "inside" users to go "outside" the intranet, while only allowing email to come into the intranet from outside. Intranet firewall appliances would allow network administrators multiple points of control within the network.

    Gartner predicts that by 2000, the firewall market, driven by the increasing need for intranet security solutions, will expand from a niche market into a mature industry, independent of the Internet.

    By 2000, the study says, intranet firewall appliances that protect networks from internal security risks will comprise 40 percent of the total firewall market.

    Although no intranet firewall appliances are currently available, several companies are said to be developing prototypes, including WatchGuard and Technologic.