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Tool protects Y2K-compliant systems

Network security and e-commerce systems provider CyberGuard seeks to protect Year 2000-compliant systems from contamination from noncompliant applications.

Network security and e-commerce systems provider CyberGuard today rolled out a new enforcement tool for protecting Year 2000-compliant systems from contamination from noncompliant applications.

Millennium-Guard protects a company's compliant system by filtering any new external applications that have not been screened.

The tool is an extension of a company's firewall and checks whether any imported applications downloaded via the Internet or extranets are Y2K-compliant. To determine compliance, the tool refers to a list of companies that have submitted their Year 2000 compliance policy to a Web site built and run by CyberGuard. If the downloaded product is from a company that's not in the database and has not been certified by CyberGuard, it won't make it through the company's firewall, a company executive said.

Compliant companies will be tagged with a TradeWave certificate provided by CyberGuard. TradeWave operates an e-commerce certificate authority (CA) that issues digital IDs. Its best-known offering is a wholesale electric power trading system for power utilities that goes by the name Open Access Same-time Information System (OASIS). In April of last year, CyberGuard acquired the assets of Austin, Texas-based TradeWave from TradeWave's parent, SunRiver.

The Year 2000 problem, or the millennium bug, boils down to this: Many computer systems use software which tracks dates with only the last two numbers of the year, such as "97," instead of 1997. When "00" comes up for the year 2000, many computers will view it as 1900 instead, leading to potential failures.

CyberGuard vice president Tom Patterson said his company has tried to address a major gap in the way companies have traditionally fixed the Y2K bug problem.

"We discovered that they're going in and fixing the problem point by point, thinking the problem ends once 2000 rolls around. In fact, in an Internet world the problem will exist for another ten years" because systems that are not in compliance will be able to infect those that are, he said.

Millennium-Guard will give its customers comfort in knowing that their compliant systems will not be jeopardized by future infection from noncompliant software, he added.

Patterson said Millennium-Guard will be a free feature bundled with its firewall system.