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Check Point unveils latest software and two powerful new security appliances

Check Point's
Gil Shwed

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., a company based in Tel Aviv, Israel, held a briefing at the NASDAQ offices in Times Square on August 2 at which it unveiled the latest version of its security software, dubbed R75.20, as well as two new security appliances, which it believes are the fastest and most powerful on the market.

The company’s founder and CEO, Gil Shwed, told an audience of Check Point employees industry partners, market analysts and journalists that the new Check Point 21400 appliance offered “datacenter-grade security” as well as a dozen different software blades that will each provide a unique security capability, such as a firewall, a virtual private network (VPN), mobile access, URL filtering, antivirus, anti-SPAM, and more.

The company also unveiled its new Check Point 61000 appliance, which it calls “the industry’s fastest security gateway,” which is geared towards such ultra-high throughput users as telecommunications companies, data centers and government agencies.

Shwed said the new 61000 was “12 times faster than the Power-1 11000,” which had been the company’s top-of-the-line appliance until the recent announcement.

Check Point also introduced an innovative concept for calculating – and identifying – the processing power of each and every component blade that is utilized in a customer’s integrated security appliance. By adopting a standardized methodology for measuring what it dubbed the “SecurityPower Units,” or SPU, of individual components, Check Point hopes to be able to calculate the capacity of the hardware that a customer needs to run to handle the processing power of the integrated security system.

In an interview with Government Security News after the briefing, Shwed said his company was eager to see this new approach adopted throughout the security industry.

“We want to open it,” he told GSN. “We want to publish the standard. I’m all in favor of making it an industry standard.”

Shwed said he sees very little difference between the requirements of his government customers and those of his commercial customers, in that both need high-end data processing power, both deal with massive amounts of information, and both are very concerned with internal and external security threats.

While he is always eager to win new government customers, Shwed acknowledged that the government sector represents only about 10 percent of his company’s current business. He explained this situation in two ways.

“First, some of our competitors actually come from the government,” he told GSN, “and they are much better connected than we are.”

“Second, there are some agencies in the U.S. Government that are still afraid of a company based in Israel,” he observed, “though not for any good reasons.”

In fact, Shwed suggested, some of his competitors might actually present greater security concerns because they perform some of their development work offshore, in countries that might be deemed risky, while Check Point undertakes all of its development efforts in Israel – a longtime, trusted U.S. ally – or in the United States itself.

He did acknowledge that he has always been careful to remain at arm’s length from any government customer, anywhere in the world. That’s because he is wary about the influence a powerful government might exercise – or wish to exercise – over his company’s products or software code. For example, Shwed said he would be concerned about allowing any government agency access to Check Point’s proprietary software code – particularly if they wanted to study it in a government facility – for fear that the government might try to introduce a “back door” capability into his code, which the government could try to exploit at some time in the future.

Rather than give a government access to his code, Shwed told GSN, “I’ll keep my source code, so nobody else will be able to make those changes.”

He said he has also heard about some unusual requests emanating from government agencies, as they try to cope with the ever-tightening budget crunch. ”I understand that we’ve gotten strange requests from some government customers,” he told GSN. One would-be government customer asked Check Point to send its product, along with an invoice “for zero dollars,” while promising to pay as soon as possible. “Our policy is not very receptive to such a request,” Shwed concluded.