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Hardware firewall boasts superior security

With its hardware-based Storage Firewall, Valt-X aims to put security software out to pasture.
Written by Todd Volz, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- A corporation's data is one of its most important assets. Chances are, you're running security software such as a firewall to protect that data from external attacks, and an antivirus application on servers and clients. But is all that software protection good enough to guarantee the safety of your storage?

Not according to Valt-X, a security startup that introduced its hardware-based Storage Firewall unit at Comdex. Roughly the size of an internal CD-ROM drive, the Storage Firewall houses one IDE hard disk. Plug a drive into the device's housing, and the whole unit slides into a 5 ¼ -inch bay. The device's only interface is an LCD display on the front of the housing.

"The Storage Firewall contains its own CPU, memory, and firmware. All commands and data sent to and from the hard disk must first pass through the device, which can deflect any kind of system attack, including hack attempts, viruses, spyware, and even software microbes. To prepare a drive for use with the Storage Firewall, you set up two partitions: one is a hidden, protected partition--a "storage vault" for mission-critical files, the operating system, and applications. The second, which must be equal in size to the protected partition, is used as a temporary working area. (An optional third partition can be used for local data.) The storage vault is invisible to the system, and if the system doesn't know it exists, neither will a hacker, virus, or microbe. When an attack occurs, Storage Firewall deflects it to the temporary working area, which is cleared each time the system is rebooted, and any possible negative effects of the attack are eliminated."

Storage Firewall is intended to help reduce TCO by countering problems caused by user error. Users will often install third-party applications that shouldn't be installed, exposing their systems to spyware and virus infestations. These types of errors add up to significant extra cost.

To Valt-X CEO Dennis Meharchand, the advantages of hardware over software solutions are clear: "Let's say a virus penetrates your software firewall, and it takes down your OS," he explains. "If you don't have an OS running, you don't have a firewall. Software is an Achilles heel in terms of firewall protection."

Meharchand is unshakably confident about the security of his company's product. "Our lawyers don't like it when we call the Storage Firewall 'impenetrable,' but it truly is." He's so convinced, in fact, that he's literally putting his money where his mouth is, offering $10,000 to anyone who can cripple the system.

Until November 30, Valt-X Storage Firewall is available for the introductory price of $85 per unit; after that, the price is expected to double.LAS VEGAS -- A corporation's data is one of its most important assets. Chances are, you're running security software such as a firewall to protect that data from external attacks, and an antivirus application on servers and clients. But is all that software protection good enough to guarantee the safety of your storage?

Not according to Valt-X, a security startup that introduced its hardware-based Storage Firewall unit at Comdex. Roughly the size of an internal CD-ROM drive, the Storage Firewall houses one IDE hard disk. Plug a drive into the device's housing, and the whole unit slides into a 5 ¼ -inch bay. The device's only interface is an LCD display on the front of the housing.

The Storage Firewall contains its own CPU, memory, and firmware. All commands and data sent to and from the hard disk must first pass through the device, which can detect any kind of system attack, including hack attempts, viruses, spyware, and even software microbes. To prepare a drive for use with the Storage Firewall, you set up three partitions: one becomes a repository for local data, another is used as a temporary working area, and the third is a hidden, protected storage vault for mission-critical files, the operating system, and applications. The storage vault is invisible to the system, and if the system doesn't know it exists, neither will a hacker, virus, or microbe. When an attack occurs, Storage Firewall deflects it to the temporary working area, which is cleared every time the system is rebooted, and any possible negative effects of the attack are eliminated.

Storage Firewall is intended to help reduce TCO by countering problems caused by user error. Users will often install third-party applications that shouldn't be installed, exposing their systems to spyware and virus infestations. These types of errors add up to significant extra cost.

To Valt-X CEO Dennis Meharchand, the advantages of hardware over software solutions are clear: "Let's say a virus penetrates your software firewall, and it takes down your OS," he explains. "If you don't have an OS running, you don't have a firewall. Software is an Achilles heel in terms of firewall protection."

Meharchand is unshakably confident about the security of his company's product. "Our lawyers don't like it when we call the Storage Firewall 'impenetrable,' but it truly is." He's so convinced, in fact, that he's literally putting his money where his mouth is, offering $10,000 to anyone who can cripple the system.

Until November 30, Valt-X Storage Firewall is available for the introductory price of $85 per unit; after that, the price is expected to double.

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