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FULLERTON, Calif. – About every 20 minutes or so, some of the high-tech gear at Pacific Community Credit Union gets pinged by a remote server hundreds of miles away. And it’s a good thing. That ping is from Dotcom-Monitor, a Minnesota company whose clients pay it to make sure their Internet banking, e-commerce and other services are up and running, and let them know when they’re not. The company uses nine sites around the world, five in the United States, to monitor Web sites, other online applications and internal networks of more than 5,000 clients, says Vadim Mazo, CEO of the 5-year-old firm based in Plymouth, Minn. About 25 of those clients are credit unions. The rest are banks and other financial institutions, retailers, military and other government clients, Mazo says. “For the Web site applications, like Internet banking, what we do is replicate the end user experience, based on the parameters set by our clients. For instance, we can look up a balance and make a payment,” he says. That’s typically done by using an account created for that purpose. The Dotcom-Monitor service will automatically sign on, drill down through the pages of the site and see if that account can be accessed by querying the host server, just as if it was a member doing the checking. If anything’s awry, alerts are sent, by e-mail and pager. That’s happened only a couple times at Pacific Community, says Kevin Griffith, the IT manager at the $125 million CU in Fullerton, but it made the monthly payments worthwhile. “Once it was because we had a T-1 circuit that was down, and once our home banking server froze up,” he says. “We see having this as a critical piece of doing business, as a key way of making sure that our services are available to our members. “It definitely gives us piece of mind, by helping us make sure we’re providing those services our members expect, especially on the weekends when we’re not staffed.” Mazo says Dotcom-Monitor is strictly external, monitoring from the outside in a way that requires no commitment of hardware or software on the part of its clients. And there are few security issues involved, either. “Our clients usually don’t let us do anything more than any other user would be who was going to that Web site to do business,” Mazo says. “And what information we do have, of course, we don’t share with anyone else.” Clients pay from about $80 to $1,500 a month for the service. “The high figure might be for looking at something like 300 servers at a time,” Mazo says. Griffith says Pacific Community is at the low end of that price scale. Mazo and Griffith agree that the service is intuitive, easy to learn to use and configure. “For us, it was all done through their Web site. There was just a little program you download that records all your keystrokes as you record what you want to monitor, and then a script file that uploads that to their Web site, and it’s done,” Griffith says. “I don’t know if I consider it part of our security system,” the IT director adds, noting that the CU also has the requisite firewalls, intrusion detectors and other standard defenses in place. “I consider it more of a service that helps us be assured that our systems are up and available to our members at any given time, just as they expect.” -

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