WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Soon after it was installed, a new content security appliance let Financial Plus Credit Union know about spyware threats on its system of a nature that the CU's tech-savvy EVP didn't even know existed. The appliance is the new PacketSure 4.0 from Palisade Systems, an Ames-based company with about 500 users of its range of security solutions, including several dozen credit unions. Financial Plus is one of a handful using the new PacketSure 4.0 solution, which resides on the network and proactively identifies, reports and blocks content that violates security or privacy policies from leaving the network, regardless of the communications protocol used by the content, the company says. Dave Cale, executive vice president of $64 million Financial Plus CU, says "we've seen various new things we wouldn't normally see, all the way from a `gator', which is just a bandwidth info-gathering piece of software, to a new P2P file that could be used for virus and worm attacks." The questionable software was found on an end-user's PC at the 35-employee credit union, and removed. Cale has been with Financial Plus since 1982 and only recently hired the CU's first IT coordinator. "I was CFO and have a wide range of responsibilities, but I do have a love of technology and have always tried to do what I can myself and now ourselves," he says. "But it's nice to have someone doing this kind of 7/24 monitoring." In this case, it's Palisade Systems (www.palisadesys.com). The firm's president and CEO, Kurt Shedenhelm, says the new product covers and blocks more than 140 different communication protocols, including standard e-mail, Web mail, instant messaging and FTP channels. Its deep-packet inspection also acts almost like a spam filter, Shedenhelm says, recognizing patterns as well as exact-data matches, such as xxx.xx.xxx likely being a Social Security number. "It's kind of bifold. It works for intrusion, too, and looks at information going both ways," says Cale at Financial Plus. Alerts can be sent in various ways, including via e-mail and popups. Shedenhelm says the kind of data his company's health care and financial services clients typically see moving out of the network include credit card and Social Security numbers, for instance, "and 90% of it more is not malicious," he says. "Our main selling point is that our product can contain intellectual property and confidential data within your organization to comply not only with regulations but also to help prevent identity theft breaches, intentional or otherwise," Shedenhelm says. The PacketSure 4.0 system ranges in cost from about $12,000 for an appliance for most credit unions up to a billion dollars in assets to $15,000 to $24,000 for larger organizations, the company says. Installation typically takes less than an hour, "but the content learning takes a little longer, since we're somewhat new in the marketplace with this," Shedenhelm says. "It does take some direction to use, but we provide training and good documentation, so it's an easy solution to implement right out of the box." At Financial Plus (www.financialpluscu.com), installing the PacketSure device was not an integration issue -"It was almost like putting in a new firewall," Cale says – and it adds another "level of security we can always use," he says. "Before, everything was based on policy and procedure and trust of our associates, rather than content and filtering," he says. "Now we can have both." As far as what he's seen moving out of his network, Cale says, one of the first things was the personal credit card number "of a staffer who was buying something." Cale says, "It was an honest thing. But if it's not business related, we encourage them to do that on their personal time." He also says deploying such technology helps the credit union industry as a whole, especially if members are told it's happening. "I really think that's one of the biggest challenges we face as an industry right now . getting the right equipment inside and then letting our members know how we're handling their security," he says. [email protected]

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