Skip to main content

British Hero Can Save Us From Cyber Attack

It may not have a dirty white vest and run around shouting 'Yippee Kai Yay', but the XGate device from British company Global Security One (GSEC1) is still loaded with enough hi-tech weaponry to save home PC users from cyber attack, while its sibling, the Prodigy, stands guard over business computers.

Mark Brooks of Manchester-based GSEC1 says: "There have been many headlines of late concerning cyber attacks but, worryingly, they have been about fact rather than fiction. Recently the Baltic state of Estonia has suffered a sustained cyber attack which temporarily incapacitated many of its businesses and banks. While allegations and rebuttals concerning who was responsible for the attacks rage on, the technology deployed is something with which we and many security organisations are familiar and we are concerned about how easy it is to initiate.

"Essentially, robotic networks or 'botnets' are instructed to direct thousands or millions of Internet messages or emails to specific addresses, causing it to crash as the bandwidth is swamped. These are known as Denial of Service or DoS attacks and, while they may not result in the theft of information, they can cost the target a great deal of time and money and impact on reputation if customers are unable to interact with it.

"GSEC1's XGate, which plugs in between a home PC and the broadband internet connection, and the Prodigy product which filters all internet communications coming into a company before delivering to the server, are both immune to such attacks. Should the DoS attack be generated from an external source the XGate or Prodigy Internet Security & Management (ISM) gateway will block it before it reaches the intended target, while the Intrusion Detection System (IDS) reports the intended attack to the administrator via email. The ISM will also quarantine any computers which may be the source of an attack generated from within a business network."

There are several types of Denial of Service (DoS) attack:

-Buffer Overflow Attack: exploits flaws in computer programs' data buffers so that they cannot handle more traffic than programmers anticipated

-SYN Attack: sender transmits a volume of connections that cannot be completed, causing connection queues to fill up, thereby denying services to legitimate users

-Teardrop Attack: an attack where fragmented packets are forged to overlay each other when the receiving host tries to reassemble them

-Smurf Attack: a network security breach in which a network connected to the Internet is swamped with replies to PING or Internet Control Managing Protocol (ICMP) requests. A single attack sending hundred of the PING messages per second can bring entire Internet service to its knees, rather like having 1000 people demanding entry into your office at once. The XGate and the Prodigy will filter the legitimate requests and drop the others.

Unlike traditional security solutions for home PC users, XGate is not a piece of software that sits on the PC and slows it down. It is a hardware device which plugs into the PC and includes an ADSL modem, enabling the user to safely browse the Internet as fast the connection allows. The XGate retails at £99.95 and is available via Amazon while visitors to can find details of other outlets.

Key benefits of the XGate approach include:

-it is a unified approach to home Internet security so doing away with the need for the user to buy disparate pieces of software or worry about integration, compatibility and licensing issues.

-A single XGate meets all home broadband Internet security needs and allows up to 4 computers to be connected

-A single renewal relieves the user from tracking multiple software subscriptions

-It's a stand alone device which stops threats before they reach the computer. Unlike conventional security software which will only identify threats when they have actually infiltrated the computer system

The XGate is currently ADSL compatible as GSEC1's research highlights that the greater proportion of the country has that type of Internet access and so it can offer a wider population of children the protection they need. The next iteration of the XGate will be compatible with cable Internet, wireless and ADSL.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.