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Putting security first

Source: Courier & Press
Date: January 09, 2004

Internet service provider gives businesses a break by adding online safety features
The Internet is an information superhighway where danger lurks around many bends.
Hackers ambush. Viruses waylay. Spammers overwhelm with unwanted e-mail.

In this kind of world, businesses are looking for security, and a new local business, SITCO, is trying to help them.

SITCO, which stands for Secure Internet Technology Company, is a wireless Internet service provider that offers a level of security other providers do not.

It provides the security - protection against the hacker, virus, spam and other problems - that a business normally would have to provide for itself, said Tom Kolb, a partner in the company.

The company, three years in research and development, is now offering its services to the public, Kolb said. It has 15 clients in the Evansville and Gibson County area, including Gibson County government, Kolb said.

The company has towers for wireless transmission on Evansville's East Side and Downtown, and its offices are at 101 Plaza East Blvd.

"The Internet is a wonderful tool for individuals and businesses, but it can be a worst nightmare if it isn't controlled properly with security devices," Kolb said. "For the business customer, it (SITCO) is kind of like outsourcing your security to your Internet service provider. It's an extremely new approach."

Kolb has been in the data processing business for 20 years, during which time he has been a partner in Insight Network Consultants, an Evansville application hosting and wireless company. Application hosting allows companies to rent the use of servers, or specialized powerful computers that Insight owns, to run business applications over the Internet. The company is unrelated to Insight Communications, an Evansville cable television and cable modem Internet service provider.

From this business, Kolb perceived that businesses were increasingly concerned about the growing problem of hackers, viruses and other security problems. As a result, he began researching a way to provide a more secure Internet service.

Traditional ISPs do not provide security services, Kolb said. There are a variety of reasons for that, including the fact that it would be difficult for established ISPs to take steps to provide these security measures today, Kolb said. As a result, most ISPs let customers connect to the Internet, who in turn provide virus protection and firewalls to stop hackers and intercept spam.

SITCO provides these services at the level of the ISP. If an e-mail is wrongly identified as spam by SITCO, it is stored in a way that it can be retrieved - something that rarely happens, Kolb said.

SITCO also filters Web pages for malicious codes that can damage a computer - an increasingly popular technique of hackers, Kolb said.

The company uses a different wireless technology than most wireless companies, Kolb said. It sends a scrambled message that is virtually eavesdrop-proof.

SITCO also can restrict access to specific types of Internet sites if a business desires it, Kolb said. To receive the service, a small antenna and a cable modem must be installed in the company's building. In the cases where SITCO already has an antenna and cable modem in the building serving another tenant, no new antenna or modem needs to be installed, Kolb said.

The cost of installation is $250 to $400, Kolb said. The monthly charges start at $80.

The signals are transmitted from the small antennas at a subscriber's building to one of two towers the company owns - one in the Old National Bank building in Downtown Evansville and one at the company's East Side location.

The company broadcasts to Gibson County with microwaves from the Old National Bank building, Kolb said.

Kay Vore, executive secretary of the Gibson County Commissioners, said the county was "completely satisfied" with SITCO. County offices are both in the Courthouse and North Annex building. Only the North Annex building had Internet service before and it was dial-up service. SITCO brought high-speed Internet service to both offices, she said.

Security also was also important for county officials, particularly judges, Vore said.

In a related development, the company is deploying hot spots in the area that the public can use to connect to the Internet via the air waves, Kolb said. The first of these hot spots will be at Schlotzsky's Deli, 301 N. Green River Road.

The company is marketing its service to businesses, but Kolb said he might some day start another company that offers the same service to individuals.

Original article

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