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Taking a snap at security

01 Feb 2012

Auckland-based Mako Networks is taking a bite out of the international cyber security market,  providing services to not only connect businesses to the Internet but also to protect them from the threats it contains. "The company has been in security for a long time,” CEO Bill Farmer told IT Brief.  Founded in 2000 by Simon Gamble and Chris Massam, Mako Networks helps businesses comply with the stringent Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) for merchants that process, transmit or store cardholder data. Mako was the world's first network management company to be PCI DSS-certified up to Level 1, the highest security clearance available, and exports to the US, UK, Middle East and Australia. Around the world, credit card fraud and cybercrime is a major issue, with profits estimated to equal those of the international drug trade. Therefore, the major credit card companies created the PCI DSS in 2004 to help reduce the risk of card fraud. Any business that accepts credit cards must meet certain security obligations, which have proven especially challenging for small businesses without the expertise or budgets required to implement network security themselves. "We recognise that most small business owners spend most of their time working in their business,” Farmer says, " and we saw that as one of a number of opportunities to provide solutions.” The Mako System, made up of a combination of network appliances installed at customer locations, and a hosted Central Management System (CMS) accessed through the cloud, provides a complete network connectivity and security solution for small businesses that also helps them meet the PCI DSS. All configuration and appliance interaction takes place on the CMS via a secure website which is accessed over any Internet connection. No configuration takes place on network appliance hardware, making the entire system centrally cloud-managed. One of the most important aspects of the system came about in 2003, when Mako applied to patent a communication system which allows a hosted, Internet-based management system to receive traffic information from individual sites and in turn analyse, interpret and react to that information.  "It’s our single biggest point of difference, and is vital when you consider that the average business owner finds networking complicated,” Farmer says. The CMS compiles and interprets information sent from each network appliance, giving mangers near real-time reports on security threats, network traffic, and Internet usage. The management system can be configured to send pro-active alerts for specific events, such as data cap usage thresholds, worm and intrusion detection, or hardware triggers such as fan speed and CPU temperature. Communication with the CMS is initiated by each appliance, negating the need for static IP addresses or individually pre-configured appliances.  Each appliance also checks in every two minutes with the CMS looking for configuration changes, firmware updates or security patch updates ensuring the latest security levels are installed at each site location, as well as transmitting the raw traffic logs for automatic interpretation and analysis. The Mako System has been independently certified by ICSA Labs in the U.S. for SMB firewall security..