Intruder Alert

Tech company provides big-business protection for small firms

Call it ADT for your PC. With the development of SpiderISA, Richard J.B. Campbell, CEO and founder of Securiant Inc., is giving small business owners the same protection for their computer systems that a home alarm device gives a homeowner. The Atlanta-based company launched its flagship Spider product in April 2003 to help small and medium-size companies (including nonprofits and churches) prevent hackers and bugs from infiltrating their networks.

You might say, “Who wants to hack a church?” but one of Securiant’s clients, a small church in Georgia, had its network hacked; the thieves then used it to host a Website illegally. “[Church administrators] called us in because they were using so much bandwidth and didn’t know why,” explains Campbell. Spider was able to detect the predatory usage and repeal any future attempts.

Comparing network security to security for a physical location, Campbell says, “Most people know about anti-virus and firewall protection, but in essence all that says is anyone over 4 feet tall can’t walk into your system. It doesn’t check for whether they have a knife or are a thief. So, all a hacker has to do is get on his hands and knees and they can get in.” To prevent this from happening, the Spider detects rogue traffic in a business’ system and attacks that traffic based on anomalies in behavior.

Securiant, a 1-year-old company, was formed to support the development of Spider and to provide other security services. Selling Spider at $2,499 and monitoring the system for an additional $150 per month, the company has nearly $1 million in revenues for 2003. Campbell attributes the success to his target base. “We are in such a strong position because most products of this nature are very expensive and complicated. They are not targeted at small to medium-size companies, although those are the most vulnerable,” says Campbell.

In addition to the church, Securiant’s clients include the Technology Association of Georgia and Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Georgia. Securiant was able to help the hospital detect unauthorized applications on its Website, as well as help it comply with regulations to secure confidentiality of patient data.

A large part of Securiant’s success can also be attributed to the founder’s 13 years in the industry. At the age of 20, Campbell left Morehouse College, where he studied computer science, to work at IBM in Austin, Texas. Not feeling challenged, Campbell left IBM after only four months and returned to Atlanta to build and sell computers independently. He soon became a computer consultant for Coca-Cola, BellSouth, the American Cancer Society, and later for online banking Website NetZee, where he was hired on as vice president of technical operations and where he first implemented his idea for the Spider.

Campbell says that he learned many lessons the hard way like many who started companies during the technology boom. He started his company with 21 employees to work on and complete the Spider project. He later scaled back to six and is now growing with his client base.

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