Israeli appliance keeps your inbox safe from harm

PineApp’s ArchiveSeCure keeps a record of corporate email activity, allowing managers to reproduce records when required by law.Spam, that annoying accouterment to your inbox, isn’t just a nuisance – it can be downright dangerous, and not just for those who …

PineApp’s ArchiveSeCure keeps a record of corporate email activity, allowing managers to reproduce records when required by law.Spam, that annoying accouterment to your inbox, isn’t just a nuisance – it can be downright dangerous, and not just for those who fall for a “Nigerian scam.”

Hackers can bring down a server using e-mail in a number of ways – viruses, denial of service attacks, or Trojan horses, to name just a few, says Danny Michaeli, product manager for Israeli email security company, PineApp.
“E-mail can be a lot more dangerous than people think,” Michaeli tells ISRAEL21c.

Protecting and archiving e-mail is PineApp’s business. What firewalls have done for computer networks, PineApp aims to do for e-mail. The company’s first appliance, Mail-SeCure, is a separate piece of hardwire that isolates bad messages in a safe zone and prevents them from contaminating the rest of the system, ensuring maximum security for organizations and users.

PineApp’s ArchiveSeCure keeps a record of corporate e-mail activity, allowing managers to reproduce records when required to by government or courts. And SurfSeCure protects organizations from the hazards of web-based e-mail, as well as other online web threats.

So, just how bad can bad e-mail be? “If a hacker wanted to take down a system, they could send millions of e-mail messages to a server, essentially performing a denial of service attack,” Michaeli says. Such attacks are actually not uncommon, and when they occur, e-mail traffic can get held up for days, resulting in lost business.

Trojans and viruses waylaid

Then there are the more common threats – viruses that spread onto a server when e-mail is opened, or Trojans that plant themselves into a user’s computer, for later activation. With PineApp’s appliances, however, those threats are neutralized – because the bad messages never have a chance to make it onto servers or user desktops.

“The PineApp appliance is attached to the mail server, and evaluates each message that comes in,” Michaeli explains. “Messages are scanned for suspect attachments, and are ‘killed’ before they make it onto the mail server or into a user’s inbox. And any messages that don’t have a valid destination are also eliminated before making it onto the server,” thus preventing hackers from performing a DOS attack.

The appliances, which are designed for small and medium sized companies, are built on a custom Linux platform that is encrypted on several levels and cannot be easily compromised. This makes it hard for hackers to write viruses or Trojans.

PineApp began selling Mail-SeCure six years ago, making it “one of the first companies to develop a full suite of e-mail protection appliances”, according to Michaeli. Until then, affordable e-mail protection systems for companies of even several thousand employees were primarily software-based, despite the inherent risks of those systems being compromised.

It’s no wonder then that the idea has caught on like wildfire. In Israel, where the company has been selling Mail-SeCure since 2002, it has a 40 percent market share. Sales abroad began two years ago and PineApp already has thousands of customers in 51 different countries. You don’t get those kinds of results with powerful marketing alone, says Michaeli, the explosive growth in PineApp’s sales is a result of its quality products, he says.

Seven years of messages to archive

PineApp, which employs 55 people, hopes to repeat its success with its new products, especially ArchiveSecure. With new laws in the US and EU requiring companies to archive up to seven years of messages – and the fact that only 14% of companies are currently doing such archiving – Michaeli feels that the company will do well with its secure archiving appliance.

“Companies can save time, money and aggravation using ArchiveSecure,” Michaeli tells ISRAEL21c. “For example, with our smart attachment storage, the system saves only one copy of an attachment, even if it appears in thousands of emails – saving as much as 90 percent on storage costs,” he says.

PineApp “has been doing well” in recent months, according to Michaeli, though he admits that he is concerned about future sales, given the worldwide recession.

“We know that clients of ours have postponed projects, but we believe that we’ll be able to ride out the storm, especially given the fact that companies are required to institute message archiving systems now,” he says. “Plus, companies have become much more concerned over losing money – meaning that they will want to make sure their sensitive internal communications are as secure as possible, to ensure that no errors are made.”

The company’s location – Nesher, a development town near Haifa – shows clients that PineApp means business, Michaeli says. “As a private company, we can concentrate on building the best products, and don’t have to worry about impressing investors, like they do in Tel Aviv. We have a very dedicated staff and CEO – we don’t even have an espresso machine in the office.”

That’s the kind of entrepreneurial gumption you need to survive tough times – and with that can-do attitude, it is likely that PineApp’s appliances will be deployed in e-mail systems across the globe.