UK-based encryption specialist Becrypt is avoiding security-focused resellers in Australia for its Trusted Client product, which is a small USB memory stick loaded with software that allows any PC to connect safely with a corporate network, even if that computer is infected with malware.
Rory Brennan, the CEO of Becrypt ANZ, said that although it is "seductively appealing" to go out through just the security specialist resellers, he has found them disinterested.
"We have found that they are disinclined to take the product on until it has significant referenceability in this geography. I believe a lot of those resellers are box shifters and I think we need people who have a services capability to take on Trusted Client.
"Many of the customers who are buying, for example, a Check Point firewall, antispam and antivirus off a reseller, are not in the market for a Trusted Client-type product. I think it is a different type of customer," Brennan told CRN.
Becrypt ANZ has an agreement in place with Verizon Business, said Brennan, which markets its products - including Trusted Client - to Becrypt's target market of Australian federal and state government customers.
"[Verizon Business] provides security software as a service, managed services to the federal government. Trusted Client suits their business model very well," he said.
Becrypt also has a relationship with Multi Media Technology for its Disk Protect product, which automatically encrypts hard drives.
However, Brennan admits that he may be forced to change his mind about avoiding security specialists.
"In three months time I may correct myself and say the security resellers were the way to go but I don't think we have yet found any security resellers who are enthused about this, even though it is on the DSD Evaluated Product List," he added.
Trusted Client is a hardened version of Ubuntu 9.04 that has been cut down to its bare components - about 500MB - and bundled with Windows deployment tools. This is all wrapped in a layer of encryption and deployed on any standard USB drive.
David Jones, senior product consultant at Becrypt, explained that in order to bypass any malware on an untrusted PC, users just boot from the Trusted Client memory stick. The PC then requests a username and password before loading Ubuntu.
The potentially infected hard drive is completely ignored.
"We boot the machine from the USB stick so you come from a known clean starting point. We never allow users to see the hard drive, we never touch it - we assume it is dirty. Instead we use the available RAM on the machine as our work area.
"You can then use the machine to connect with a VPN, use Firefox, Citrix or whatever you want. When you are finished, you shut it down and we do a secure wipe of the RAM," Jones told CRN.
When questioned about Becrypt's decision to choose Ubuntu, Jones said the popular Linux distribution worked well with a diverse range of hardware.
"One reason we chose Ubuntu is because it is a very powerful OS and is very up to date - it has got lots and lots of drivers," he said.
Administrators can assign a portion of the Trusted Client USB stick to store documents or applications. Alternatively, if internet connectivity is guaranteed, everything can be stored in the cloud.
Housing the Trusted Client in a standard off-the-shelf USB drive means the product is not easily recognisable as a security tool. In addition, if the device falls into the wrong hands, when it is inserted into a computer, the machine will not be able to read the contents and usually advise the user to format it.
Not compatible with Apple Mac
Trusted Client will not work on Apple Mac systems because, according to Jones, they do not allow users to boot from a USB. The ideal system to run Trusted Client is an x86 PC that is less than four years old.
Becrypt claims ASX-listed Caltex, a major fuel supplier and convenience retailer, is one of the first companies in Australia to deploy Trusted Client. Trusted Client has a list price of $125.