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Q&A: ISS founder on IBM and beyond

Q&A: ISS founder on IBM and beyond
Q&A: ISS founder on IBM and beyond 

By Ellen Messmer

Internet Security Systems (ISS) last week entered an agreement to be
acquired by IBM for $1.3 billion in cash, a deal expected to close by
the end of the year. Network World Senior Editor Ellen Messmer
recently talked with Chris Klaus, founder and chief security advisor
at ISS, about what he plans to do next - and it could involve an
online virtual world he hopes you'll visit, too.

How did you get the idea for ISS?

Internet Security Systems started off as a personal security research
project to build the world's first public security scanner for the
Internet. This security scanner that would analyze a network,
determine vulnerabilities, and provide a report on what to correct,
originally was inspired by reading a book by William Gibson called
Neuromancer. In this book, the term "cyberspace" was first coined, and
the vivid description of cyberspace inspired me to apply some of the
book's concepts towards the Internet in 1992.

While at Georgia Institute of Technology, I released my research
project as the first Internet Security Scanner 1.0 on Usenet with all
of its source code available for free in 1993. I had such a positive
reception and demand for new features, I announced the intention of
making a commercial version of it. I took a break from school to
pursue my dream of starting a security company a reality. In April of
1994, Internet Security Systems, the company, was incorporated.

How do you feel about seeing ISS in the hands of IBM?

ISS has focused on enterprise security solutions, and we have built
both cutting-edge protection technology and an on-demand protection
service called Managed Security Services (MSS). When IBM, who has been
our partner for many years, came to us and explained how our solution
could grow within IBM's enterprise framework, and achieve greater
scale and leverage into many more customers than what we currently
were serving, it made sense to take advantage of that.

Our solution would benefit from IBM's vast resources. It would ensure
that our security solution as part of a larger IT framework could help
protect a significantly larger customer base.

Additionally, many of our larger customers were indicating that
security has become important enough to no longer stay separate and
stand-alone, but should become an integral part of network and IT
management. As security is built into the IT infrastructure from the
beginning, as opposed to an afterthought, tying our security platform
into IBM's platform would further complete this goal and desire of our

I am proud of what the ISS team has achieved and feel that by joining
a bigger organization that is very much aligned with our mission, it
will help us achieve a greater significant contribution to protecting
companies worldwide.

Are you going to stay with IBM or go sailing around the seas on a year

While I will be assisting with IBM, I am currently focused on my
second start-up called Kaneva. Kaneva stands for canvas in Latin and
we are enabling anyone to join and "paint" on our canvas with any type
of digital media, including videos, photos, music, games, and
especially virtual worlds.

As people build on top of this canvas, it becomes a social
entertainment platform to join communities, meet others, and share
experiences. We are in beta and working on a virtual world known as a
MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game). While this virtual world or
meta-verse technology is totally different from the enterprise
security realm, the inspirations came from the same similar books,
Neuromancer and Snowcrash. I recommend reading those books, and then
join me on Kaneva on my virtual voyage in cyberspace.

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