Cinema chain UCI plans to roll out an intrusion, prevention and detection system to protect cinemas and office complexes throughout Europe, Asia and South America from worm and hacking attacks.
UCI plans to invest about £60,000 in technology capable of pinpointing, mapping and blocking malicious attacks, after trials in Manchester revealed the company's systems were facing more than 70 serious attacks a day.
The system, supplied by network security supplier Forescout, is able to trace the source of attacks on the internet, allowing UCI to work with internet service providers and police computer crime units to block hacking.
"We have seen everything from worms, viruses and other people's networks trying to access our networks," said Laurence Bentley, IT infrastructure security manager.
"We have seen scanning, structured attacks, script kiddie applets and penetration testing tools used against us."
UCI said there has been a 50% reduction in the number of hacking attempts reaching its firewalls since installing the hardware device, Activescout, in a trial at its Manchester datacentre last year.
The unit, which sits in front of the firewall, creates spoof applications and operating systems, which act as bait to hackers or worms. Any attempts to access the non-existent systems are automatically blocked before they reach the firewall.
The system has made it easier for UCI's IT department to convince senior managers of the business case for investing in security, said Laurence. "Instead of going through a list of numbers to explain, I can simply show the map of attacks in the past 24 hours," he said.
UCI predicted that the Activescout system, which has eliminated the need to hire an extra member of staff to monitor firewall logs at Manchester, will pay for itself in six to eight months.
The company plans to install a security console that will allow it to control the planned network of Activescout boxes in Japan, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Taiwan from Manchester.
Professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said this sort of intrusion prevention technology can be helpful, providing it forms part of a wider system of defences.
"Deploying technology that helps you detect and deter would-be attackers is a good thing. It needs to be done as part of a co-ordinated defence. The danger is that organisations can get a false level of comfort," said consultant Andy Beard.
This was first published in April 2004