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Backlash against security firm founded by ex-KGB chief

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A security firm headed by a former KGB agent has come under fire for claims its forthcoming products provide the ultimate solution to computer security problems.

Invicta Networks, is developing security products that attempt to foil cracking attacks by using constantly changing IP addresses, which it claims "has the ability to cloak entire computer networks with a shield that makes them invisible and impossible to hack".

According to Invicta (which is Latin for unconquered), this means its hardware system protects against both external and internal hackers as well as denial of service attacks and computer viruses.

Buoyed along by interest in the firm's chief executive, Victor Sheymov, who worked for the Russian equivalent of the NSA and on a Soviet "Star Wars" missile defence program before defecting to the US in 1980, Invicta has enjoyed a great deal of publicity.

With so much of human interest to write about (Invicta's vice president of international sales, David Rolph, was the CIA agent who smuggled Sheymov and family out of the former Soviet Union) not much attention has been paid to the absence of any detail about how the technology works.

A white paper on its technology, which we're told was posted on its site yesterday, tells us that each computer protected by its system requires a network card and each Lan a secure gateway but is otherwise noticeably lacking in details.

As the launch date for products based on Invicta's patent-pending "Variable Cyber Coordinates System" looms, security experts are calling for the firm to substantiate its impressive claims.

Bruce Schneier, Founder and chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security, said that white papers from Invicta on its technology were "long on hyperbole and short on details".

He said Invicta's ideas are not without merit but are not as revolutionary as the firm suggests.

From the information on Invicta's Web site (which among other things alleges Philip Hanssen, an FBI agent caught selling classified information to the Russians, tried to get information on the Invicta system), Schneier's criticism seems well founded.

Reports suggest a launch of Invicta's products might occur in as little as a week but these are unconfirmed by the firm itself, which said that the only person authorised to comment on product availability for the company wasn't available for comment. We await his response to questions about the firm's technology with interest. ®

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