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Computer Peripheral Solutions, LLC - Tech Tips
Comments Heard At The Booth

The following are some of the Comments (C) and Reponses (R) that were "heard at the Booth" at some of the security conferences and shows that we attended. They reflect the concerns of those who are using Dial Security as well as those who may be investigating it for the first time.

Most of the suggested solutions are based on our CHALLENGER family of hardware dial security products. It demonstrates the flexibility and broad range of the family.

Concerns change as technology evolves, but the old ones don't seem to go away. Some of the newer concerns and product solutions are added at the end of each section.

If you would like to include your comment or experience, click here sales@cpscom.com and we will add it to the e-mail FEEDBACK section.


C. "Our users don't like our current sign-on security system with the key pads on the credit cards. It takes too long to sign-on; an average of over 4 minutes. We got the system years ago, but now we have 50 times as many sign-ons and it adds up. We need to streamline the procedure."

R. Use a CHALLENGER system. The user simply connects a match-box sized security KEY to his modem and uses it. No further intervention is required.

C. "We don't need a national defense type of security, just something that is easy for us and easy for our users, but we want it to work too... and not too expensive."

R. Use the CHALLENGER P2. They are only $79.00 each. Buy as many Challenger P2 Auxiliaries as are required for your application. They are deceptively simple to use and with over a billion handshake combinations that change with each call, you may be closer to a national defense level of authentication than you realize.

C. "We had enough trouble getting the software to work and training the users to use it. I don't want to go through that again for the sake of security. I just need something easy, that I can put in the mail and the secretaries can connect."

R. The CHALLENGER KEYs have two RJ-11 connectors. Anyone can connect them; from that point they operate transparently.

C. "With your Challenger, we can skip a lot of the of our initial software security procedures and just use it for auditing. It works great."

C. "We use passwords. I don't want to change our whole system. I just need something that will work with it. A front end of sorts."

R. Passwords are quickly becoming obsolete, but combining them with a hardware system can make them a thousand times more effective. Hardware such as CHALLENGER LOCKs and KEYs will also provide the "something you have" aspect to meet the requirement for two factor authentication.

C. "We don't have much control over our users. They share passwords. One password was used from Chicago and LA within the same half-hour. This makes our audit reports useless. I want something they have to carry with them."

R. Give them CHALLENGER KEYs. They can't get into your system without them. Plus your audit reports can tell you if the password and User IDs in the KEYs match. What was that user's name? O.J.?

C. "The bank auditors busted me for having a dial modem on our mainframe. I only turn it on at night, so I can fix any problems from home. What do you have that will pacify them?"

R. A simple CHALLENGER P2 should do the trick.

C. "Attacks are happening in micro seconds, our current software only deals with it after the fact."

R. Use STANDARD CHALLENGER hardware on your modems, the attacks will be defeated before they happen. That should be quick enough. It provides a pretty good audit trail too. No sense in dealing with attacks after they happen. A much better solution is to prevent them.

C. "Our information may not be useful to anyone else. I just don't want to be fair game to every wacko with a modem."

R. Unfortunately, the number of wackos with modems is increasing, but CHALLENGER LOCKs and KEYs will stop the rascals.

C. "I want something that will work on all of my platforms. I don't want to have to change it as my software changes."

R. The CHALLENGER LOCKs and KEYs connect to the analog side of the operative modems so they don't care what type of modem they are connected to or what kind of hardware or software is on the other side of the modem.

C. "We don't want to deal with a security breach. We want to avoid it, but without driving our users crazy."

R. CHALLENGERS are just the ticket for you. They avoid confrontations with unauthorized callers and are completely transparent to the authorized callers.

C. "I wonder how many bogus attempts are occurring on my lines. Can your system tell me?"

R. The event log on the STANDARD CHALLENGER can supply that information. It will give you the time and date of each bogus attempt on each line. We also have some other products that can report the Caller ID of the caller. If that is of interest, look at the TelCo Line to Computer Interface (TLC).

C. "Our insurance company said that they wouldn't raise our rates if we got some better security on our dial lines. What do you have that is cheap and easy that will satisfy the insurance guys?

R. The CHALLENGER P2. They are $79.00 each. You will have to do the math.

C. "We use PC Anywhere and allow our staff to dial in, but some PCs have sensitive information."

R. Use the CHALLENGER P2 to provide authenticated access. If the sensitive information is on a server, we also have another product called a MINI FIREWALL that will simply disconnect the PC from the LAN when the modem is in use. It is only $85.00.

C. "(School System) The word is out! Everybody is using dial access to our server for access the Internet. Never a free line. We have to restrict access some how."

R. Give students a CHALLENGER KEY. Let them check it in and out like a library book. Put a max call time in the key.

C. "We have a Fire Wall between our server and the public server, but some users are using their own modems to dial in behind it. This leaves us vulnerable."

R. This has to be addressed at the wall plates or in the wire closet.

C. "How can I provide security at the desk top or the work groups level with your products?"

R. Combine the CHALLENGER with our Telephone Line Sharing Switches (TSS). You can place a CHALLENGER LOCK or KEY in the wire closet on each telephone line or before a work group. The possibilities are amazing.

Secure TSS Diagram

C. "We get some financially sensitive FAXes. I want to be sure the signature matches the sender's ID."

R. The CHALLENGERS can be used with FAXes as well as with modems. Connect them in the same manner. No FAX will get through unless there is a CHALLENGER KEY connected to the sending machine and the user ID in the KEY can be matched against the signature.

C. "We switch our voice lines to modems at night to down load print files. Many times we get a lot of crap in the morning and no print files. I think someone has found our modems and is messing with our system."

R. Put a couple of CHALLENGER P2 on one of the lines to see if the problem clears up. It will save a lot of speculation.

C. "We have 16 sites around the country that occasionally dial each other during the day and transfer some files at night. What can we do to secure those modem lines?"

R. Use the CHALLENGER P2. It serves as a LOCK on all of your modems, but turns into a KEY when outbound calls are placed to another LOCK secured system; or other non-secured system. They are match-box sized units with two RJ-11 connectors. Just send them to your sites. Anyone can install them.

C. "Well Telecommuting has finally hit xyz Co. As the first step, what do you have to verify legitimate callers?"

R. The STANDARD CHALLENGER is the standard product solution for this application. Each caller has a hardware Key connected to their modem. If they go on the road, they can take it with them. If they always call from home, you might look at something that can screen calls based on Caller ID. This is a little less secure, but it saves the cost of the hardware Keys. The TLC can screen calls based on both Caller ID and hardware Keys so it can be used for the mobile callers as well as those from fixed locations.

C. "We have a policy that no PC can have a modem and a NIC card installed. But I know some users are bringing in their own modems and are surfing the net. It scares the crap out of me knowing that they are connected to our network while this is going on."

R. The MINI FIREWALL is what you are looking for. It is a simple low cost product that will disconnect the PC from the LAN when the modem is in use. Use the wall plate version so they cannot easily bypass it. The ENFORCER version of this product requires them to run a software program prior to re-establishing the LAN connection; if they don't have this program they will have to ask you. Then you got them! You might also review their temp internet files at that time so you know where they have been. The word will soon spread.

C. "I know that some of our employees bring in their own modems so they can dial into their PCs at night. How can I prevent these rogue modems from receiving inbound calls?"

R. Get one of our Telephone Sharing Switches (TSS 2x8 or 4x8) and connect their phone lines, in the wire closet, to the "station ports" that cannot receive inbound calls (3-8 or 5-8). This will still allow them to use their modems to dial out from that location, but not receive inbound calls.

C. "We just implemented dial security for some of our telecommuters and for our field agents. We used xxx ID cards where the caller has to interact with a control unit at the host site by entering randomly changing codes that appear on a credit card if you press the right buttons. What a mess! We give them four minutes to sign on and I think that I have to raise it to seven minutes. Some people never get on. We have a lot of this equipment on order, but I think I can send it back. It's more than just a learning curve. It's just too complicated for the level of personnel and the environment that we intended it for... and to think, we paid a consultant for this recommendation."

R. I know the system to which you are referring. One of our customers did a study of our equipment (STANDARD CHALLENGER) verses theirs. With ours, the number of successful sign-ons on the first attempt increased 92% and the average time to sign-on dropped from 3.3 minutes to 30 seconds (including modem training time). You haven't yet hit the dead battery syndrome either. I also heard that they are also licensing the use of these cards for a certain time. Is that true? Or should I ask your consultant? I hope you didn't pay him yet.

C. "To save phone lines, I want to poll all of my salesmen's PCs at night in their homes. This means that they will have to leave them on. Which means that they are open for anything. What do you have?"

R. Put a CHALLENGER P2 AUXILIARY on each of the salesman's modems and another on each of the polling lines. The salemen will also be able to call you during the day on a secure basis if that may be a requirement.

C. "We use war dialers to scan our company's lines to enforce our policy against open modems. What do you have that I can offer the department manager as an alternative to taking out the modem when I find them?"

R. He can put a CHALLENGER P2 AUXILIARY on the modem and give another one to whoever requires access to it.

C. "We are automating our sales force as well as increasing our telecommuting effort. Now the issue of security is increasing. We are running UNIX and considering NT. I am told that since UNIX is very open, it is not very secure. Do you have anything in that area?"

R. Log on to one of the hacker WEB sites and you can probably get about 50 pages of methods of hacking UNIX or NT systems. To address this issue, we make a whole family of hardware security devices called the CHALLENGERS.

They connect to the operative modems, and operate like Locks and Keys. The caller must have the proper Key to be able to access a "Locked" modem. The LOCKs range from small single line units up to larger 19" programmable rack mount units that can secure up to 64 modems and provide detailed audit reports. The larger programmable models start at $1195.00 and the smaller preprogrammed single line units cost $99.00 each. The KEYs range from $99.00 to about $60.00 depending on the model and the quantities.

Challenger Family Diagram

You may be able to use Caller ID to verify access for your telecommuters that call from fixed locations. We have a product called the TLC that can recognize both caller ID and the hardware Keys. So only the mobile users would require the $79.00 hardware Keys. The TLC keeps a database of authorized codes and provides excellent audit reports. The nice thing about all of the Challenger family is that they operate on the analog side of the modems and are completely transparent to the hardware, software, and the user; no additional codes to enter or other burden on the caller. If you make it too cumbersome, the users will rebel and try to find a way around it. Security does not have to be cumbersome. The TLC cost is $295.00.

TLC Diagram

Added July 10, 2001

C. "We configure our modems not to answer so they can only be used for outbound calls, but the users have learned to reconfigure and use them for outside access. Now we have open modems."

R. Put a CHALLENGER P2 lock on each of the modems. It will reject all inbound calls since no Key exists for them. Unless you want some of those too.

C. "How can I be sure that the passwords I give my contractors are not spread around?"

R. Use a CAS and give them a one-time password each time they have to call in. You could also designate a time limit in which to call in.

R. Optionally, you could also use a SP-RRC and an Intelligent AC power strip to power the modems ON when required.

C. "I use your K-RRC to turn remote modems ON and OFF as required. What if someone quits and walks off with a Key?"

R. Buy a $99.00 Programmer then simply call all of the "controller sites" (K-RRC). When they answer, they will automatically be reprogrammed with a new code. Then you could also call the Keys or let them call the programmer to get them reprogrammed. This is a very simple process.

C. "Ok, I can use a CHALLENGER P2 to authenticate access, but I still don't want the callers to have access to my entire network when they do call in."

R. Use a MINI FIREWALL also. When the modem answers, the MFW will disconnect the network. Or you could elect to disconnect only selected servers.

C. "Providing CHALLENGER P2 hardware Keys to all of our potential callers can get a little pricey. What are some other options that will offer some degree of security?"

R. You could consider the CHALLENGER TT. It recognizes up to an eight-digit Touch-Tone password and you could reprogram it as necessary. This places a little more burden on the users, but they don't need the Keys.

R. The TLC is also an option. It provides security based on Caller ID. Your users wouldn't even have to know. You could program up to 50 authorized CIDs into it. It will also recognize the hardware Keys if you have some mobile users that may require them.

C. "I want to insure that any user calls me to get permission to access our system."

R. There are several ways to accomplish this. The most obvious is with a CAS. That is what it was built for. You could also use a SP-RRC to power On the remote modem or even a K-RRC. It is a rebooting device, but you could just use it's security aspect. Basically the caller will call you first. If you have a programmer attached to the line and the caller has a Key, the Key will be reprogrammed during the initial call. You then call the K-RRC with your programmer to program it to match the Key. This is really quite simple all you really need to do is flip one dip switch then place the call and the hardware does the rest. (See Tech Tips Monitoring Vendor Access.)

C. "This idea of keeping things turned OFF when you are not using them is becoming more popular in the security industry. Are you perusing anything in that area?"

R. You are preaching to the choir. This "age old wisdom" has recently been rediscovered. We have a number of products that can accomplish that requirement. Most are listed under our Rebooting Products. Since we make both security products and the remote rebooting products, a lot of the secure authentication aspects are also incorporated into the remote power ON/OFF products. There are a number of different products and features that can be combined to meet a number of different objectives. They range from simply turning power ON/OFF to a single modem to products that can control the AC power to hundreds of different machines in a building.

C. "I saw some methods to attack my software security on the Internet... and they work. I need something else quick!"

C. "We have customer's information on our system. We found out that we are liable for it. My boss said get something NOW!"

C. "One of our guys quit and has his PC and all of our passwords. I don't trust him. I disconnected all of my modems. Can you ship me something overnight that works right out of the box with no learning curve?"

R. Yes to the previous three comments. The CHALLENGER LOCKS; plus we can drop ship the KEYs to your users.

C. "We are way behind in our schedule. We need some protection for our access server now!.. until we get a better grasp on the security part of our software, besides somebody said it didn't work anyway... full of bugs... an after thought. We'll probably never get to it."

R. Put some CHALLENGERS on the system now. If you ever get to the software, the CHALLENGER will only make it that much more secure.

C. "Our dial back modems only handle 10 dial back numbers. I never thought we would get to this point, but we now have four modems and over 30 users. It's a real juggling act."

C. "We provide a national on-line service and I don't want to pay toll charges for the return call with dial back modems."

C. "The administration of dial back numbers is a hassle, it seems that someone is always moving or being added or changed. I went nuts when they changed our area code. Still getting complaints."

C. "Our dial back modems don't address our mobile sales force. What do you have?"

R. CHALLENGER hardware KEYs will address the previous four comments and without driving your road warriors crazy.

C. "Sometimes the modems don't train at their highest rate on the dial back. I don't know why and I don't care. Some times it requires several tries. It takes too long. What's your suggestion?"

R. CHALLENGERS of course, to all of the above. They will allow or not allow the connection on the first call. No callbacks, retraining, busy lines, etc.

C. "How can I get my home PC to dial me back?"

R. Install an SP-RRC switch and a power strip. Call the SP-RRC and enter a Touch-Tone password and 'power on' command. Hang up and the PC will dial you back, if configured correctly, at a predefined number. The SP-RRC can also share the same home telephone line.

C. "We use dial modems to manage all of our networks. Anyone can dial in and reconfigure or monitor them."

C. "We have maintenance ports on a number of different products. We need an overall solution to secure them. Right now, they basically have no security on them at all."

C. "I heard that the passwords for the maintenance port on our phone system has been leaked. I want to buy a solution for our maintenance company. It's our money. If we get burned, we pay."

R. Your right. Put some CHALLENGER LOCKs on the maintenance ports and give your maintenance company a KEY. It will allow them access to your system on a secure basis while being transparent to them when accessing other systems. Look at the CHALLENGER P2 BAS (Bi-level Access System). It was originally designed for outside maintenance firms.

C. "We have some patient monitoring equipment that is accessed by dial modems that we want to further protect. It's pretty hard to reconfigure it, but it could be a critical health situation."

R. CHALLENGER LOCKS and KEYs will protect it. Plus it makes for a better argument in court, should something ever happen.

C. "These maintenance ports are getting out of hand. Suddenly, it dawned on me how many we have and how many companies (people) have access to our system."

R. You are right, the growth of maintenance ports is exploding. As such they are also becoming a favorite path of entry for hackers and other pests. Plus, to save phone lines one modem may provide access to several different machines. Our 232-PORT SHARING SELETION SWITCH addresses this development. It requires a hardware KEY on the caller's modem before they can gain access to the modem. Then, a rotary switch on the KEY provides automatic access to the RS-232 port to which they wish to connect. You can also program the KEY to only allow access to selective ports so different groups only have access to their own ports.

On this same subject we also have another product, the MODEM ROUTER SWITCH (MRS), that provides the same port selection options except that they are modem ports instead of RS-232 ports.

C. "We only have one maintenance port to access, but we don't want to put in a separate telephone line for it. What's the answer?"

R. The FTS is a $225.00 solution. It will allow you to share a line. The normal calls go to it's default port. It also has two alternate ports that the caller can access through a touch-tone password and port selection. You can also get an AC power strip that can be controlled with the same call.

C. "I heard that these maintenance techs often move to different companies and often try to sabotage some of the accounts of their previous employers."

R. That's true. The bottom line is that they are just people that are working for these maintenance firms. But internal or external sabotage have the same results. That is why you should insist that your maintenance modems be protected. Most often, the maintenance companies don't care for this because it impedes their access and requires additional effort to administer security. But it's your money.

C. "We have about 30 servers across the country. We automatically dial them at night to upload and download files. They also have occasion to dial us during the day. I noticed, from our logs that the lines are busy sometimes and sometimes the servers are hung up. We use passwords and authorization codes, but it kind of worries me to leave those modems "open" all of the time."

R. Add the CHALLENGER P2 to your modems. Adding the hardware will increase your software security a thousand times. They will prevent unauthorized callers from crashing your system or even stealing the data. One of the nice features about the Challengers is that you don't have to have anyone attending them when a call is made. Cost is $79.00 each.

Challenger P2 Diagram

C. "The P2 Lock and Key concept is quite flexible, but suppose someone steals a lock and uses it as a key to call other locks?"

R.That's the trade off, flexibility vs. security, but we can prevent the Locks from making outbound calls. Just specify it when you order them.

C. "I have about 20 remote servers that I am trying to maintain remotely. I would like to secure them and selectively restrict access to their maintenance ports to various groups."

R. Look at the CHALLENGER P2 BAS (Bi-level Access System). It provides two levels of access, which is normally enough for most users. But you can also further define different groups by programming each group with a different "random number code". However, the MASTER KEY would have access to all of the groups.

Challenger P2 BAS Diagram

C. "Our doctors want to access patient histories from each of their offices as well as from home. They want the access to be secure, but don't want to go through any cumbersome sign-on rituals."

R. The CHALLENGER P2 is an ideal solution. We have them installed in a similar application in a clinic. Within the clinic they have access over the LAN but outside the office their dial access is secured by a STANDARD CHALLENGER system. Don't forget about the pharmacy and the lab, too.

C. "Our doctors our tying up our lines. They sign-on and stay on. Does your system have a max call disconnect timer?"

R. Yes, plus we are playing with the idea that the max call time can be programmed into the KEY so different KEYs can have different max call times."

C. "We had a case where the doctor's passwords were being sold and used for bogus prescriptions."

R. It is probably easier than stealing credit card numbers.

C. "We run an emergency response system. We want to verify the ID of the caller. No time for sign-on codes."

R. We have incorporated Caller ID into some of our products. This may be a solution. Look at the Telephone Line to Computer Interface (TLC).

C. "Who are you guys?"

R. We have been around for over 20 years. Primarily building communication products. We built our first dial security product for a branch of the U.S. military over six years ago. They apparently didn't care for any of the products that were on the market at the time and definitely did not want to rely solely on a software password solution. Their specs were quite stringent... minimal caller interaction, no batteries, or touch keypad cards. In fact, they wanted unauthorized calls to be defeated before the modems could even train and without human interaction. I guess when you're inside the Washington Beltway; you become a target for every random "kook" with a modem and a war dialer. No telling how many of them are running at any time: scanning for modems. In any event, that solution became our first dial security product. We still call it the "STANDARD CHALLENGER". Since then we have applied the "Challenge Response" technology to a number of other smaller dial security products and incorporated it into some of our newer switching devices.

C. "What makes your products better than the other guys?"

R. Probably it's the way that we have blended ease of use with a level of effectiveness. It is current technology that was simply not available several years ago. Our products are deceptively simple to use and maintain and the price is right too. One of the attendees at a recent Open Systems Conference in Orlando stopped by the booth, reviewed the products, and comments that they were not "geekie" enough for her. That was one of the best complements she could have given us and that about sums up the designs objectives of the product line.

C. "Why haven't I heard of you?"

R. I don't know. We do some advertising, but this is a low profile type of market and you have to respect your customer's privacy. It seems as though a lot of this type of equipment is recommended by consultants. Since dial security is not the hot issues of the time, they don't seem to keep on top of it. Instead they fall back on concepts that they are familiar with that were developed 10 years ago, these "security experts" are a pretty close knit group. Several fortune 500 companies use our products as well as a myriad of smaller companies.



Computer Peripheral Solutions, LLC
5295 Webb Parkway NW
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This file last modified March 6, 2012