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Shavlik Technologies

Shavlik Technologies aims to bolster IT confidence with vulnerability assessment and remediation tools, including patch management.

There’s no question that security has become a hot area in technology, and plenty of start-ups and major companies are eager to help companies secure their data. St. Paul-based Shavlik Technologies aims to bolster IT confidence with vulnerability assessment and remediation tools, including patch management. President and CEO Mark Shavlik talks about hackers, admins, and headache relief.

What prompted you to start Shavlik Technologies?

In 1996, I noticed a void in the computer security industry. Vendors like Microsoft and others were developing great new software systems and applications-but the products all required security. Looking at the computer industry as a whole, I felt that security was going to emerge as a more important function within IT systems. Even in the early nineties, there was a slow increase in computer attacks and hackers. Eventually, IT administrators would need a way to proactively scan networks and apply security patches quickly and easily to combat potential attacks along with maintaining general security management.

What got you personally interested in doing this work?

I’ve always been a computer guy. And the security aspect of IT development is one area that I really enjoy. There’s a little bit of the “good vs. evil” approach in our work. We see areas of weakness and help people eliminate the weaknesses before they are attacked. The more computer systems we can protect through proactive patching, the less interesting it becomes to be a hacker.

Why do you think there’s a need for your services?

Today, most companies know that they absolutely need to patch. But network admins view patching as a necessary evil and often relegate it to a low-priority, reactive task.

The key problem is that many admins patch manually–nearly impossible considering that new patches surface daily. It wastes productive IT time and money, and usually doesn’t even protect systems and networks when a worm or virus hits.

But we offer tools for proactive patch and security management, which have eliminated much of the cost, time, and effort required to actually protect systems and networks. Ultimately, proactive patch management can limit successful attacks, network and system failures, lost productivity, privacy, and security breaches and liability risk. Any argument that proactive patching is too expensive is easily put to rest after calculating the financial impact of a successful attack.

What are the largest challenges that you see in providing your service?

One of our largest challenges is just convincing people that patch management is worth the effort. Patch management has a reputation of being this big unwieldy beast, but the truth is that patch management has become simpler over the past few years and it’s no longer the nightmare it once was. IT admins need to view patch management like firewall and anti-virus software-proactive tools to help protect the network from attack. And, by using these tools up front, admins actually eliminate of lot of time and headaches from their daily jobs.

What do you see for the future of computer security?

Companies are becoming more reliant on technology and software every day, so protecting the systems and the information they hold becomes more and more critical. I think that eventually we’ll find a happy medium between software vendors who build more secure software products from the ground up, security providers like Shavlik, who help manage the ongoing security, and IT admins who proactively support and protect systems as part of their daily duties.

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