For rent, security included

Lawrence M. Walsh, News Writer

Secure Internet connectivity may one day become a standard option like electricity and heat in commercial leases. At least that's the belief of Steven Vaughn, president of Texas National Bank.

When the bank expanded its Houston headquarters, it leased excess space to a marketing company, and included a secure Internet connection.

The added option allowed Texas National to charge 20 cents more per square foot in the competitive Houston real estate market. "If you're a bank and if you're in the rental business, that's a way to enhance what you have to offer," Vaughn says.

Both companies maintain separate domain controllers that tap into the same T1 line. Network Box, a managed security service based in Hong Kong, guards the gateway with its Rackmount appliance, which includes firewall, intrusion detection, antivirus and content filtering.

"I'm surprised that more ISPs aren't doing this," Vaughn says.

Network Box may be on the leading edge of a new trend. James Apple, the company's CEO, says the Texas National deal is a first for his company, but he has since received similar inquiries from others that sublet or develop commercial space.

"Why not sell secure Internet services to strip malls and high-rise buildings?" says Apple. "We're even talking to a housing developer in Utah."

While this might be a bright idea for owners of smaller facilities, execution on grander scales -- say, in multiuse buildings or for tenants with distributed employees --

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may prove more difficult.

So far, Texas National remains a unique experiment.

This article originally appeared in the May issue of Information Security magazine.

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