- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2000

A Fairfax, Va., computer-security company will get $35 million from Japanese investors to expand U.S. operations and open an Asian subsidiary.

Infrastructure Defense Inc., a computer-intelligence firm that guards businesses against cyber-threats, will get the investment from a group of companies led by Itochu Corp., a Japanese aerospace, electronics and multimedia firm.

The new Japan-based computer-security firm will be a joint venture of the Itochu-led group and Infrastructure Defense. Itochu and other Asian investors will hold a 75 percent equity stake in the Japanese company. Itochu, a massive company with 1,027 subsidiaries, also will own an estimated 10 percent of Infrastructure Defense Inc.

The Asian subsidiary will let Infrastructure Defense provide around-the-clock surveillance and give North American clients an early-warning system about computer threats from targeted hacker attacks to random viruses like the "love bug," which struck in May and originated in the Philippines.

"Following the sun is a nice idea," Infrastructure Defense Chief Executive James Adams said.

The "love bug" virus spread with amazing speed through e-mail networks as computer users unwittingly forwarded it to all correspondents listed in their e-mail address books when they opened an attachment on messages with "ILOVEYOU" in the subject line.

At least 270,000 U.S. computers were infected the day the virus struck.

Damage was high, partly because of a lack of notice, critics said, and the computer bug caught federal investigators off guard. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Infrastructure Protection Center, which heads the federal government's computer-security and notification effort, didn't post a notice about the virus on its Web site until 12 hours after the virus began spreading by e-mail in Asia.

That's what Infrastructure Defense hopes to guard against by establishing a global presence.

Because viruses can originate from anywhere, computer security efforts have become global operations, said Steve Trilling, director of research at the anti-virus research center of Symantec Corp., the Santa Monica, Calif., company that makes Norton anti-virus software.

"We used to see a lot of viruses from Eastern Europe and Asia. But since the Melissa virus [in March 1999], they've started coming from everywhere. Because the Internet is everywhere and because it's easy to get on the Internet, the virus community is very broad now," Mr. Trilling said.

Computer-security experts have identified about 50,000 viruses.

Unlike random viruses, the number of targeted attacks against companies remains relatively small, Mr. Trilling said.

But there's concern they will increase, he said.

Mr. Adams said that after the expansion is completed in February, Infrastructure Defense, founded in 1998, will have about 100 employees. Currently, the U.S. operation employs 55 persons, and a European office that the company opened this year employs six.

Mr. Adams said Infrastructure Defense, a private company, plans to have its initial public offering next year. The company is not yet profitable.

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