STENNIS SPACE CENTER — Build a more secure computer that prevents unauthorized use by hackers or insider corporate or government spies, and the world will beat a path to your door.
That’s the idea behind the Sentinel Computer Security System that has been developed by Delta Security Technologies based at the Stennis Space Center. Besides serious interest from the U.S. Department of Defense, visitors from England, Saudi Arabia and other countries are making their way to South Mississippi to check out the computer system that its developers say is the most secure currently on the market.
“The computer provides an unparalleled level of data security to control classified, sensitive information,” says Danny Flint, business development director for Delta Security Technologies in Mississippi. “This prevents unauthorized users such as hackers and crackers from obtaining or destroying valuable information. The U.S. government has been unsuccessful in hacking into this system. It is the only one like it in the world, and it was invented here in Mississippi.”
Once only a matter of science fiction, information warfare (IW) is becoming a challenging reality for today’s data-intensive organizations, says Terry Flyntz, president of Delta Securities Technologies and the inventor of the Sentinel.
Flyntz said there is nothing else in the marketplace that compares to the Sentinel. It takes a different approach to security than has been used before. Security for the Sentinel is hardware based because software systems are more vulnerable and can be beat with reprogramming.
Flyntz said that it is vital for both government and private businesses to have confidence in the security of their information systems. They need a system that will effectively manage and selectively distribute different categories and classification levels of data over common networks.
The Sentinel converts a standard PC into three computers that allow a computer user to do normal desktop computer functions at three levels of security: unclassified, classified and sensitive. There are three separate and isolated trusted computing bases (TCBs) on different hard drives.
A “smart card” is used to control access to the computer’s data storage, modem and network capability at each security level. After inserting the smart card, users must type in their personal identification number (PIN) and password, and then select an allowed security profile. This information is checked against the information on the system’s micro controller and smart card. If any of the information such as the PIN or password is not correct, access is denied.
The information stored on the micro controller is totally secure since the program and data are encrypted, and the micro controller is tamper proof. A loud alarm goes off if anyone tries to tamper with or remove the micro controller.
The computer also has safeguards that prevent the copying of classified or sensitive information onto a floppy drive. Another safeguard is that the system keeps a log of everything done on the computer.
Smart cards are designed to be user friendly so they can be reprogrammed to change classification levels. Access can also be restricted by the time of day so after hours access is blocked.
Flyntz said that commonly government facilities spend a lot of money on firewalls to protect their networks from outside hackers or viruses, and those will work fairly well if used properly. But there has been far less effective protection from inside theft such as that seen by the recent FBI spy scandal. Research has shown that 66% of thefts of useful data from government facilities has been accomplished by insiders.
The Sentinel, which is being manufactured by Secured Processing Inc. at Stennis Space Center, is also unique in that it is a kit that can be installed on any brand computer that has a Pentium II, III or IV processor. Howard Computers, the computer manufacturer based in Laurel, is one of the computer companies that has been providing the Sentinel to customers.
Currently Delta is working to get National Security Administration (NSA) certification for the system, which is expected in the next few months. Contracts being negotiated with the Navy, Marine Corps and the Air Force are expected to be the first large sales of the Sentinel involving several thousands systems.
Is the Sentinel completely hack-proof?
“It is hack-proof from the software point of view, but any system can be broken into,” Flyntz. “But it would take a lot of time and the kind of resources that most people don’t have access to.”
The headquarters of Delta Securities Technology have been relocated from Alexandria, Va., to the Coast although the company will keep sales offices in Virginia. About 30 employees including Flyntz have relocated to the Coast. The company had offices here for two years prior to moving its headquarters.
“I like Mississippi. It is a good place to run a business,” Flyntz said. “I was concerned when we came down here that I wouldn’t be able to hire the technical people we needed. But that has not been a problem. We’ve been able to hire the talent that we need.”
For more information, contact Danny Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org or (228) 688-3192.
Contact MBJ staff writer Becky Gillette at email@example.com or (228) 872-3457.