An Israeli start-up has developed an innovative new credit-card sized security device that can provide Pentagon-level security to laptops when users access the Internet via hotspots, airports, and hotel rooms.

The Yoggie Gatekeeper, developed by Yoggie Security Systems, is a miniature computer that hooks up to portable computers to allow mobile and remote workers to use the net with the same security enjoyed by their counterparts in the corporate network.

“The Yoggie Gatekeeper is changing the security landscape as we know it,” says Shlomo Touboul, Yoggie’s founder and CEO. “Today corporations have excellent security, but once you leave the office you leave behind all the great security and your laptop is vulnerable to attack. We developed a tiny computer dedicated to protecting its host computer. This is a completely new concept.”

The GateKeeper, which goes on sale in the US this month, is designed specifically to protect the Windows XP platform. It is a one-stop security package that includes 13 different security programs, including firewall, a VPN client, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, four proxy systems, intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, and a security engine

An adaptive security program manages and adjusts security levels in response to each new attack, thereby eliminating the need for the end user or IT manager to alter security policies manually.

Some of the programs, such as Gatekeeper – which physically separates the security solutions and positions them on the designated hardware, were developed by Yoggie, while others were acquired through agreements.

The beauty of this solution is that it is easy to install and completely transparent to the user. There are no installations, configurations, or updates. Up to now, laptop users could only protect their machines by installing a wide range of security software onto the devices. Aside from the inevitable hassle of installing and managing this software, it also had a dramatic impact on the performance of the device.

“People are tired of adding new security software to their lap top because it’s difficult to manage, and the performance of the lap top deteriorates dramatically,” Touboul told ISRAEL21c. “We take the security software off the lap top and onto a mini computer, restoring the laptop to 100% productivity.

“This gives your laptop the same level of security that large corporations and organizations like the Pentagon, the Federal Reserve Bank, and Disney now experience in their offices but in a pocket sized form that you can travel with easily,” says Touboul.

Touboul is a veteran entrepreneur who knows a gap in the market when he sees one. Back in 1985 he founded Shani Computers, which he later sold to Intel in 1994 for $20 million. By today’s standards this doesn’t sound much, but back then it generated a lot of excitement because it was the first time a US company had come to Israel to purchase a start-up. In 2000, Touboul went on to found and manage information security company Finjan. It was during this period that he became aware of the security problem with laptop computers.

“During these years, I was in daily contact with many of the largest Fortune 1000 customers and time after time when we came to sign the contract my customers would complain that while their offices were now secure, no one had managed to solve their security problem with the laptops.”

Laptop use in the corporate world has exploded in recent years as more and more employees are working from home, or on the road. Today the sale of laptop computers has outpaced that of PCs. For many busy executives, laptops are the computer of choice.

The problem is that their security is limited. An employee who opens up his computer in a hotel room and logs onto the hotel’s wireless Internet system could be sharing that connection with another 400 guests. Everyone sits on the same infrastructure connected to the same switch. This is a significant security risk. An enterprising hacker or even just a smart user in the room below can hack into your system in no time at all. Touboul says that today most computer attacks are on traveling laptops. Yoggie masks the IP connection, and conceals the user, preventing any unwanted intrusions.

Throughout his years at Finjan, Touboul was aware of the laptop problem but did not have time to focus on it. It was only when Touboul finally left Finjan in 2005, that the opportunity arose. Touboul left Finjan in July, and three weeks later set up Yoggie.

Touboul raised $1.8 million in funding from angel investors in New York, Silicon Valley and Israel, and from US investment house, Early Bird Capital. With this cash, Touboul has completed development of the product and is now ready to introduce it to the market at the end of November, start of December.

The company already has distributors and aims to initially target the UK, US and Germany.

“We have good relationships in these countries so we can start to sell our product very quickly,” says Touboul. In the US prices will be $180 for the basic version, and $220 for the professional version. The product will also be available over the Internet.

Today Yoggie, which is headquartered near Ra’anana in Israel, employs just 14, but Touboul said employee numbers will double in the next six months. The company will also be looking for more fund raising of some $4-5 million in the year ahead, but expects to break even by the end of next year. Touboul admits that development has been relatively fast.

“We have many years of experience in the corporate domain, and we are benefiting from our knowledge of the best distribution network.”

Interest in the Yoggie GateKeeper has been high, and Touboul admits that even he has been surprised. The day before the company announced the product, there were 200 hits on the company’s web site. The next day the hits rose to 17,000, the day after to 44,000, and the day after that to 106,000.

“It is beyond what we expected,” says Touboul. “We have been bombarded by people approaching us. People are very eager to get their hands on it.”

In January, Yoggie also plans to release another version for individuals and home users, giving home PCs the same network security protection as that offered by corporations ? without the need for a central management server designed for larger enterprises. A single Yoggie GateKeeper can protect a network of up to five workstations. Touboul expects this to be just as popular as the lap top version.

“I put Yoggie on my kids computer at home and I was amazed how many attacks from Kazaa were stopped and removed,” says Touboul. “Just by adding one Yoggie I have the same protection as the Pentagon.”

Ahead there are many opportunities, says Touboul. “It’s too early to tell what directions we will go in, but once we came up with the concept of a small computer managing a big computer, there are lots of potential applications,” he says.

Touboul acknowledges that there is a great deal of excitement about the Yoggie because it answers such an obvious need. “There’s the aspect of a gadget here that everyone understands,” he explains. “This isn’t a product for Fortune 1000 companies, like Finjan was, this is for everyone, and there’s more excitement here. It’s easier for people to understand. There’s a different dynamic. It’s very rewarding. I feel we are on the cusp of something huge.”