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S21Sec's international director, "We'd show our customers a list
of passwords and e-mails. We could get into a company in Spain
and fill up planes with passengers, change the price of tickets,
everything that involves attacking the infrastr ucture."
Today S21Sec specializes in anti-phishing and anti-malware
software and rescues information that was stolen from customers.
They also perform digital sur veillance, trolling the Internet in a
variety of languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese and
Arabic, to unearth all the information that the Internet provides
on their clients' companies or issues.
Bernardo Quintero, founder of the security company Hispasec,
says he never planned on founding a company, but his interest in
computers began early. When he was 16, his computer became
infected for the first time with a vir us, "so I programmed a virus
detector to prevent it from happening again."
"With the arrival of the Internet, I became interested in security
in general," he says. He started by writing a column on security
for a Spanish PC magazine. That turned into a website---His-
pasec---which Quintero created with other experts
in the field to provide daily updates on issues of
Internet security. Hispasec's writers became national
experts in the field, and companies began to request
consultation and security audits from them, "so we
were basically obliged to create the company to sat-
isfy the demand," according to Quintero.
Hispasec engineers have developed programs to
detect vulnerabilities, penetrate a company's infor-
mation boundaries, and combat phishing and trojan
malware that attempts to hijack computer systems. In 2004, they
also developed a service called VirusTotal, a free service that
allows the analysis of any file using multiple antivirus programs.
"With VirusTotal, we've classified more than 20 million examples
of malware, and it continues to grow at an astounding rate," he
says. This knowledge has brought the company unexpected ben-
efits: says Quintero, "Because we have such a huge library of mal-
ware, we were able to become a specialized laboratory for trojan
malware, which robs bank users of their personal infor mation."
Security also played a key role in the development of Gesfor's
Educa project, an online education management tool currently
serving millions of users---teachers, students, and parents---in
Madrid and in other regions around Spain. Gesfor, which pro-
vides IT ser vices around the world, created Educa in cooperation
with the local government to provide ongoing infor mation about
assignments, due dates, and grades, allowing parents and teachers
to follow a student's progress. This project builds on Gesfor's
experience managing infor mation systems, human resources, and
security for banks, airlines, and the tourism sector.
"Because Educa is used by a lot of young people, the security
side of the project was also very important, and we're implement-
ing security functionality that we've developed in house," says
Jaime del Rey, Gesfor's chief technical officer.
CARING FOR THE SICK
Experience in security technology has provided the basis for many
companies to expand into the growing health-care sector. Spain has
universal health care, decentralized among its 17 regions. National
identity cards are expected to facilitate the system's transfer to elec-
tronic records, and security is key in managing electronic health
But security is only one potential application for information
technology companies in the health-care sector. A number of
Spain's most prominent IT companies saw the burgeoning of
computerized and online health-care management as a business
Telvent, which specializes in information technology and ser-
vices around the world, began branching into health care ser vices
five years ago. The original products included IT developed for
health care, such as customer information systems; those systems
have been applied to managing centralized health records of mil-
lions of people in Spain and in the Dominican Republic and are
now being introduced in Chile, Peru, and Brazil.
Telvent saw an opportunity to apply its experience in digital
imaging to health-care specialization as well. The digital-imaging
technology was originally developed for national identification
cards in order to recognize patterns in documents and photo-
graphs and to screen noncitizens.
"For radiology, it's more or less the same. You have to work
with graphic libraries in order to recognize certain patterns, such
as diseases," says Adolfo Borrero, Telvent's health-care and pub-
lic administration vice president. This imaging technology is in
use in the Dominican Republic for telemedicine. Looking to the
future, company engineers are developing three-dimensional soft-
ware that will build an image from thin photo slices of a patient's
body; the 3-D image will assist surgeons in planning operations.
Indra, another major Spanish IT company, has capitalized on
its experience in managing transportation and traffic control to
develop a health-care product that integrates all the infor mation
for a given patient within the health-care system.
The newest system also includes infor mation on a patient's social
and occupational life. "It's a complete health record, not just a
clinical record," says José Cubelos, Indra's health sector director.
"Health-care expenses are growing, we have an older popu-
lation, there's an increase in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes,"
"The challenge here is to be able to
connect and put in place the different
processes for the providers of health-
care services and the patient."
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