A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:

Share story

What: Napera Networks, Mercer Island

Who: Todd Hooper, 42, founder and CEO

Mission: Promote healthy computer networks for small and medium-sized companies.

Plug and play: Napera attempts to translate large services into small environments. “People are looking for something easy to use,” Hooper said of his customers. “Large corporations are required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for security, and they get an 1,800-page menu that takes two weeks to understand. We can just plug in our system and it is running in 10 minutes.”

The velvet rope: Keeping a network healthy depends partly on whom you let in. Napera’s system, which consists of a small hardware appliance controlled by software, checks out each computer that attempts to log on to the corporate network with regard to viruses, spyware and Trojan horses. If the computers are clean, they can gain access to whatever data they are authorized to see. Otherwise, they are prevented from spreading their virtual diseases.

Gracious host: Informing a guest — or a client — that their machine isn’t safe can lead to some awkward social situations. “People come into your office and expect to use the network in the same way they would get a cup of coffee or use the bathroom,” Hooper said. “They come off the street and expect to connect, just like in Starbucks. We offer companies a flexible way to treat these people.”

Employees: Thirteen full time; six contractors.

Financials: The venture-funded company has yet to ship its first product, so profitability is down the road.

Raise the ante: Hooper said the stakes have increased. “Fifteen years ago security was pretty serious, but the most that someone could do to you would be to deface your Web site,” he said. “But today it is much more critical. There is organized crime trying to steal your data, which can be monetized. They can take credit-card numbers, or your customer database, which can be life or death for your company.”

— Charles Bermant