|By RealWire News Distribution||
|September 7, 2011 08:19 AM EDT||
Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of IT specialist Wick Hill Group, examines the range of Internet security threats faced by companies today and advises on how to protect against them.
How to use the Internet while staying secure has always been a concern for businesses. Over the last couple of years there have been many changes in the Internet threat scenario. Most notably there has been a significant increase in the 'access anywhere/anytime culture' with a growth in social networking, a move to convergence solutions such as VoIP, a major increase in smartphone use, a growth in cloud computing, plus the 'consumerisation' of systems (i.e. the use of personal devices for company data).
2. OVERVIEW OF INTERNET THREATS.
The range of security threats includes
* Malicious threats, such as viruses and other malware
* Fraud threats such as phishing emails, spyware and toll fraud
* Unauthorised access from hacking, data leakage, botnets, unsecured wireless, and user name/password insecurity, etc.
* Operational threats, such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, attacks on VoIP, the failure of cloud computing suppliers to secure your network, or security risks from remote workers.
* Newer threats such as social networking insecurity, web application threats, smartphone insecurity and poor security for converged voice/data applications on the network
3. HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST INTERNET THREATS
The basics that companies need to protect themselves in today's internet environment include:
Risk assessment/risk management.
A risk assessment should be carried out BEFORE implementing additional aspects of internet use, to identify the risks and determine what, if anything, needs to be done to minimise them. It is important to regularly review all security policies. Recent history has shown that it is less expensive, easier and more efficient to deploy security at the beginning of any project than to try to "backfill" it. Oh yes, and it's more secure!
Educated staff are the first and main line of defence. Staff need to be brought on board, where security is concerned. The impetus needs to come from the top and be maintained.
Staying up to date
A basic and key way of staying secure is to make sure you rapidly deploy software updates, such as operating system and browser updates. Make sure too that patches, particularly security patches, are installed as soon as available.
As a first line of defence, users should be educated to not open unknown attachments, which are a common source of viruses and spyware, and to be very cautious about clicking on any links.
Anti-virus systems should be behaviour-based and updated automatically in the background. Many anti-virus solutions also incorporate anti-spyware elements, to help cope with problems such as the theft of user names and passwords. Suppliers include Kaspersky Lab, VIPRE Business, Norton, McAfee and Symantec. Anti-spyware suppliers include Barracuda Networks and WebRoot. Free anti-spyware solutions, such as Spybot, are also available.
Firewalls are now almost universally deployed. All messages entering or leaving the network pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.
A huge range of firewalls is available today from companies such as Check Point, Nortel, Nokia and WatchGuard. Firewalls are also available as part of a unified threat management appliance (UTM) or an extensible threat management (XTM) appliance, where a firewall is combined with other security functions, including (in many cases) web application firewalling (WAF), sometimes also known as deep packet inspection (DPI).
The best way to prevent unauthorised access is through authentication.
Single factor authentication involves the use of passwords only, ranging from weak to complex. It has a number of insecurities and is highly vulnerable to the same password being used for multiple applications (including social networking), increasing the risk that your business applications security could be breached.
Strong two factor authentication comprises something you know (a password) and something you have (e.g. a hardware token, which can produce a time limited one time password, a soft token (for example a PIN sent to a mobile phone) or a swipe card). Companies including VASCO, RSA and CRYPTOCard provide strong two factor authentication solutions. While there are still risks with this approach, it provides significantly improved security at a comparatively low cost
Biometric authentication, involving personal elements such as fingerprint or iris recognition, is more appropriate for high security applications, such as financial or defence.
Remote user security
Encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs), either IPsec or SSL, are the typical solution for secure branch to head office communications, for communications between companies and third parties such as suppliers, and for secure communications between remote/mobile workers and head office/branches. This should be done, using a minimum of two-factor authentication.
Branch offices can install low-cost remote UTMs which incorporate VPNs and these can be centrally administered, typically by the head office. Companies such as WatchGuard, Check Point and NETASQ provide remote, centrally manageable IPsec and SSL VPN solutions.
Another method of securing remote and mobile users is endpoint security (EPS). Coupled with central management, it can ensure that firewall, anti-virus and security patches are used. A range of solutions is available from companies such as Check Point, GFI Software, Kaspersky Lab and Citrix.
With the growth of remote working, managing the remote worker network securely has become increasingly difficult and costly. To complicate matters, many employees are using their own PCs, laptops and smartphones to link to the company.
This carries a significant risk of these devices being infected by spyware, etc. and introduced to the network. Additionally, data on them could be unprotected. Coupled with this, there is the high cost of providing, supporting, patching and managing company supplied devices.
One solution is for the employer to give the employee an allowance to buy their own PC or laptop and to supply them with a secure, hardware encrypted flash drive with embedded security software.
This creates a secure tunnel, stronger than an SSL VPN, between the remote worker's PC and the applications on the home network. File transfer between the PC hosting the flash drive, and the corporate network, is strictly controlled. The use of applications and programmes too is subject to the applied security policy.
These types of solutions essentially provide a secure, virtual environment, irrespective of the security status of the users PC/Laptop. They include solutions from Check Point (Abra) and IronKey, as well as the different approach of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) from Citrix and VMware.
Smartphone growth presents another remote access security risk. Staff are increasingly using them to retrieve email and use other applications on the move.
But they remain largely unprotected and have the potential to put the whole network at risk through unauthorised access, particularly as they are so easily lost or stolen. Wi-Fi roaming out of the office, creates a number of security risks, including the risk of identity and security credentials being lost or stolen.
Because of the dangers, smartphones should be treated just like PCs, when it comes to securing them.
A lot can be done through carrying out a number of simple preventative actions. For example, use the PIN function to secure the phone, install data wiping facilities, employ time-out policies, and install GPS tracking so the phone can be located if stolen. Authentication to the network from smartphones is essential.
Specific smartphone security solutions are also available from suppliers such as Kaspersky Lab, Sipera, CRYPTOCard and Check Point.
The use of wireless has grown significantly in the last few years and is now endemic, with smartphones increasingly being used to connect to wireless.
Authentication is absolutely crucial in this environment and strong two factor authentication should be used for access to all confidential internal data, from wireless pcs, laptops and smartphones. Sensitive data should not be held on a smartphone or wireless laptops, unless encrypted.
IPSec or SSL encrypted VPNs should be used for all wireless communications between head office and remote locations, such as branch offices, mobile users or home workers.
When employees leave a company, and their access to wireless hasn't been managed, then the risk of them causing problems through unauthorised access is significantly increased.
Wi-Fi roaming and Bluetooth are other risks, with many users leaving their devices Wi-Fi roaming and Bluetooth-enabled. This leaves them vulnerable to attacks resulting in access to the devices and the company network, particularly if authentication is not strong enough.
If your organisation is using unencrypted wireless in the office, all the information held on your network can be at risk. If your existing solution supports WPA2 or even the discredited WEP encryption, switch it on (it will have arrived with the default off). It is a good idea to encrypt all relevant confidential files, data, internal e-mails and network attached storage (NAS).
Wireless security providers include companies such as Aruba Networks, Check Point, Ruckus, SonicWall, and WatchGuard.
Encryption (including laptop and smartphone encryption)
The easiest and most effective way of stopping sensitive and critical data being read by unauthorised personnel or outsiders is to encrypt it.
Loss or theft of data stored on laptops or smartphones is a particular problem.
However, this can be easily and inexpensively protected using comparatively low-cost encryption software for laptops from companies such as Pointsec, Utimaco and PGP, and specific mobile security software for smartphones.
The use of unified encryption management (UEM) means encryption can be easily managed across all data risk areas including desktops, laptops, PDAs, USB sticks, mobile phones and other removable media.
* Converged systems security
Security convergence is different from normal data security, because the link between phone systems and the Internet makes both voice and data more vulnerable to problems such as toll fraud and the total loss of both voice and data communications, if VoIP is hacked. However, there are security products available specifically tailored for a unified communications (UC) environment. These include solutions from Sipera, Panasonic and Samsung.
* Cloud computing/hosted systems security
If you put your network into the cloud or use hosted systems, then you are making someone else responsible for your security and need to ask your supplier a number of questions. These could include:
- what security and authentication procedures are in place for remote staff access?
- how is data secured against leakage?
- what protection is there against DDoS attacks?
- how can you guarantee your staff won't access my company's data?
- what is the service level agreement for availability and what is the recourse if it is breached?
- in what jurisdiction is my data held and stored?
4. MULTI FUNCTIONAL SOLUTIONS
Unified threat management systems (UTMs) are designed to provide a range of security solutions in a single appliance, reducing costs and simplifying the whole process of security systems management and installation. The minimum requirement for a UTM is a firewall, VPN, anti-virus and intrusion detection/prevention. Some UTMs may also provide anti-spam, web content inspection spyware protection, centralised management, monitoring, and logging capabilities.
Extensible threat management systems (XTMs) are a development of UTMs, which combine fast throughput with advanced networking features to handle high-volume traffic. They are suitable for 50-10,000 or more users.
Popular UTM and XTM solutions include those from WatchGuard, Check Point, Fortinet, Barracuda Networks and NetASQ.
Web Application Firewalling (WAF)
Web application firewalls apply rules to HTTP (essentially web server and browser) conversations. This is sometimes also known as deep packet inspection (DPI). Dedicated devices are available such as SecureSphere from Imperva, ModSecurity (open source) and the Barracuda Web Site Firewall. WAF is also included in many UTM and XTM solutions.
A variety of other multi-functional solutions, incorporating various security product mixes, is also available from companies such as Kaspersky Lab, Symantec, McAfee and Computer Associates.
The latest important IT security concerns include the increasing amount and variety of remote access, and the growing use of converged systems such as VoIP and smartphones. However, these and other ongoing security risks such as malware, fraud and data leakage, can all be adequately protected against with a strong commitment to security and the deployment of appropriate solutions.
Ian Kilpatrick is chairman of Wick Hill Group plc, specialists in secure IP infrastructure solutions for e-business. Ian has been involved with the Group for more than 30 years. Wick Hill is an international organisation supplying most of the Time Top 1000 companies through a network of accredited resellers. Contact www.wickhill.com, 01483 227600.
Ian looks at computing from a business point-of-view and his approach reflects his philosophy that business benefits and ease-of-use are key factors in IT. He has had numerous articles published in the UK and overseas press, as well as being a regular speaker at IT conferences.
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 743
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 5, 2016 03:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 5, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 684
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 5, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 325
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 5, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 317
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 510
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 5, 2016 10:15 AM EST
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 5, 2016 10:00 AM EST
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 297
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 304
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 388
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 819
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 898
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 697
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,120
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 773
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,178
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 740
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,242