Security Myths, The “common knowledge” that is passed around every day is often incomplete, or completely wrong.
Fact: Viruses are not the only threat to a system. Many virus scanners do not detect spyware or adware which are now responsible for a greater percentage of the computer failures. Virus scanners also do not detect security vulnerabilities, software bugs, hack attempts, or user abuses. Virus scanners also have to be updated frequently to detect the latest threats. A new virus can spread across the world in a day.
Fact: Firewalls are necessary and provide a good layer of security. However, firewalls do not stop all threats. Typically the users inside the system have sufficient permissions to import a wide range of malicious software in to the network because they are authorized to do web downloads or e-mail. It is also common for firewall rules to be set fairly loose because of user complaints about operability.
Fact: Every system on the internet will be attacked by something. It is not just a matter of someone sitting in a basement trying to get into a single system. There are automated systems and viruses that are scanning all the internet addresses for vulnerabilities. The may be for the purpose of sending spam, stealing information, or damaging systems. Every address will get attacked in some manner. Most will be attacked every day.
Fact: Businesses now are highly dependent on their computer systems. Turn off your computer for a few hours and see what you are still able to do. What would the cost be if your network was unavailable for a day, or a week? What if you lost a month’s worth of information? What damage be to your business if you had to inform your clients that their information was stolen. The cost of security measure is insignificant in comparison to those things.
Fact: Malicious programs can be installed because of flaws in the operating system or software, or by network users. Many software packages install other components that the users and network administrators are not aware of. Most networks have unauthorized software running in them.
Fact: New threats are discovered every day. Users working in the network also change the conditions constantly. Without constant monitoring vulnerabilities will creep in.
Fact: Passwords that use a word or name can often be located in less than two hours. Used often are addresses, birthdays, or keyboard sequences that can be guessed. There are often forgotten accounts in systems that have simple or blank passwords. Often users will use the same password for internet sites as they do for their network relying on the security and honesty of whoever runs the site. Common passwords and password sharing is done in many companies. Passwords are often sent across the internet with weak or no encryption. As computers get faster it gets easier to break password security. Password authentication alone is not sufficient anymore.
Fact: A false sense of security is prevalent today because people subscribe to numerous myths about their network’s security. It is easy to look around your office and feel safe because you don’t see anything wrong. In reality most businesses do not even have the equipment and software necessary to detect the threats that are already in their network.
Though each security measure will eliminate a portion, no one solution can cover all of the threats. This makes it necessary to have several security systems, each of which will screen out what they were designed to do.
This screens out classes of traffic that have no reason to be allowed into your network. Services to be used by employees only should require extra authentication and should not be open to the general public.
These should be implemented all computers in the network, not just the servers. Any computer that is not covered could execute malicious code that could damage or compromise your network.
Many of the virus scanner companies have not treated these programs with the same urgency as viruses. As a result spyware and adware are now responsible for more computer failures than viruses.
This provides another layer of monitoring on the network to identify what other systems may have missed. Rules can be defined to identify hack attempts, suspicious activity, or user abuses. Actions or alerts can be set to deal with a situation quickly before there is a major situation.
Many problems come from the network users themselves. They can install unauthorized software, Peer to Peer programs that consume network bandwidth, visit malicious websites, send information in insecure manners or open vulnerabilities that they are unaware of. Have a clear policy of how company computers are to be used can help limit this.
Critical components should be in locked enclosures to prevent tampering or theft.
Adding a token, user certificate or biometric authentication system limits password attacks since having the password alone is not sufficient to gain access to the system.
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