As our world becomes more connected to technology, so do the threats that can harm your small business. 2008 is expected to continue the 2007 trend of increasing size, scope, and concentration of attacks on computer networks nationwide. Attacks are increasingly more targeted as malware, worms, and other malicious code to bypass simpler, more traditional network security systems. Security experts like Perimeter eSecurity see significant new trends including “super worms” and other threatening attacks on the horizon.
“The idea of layered security has never been more crucial than it will be in 2008,” said Kevin Prince, Chief Security Officer, Perimeter eSecurity. “We expect an array of threats, both external and internal, which can only be met with a combination of layered security solutions,” he says. “In most network environments, security solutions are often misapplied, absent, or not comprehensive enough to stop the serious, credible intruder. This can lead to unacceptable levels of risk. The easiest and most affordable way to obtain a truly layered security approach and optimal risk profile is by accessing these services on demand from a reputable service provider, preferably one who is fully audited by highly regarded independent third parties.”
To protect computer networks from compromise, here are the top eight 2008 New Year’s resolutions any diligent network manager should make and keep in the year ahead:
1. Implement Comprehensive Patch Management: Often some of the most sensitive data are on non-Microsoft systems such as Linux, UNIX or Macintosh. Invest in a patch management solution offering full visibility into your network and covering all operating systems and vendors, not just Microsoft.
2. Conduct Employee Security Awareness Training: Raising the awareness level of employees through mandatory, monthly online courses is a terrific way to remind them that security is everyone’s responsibility. Choose a training program that offers up-to-date courses, ensures users understand policies and procedures, and provides reporting to management.
3. Utilize Host-based Intrusion Prevention Systems (HIPS): Threats now bypass network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) using encryption, packet fragmentation, packet overlap, and encoding. Consider host-based intrusion prevention (HIPS) which can monitor your system looking for anomalous behavior, applications attempting to be installed, user escalation, and other non-standard events.
4. Perform Network, Operating System and Application-level Testing: Most organizations perform basic external network and operating system vulnerability testing, which identifies many Internet exposures. It is important to perform testing at the application level because these attacks are becoming much more prevalent, but if caught early, can reduce major exposure.
5. Employ URL Filtering: Organizations that still allow employees to browse the Web freely should understand and confront the risks of doing so. In addition to potential legal and reputational concerns, Web browsing opens a large window to viral attacks. A better alternative proactively manages sites where employees are allowed to surf, limiting them to safe, approved sites from reputable web publishers.
6. Centralize your Desktop Protection: Desktop anti-virus has become an expected standard on most computers systems which is fundamentally good news. If you manage these systems individually, however, you may get unprotected systems and exposure. Make sure you have centralized management and reporting.