Security is all about reputation

Reputation-based security systems can adapt to the ever-changing cyber security environment

Australian organizations are now more vigilant when it comes to safeguarding sensitive information. It is a necessary measure when you consider that cybercriminals are constantly devising new ways to breach business security systems, from creating new spam techniques to using popular Web 2.0 Web sites such as Wikipedia and YouTube as a front for malicious Web sites that lure users to download malware. Add to that, social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace, have an enormous impact on workplace security as use of these sites becomes more popular among employees.

In the last year, IT security vendors have reported on increasing malware across the globe. There has been the Storm Worm epidemic, an increase in attachment based stock spam in PDF, Excel and ZIP formats and Web-hosted malware in the form of fake greeting card e-mails. The goal of these is to steal online identities and make the perpetrators a fortune selling this information in the open market.

For example, in July last year it was reported that there was an increase in spam volume of approximately 25 per cent in Asia, compared to the daily average. There was also a significant increase in spam activities across the globe from the beginning of August last year, peaking at 53 per cent above July's daily average and 70 per cent above June's average. In fact, 88 per cent of all e-mail in that month was spam. Meanwhile, new zombie infections also hit a record of 380,000 cases per day.

More than ever, companies and individuals need to stay vigilant to remain protected. For companies, education is the key to ensuring employees do not unwittingly expose themselves to such threats while accessing corporate e-mail or enterprise applications from a wireless device or from working remotely from an Internet cafe.

As the workplace becomes more mobile, with companies providing employees with smart phones, PDAs and BlackBerrys, security concerns need to be kicked up a notch. The threats are very real and companies choosing to ignore this can face very adverse consequences to their networks.

Ignorance is not bliss
Thousands of mobile phones and networked handheld devices are lost or stolen each year leading to the exposure of confidential company information. If the data such as a manager's e-mail inbox or calendar full of sensitive information were obtained by a competitor, the damage can be overwhelming.

Malicious software
Although viruses, Trojan Horses and worms are familiar threats to traditional desktops and laptops, mobile devices are becoming targets, and this will only increase in time.

Unauthorized Wi-Fi access
While more employees are working remotely at Wi-Fi hotspots, such as cafes, this ad hoc wireless network connection can also lead to unauthorized device access and, yet again, access to critical company data. To make access easier or to keep costs down, Wi-Fi hotspots typically do not have any security solutions in operation at all, making them an easy target for cybercriminals.

Illicit network penetration
Mobile devices can be a strategic way of infiltrating protected corporate systems. Once an attacker gains access to the mobile device, it can impersonate the legitimate user, making access to the corporate network a breeze.

Unauthorized device connectivity
An employee connecting a personal device via Active Sync to the company's Exchange server may bypass security settings and applications required on a corporate device.

A Holistic Security Approach
Enterprise network security is the approach to keep the bad guys out. Potential vulnerabilities are everywhere - both inside and outside the network - making perimeter defence alone inadequate to address threats associated with an application intensive enterprise environment.

Internet and e-mail use are pervasive in all businesses and need specialized, application specific security approaches to ensure they are not compromised by malware from the outside or by costly data leakage or policy breaches from the inside. These abilities need to be fully integrated on purpose-built appliances, with local application awareness and a real-time understanding of the global Internet for the purpose of making security relevant decisions.

Protection at the gateway level has benefits from securing network access, protecting Internet-facing applications, blocking viruses, spyware and spam, and creating a forensic-quality audit trail for regulatory compliance and reporting.

Important characteristics of an enterprise gateway solution include:

- Proactive anticipation of threats to tackle them before they cause damage.
- Integration across devices and protocols in order to provide the broad protection necessary in today's ever-changing environment.
- Bi-directional inspection of incoming and outgoing traffic.
- Multi-layered defence that incorporates multiple security techniques to ensure a complete blanket of security coverage.
- Real-time global intelligence providing a system that is an active participant in the mutual sharing of real-time security intelligence.

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