Thought for the day: Stamp out risk

Infosecurity Europe 2004 starts this week, and Simon Moores hopes that companies and individuals have learned their lesson after...

Simon Moores  

As Infosecurity Europe 2004 starts this week, Simon Moores hopes that companies and individuals have learned their lesson after last year's plethora of viruses.

 

 

A large balloon floats over West London, pointing the way to this week’s Infosecurity Show at Olympia, carrying with it the faint hope of better information security in 2004 than was available a year earlier.

In the past six months, Microsoft’s constant patching process has improved almost out of recognition, but the broader vulnerability problem among the population remains a serious cause for concern.

While larger businesses have invested significantly in every aspect of network security, the evidence of the most recent surveys from the DTI and others suggests that smaller SME and consumer customers continue to ignore the risks and the messages and take inadequate content security measures.

However, investment alone doesn’t offer a silver bullet in the fight against computer crime. This year’s 2004 DTI survey expresses real concern that businesses without the right monitoring and intrusion prevention processes in place may be operating under a false level of comfort, in that scanning and hacking activity may not be detected until it is too late to react.

While 72% of businesses expressed confidence in their technical processes and ability to prevent or detect security breaches, the research speculates that on the evidence, such confidence might be misplaced

Many IT professionals believe that Linux is more secure than Windows, encouraging them to consider introducing the Linux OS when they might not have done in the past, but the true picture of what works best and what doesn’t remains complicated. The platform diversity suggestion offered by Gartner last October has yet to find any popular following and more effort appears to be concentrated on "hardening" existing environments than introducing new ones.

After collecting a year's worth of vulnerability data, Forrester Research has concluded that both Windows and four key Linux distributions can be deployed securely with key metrics that include responsiveness to vulnerabilities, the severity of vulnerabilities, and efficiency in fixing flaws

Risk, and the part it plays in the wider information security picture, is where the real action appears to be this year. The challenge of embedding security and designing out risk has emphasised the critical importance of perimeter security as a first line of defence against attack in a much wider, distributed security model, which embraces client, server and the extended network.

Many companies have finally realised that a managed firewall is where security starts.  There is an emphasis on a more complete security approach, one that includes a firewall and embraces anti-virus, security policy and many different solutions capable of integrating dynamically with network directories and authentication servers and known as Intrusion Prevention Systems.

Finally, one of the best security tools I’ve seen in 2004 so far is a book from Microsoft, titled Protect yourself online. My own recommendation for a peaceful year ahead is for the company to make it available to anyone who wants it at cost.

It might even knock Harry Potter off the bestseller list, but if it helps better secure the wide-open consumer broadband and SME sector in any way, then the rest of us in business will feel the benefits.

Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.

Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of eGovernment and information security .

For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit www.zentelligence.com

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