Corporate network visibility key to emerging security risks, says Lancope

IT consumerisation, internal threats and the rise of social media are among the top business concerns for 2011, according to network security firm Lancope.

IT consumerisation, internal threats and the rise of social media are among the top business concerns for 2011, according to network security firm Lancope.

Apart from the most tightly controlled government environments, this is true of all large enterprises, said Adam Powers, chief technology officer at Lancope.

"Most big enterprises are being pushed by employees to use their own devices and social networking sites, and have to deal with the security risks," he told Computer Weekly.

The arrival of consumer devices in the corporate network environment is changing the way businesses think about securing the corporate network, said Powers.

"Perimeter-based defenses such as firewalls and intrusion prevention aren't enough anymore as these are easily bypassed. Corporations must think about how they will deal with smartphones and other consumer-oriented mobile devices," he said.

The rise of social media has also introduced an entirely new attack surface.

With all these new threats, organisations are increasingly asking for better visibility of what is going on in their corporate networks, said Powers.

One way of doing this, he said, is collecting the data flow information from the NetFlow technology built into all Cisco routers and switches.

"While this will not prevent unauthorised access, the data can be analysed and audited to give a complete picture of what users are doing across the network," said Powers.

Data flow information is becoming increasingly available from other network technology suppliers that can be passed on to third-party analysis systems.

Where network suppliers have not enabled data flow, Lancope has developed plug-in appliances to collect and forward this information.

Once an organisation has established a baseline, it is easy to identify anomalous activity and carry out forensic investigations, said Powers.

"A store of all NetFlow information provides a complete audit trail, which organisations such as AirTran Airways in the US use to meet the audit requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)," he said.

According to Powers, up to 400 universities are using Lancope's NetFlow analysis tools to gain visibility of their networks and prioritise security risks.

"Out of tens of thousands of users, Lancope's concern index flags up which users could have potentially the greatest impact on the network," he said.

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