Security Think Tank: Flame – proceed with caution

What can enterprise learn from initial analysis of Flame?

What can an organisation do to protect itself from malware such as Flame? One area is maintaining vigilance though imparting awareness of the issues among staff.

As with any awareness initiative, it must be continuous, not a one-off exercise. 

Such an awareness initiative must caution staff about the use of USB devices, as that is one route that malware such as Flame can enter a company's systems. For example, warn staff that only company-issued USB devices may be connected to a company PC. 

Another is about opening attachments or clicking links in e-mails from unexpected sources (are you expecting a file from a mate? No? Be cautious, call the mate and confirm before opening), manually type a URL in a browser and not click a link, be cautious about the use of shortened URLs and if in an e-mail from an unknown source, don't use. 

Be vigilant about network and server resources as high CPU or disk loading or heavy internet traffic outbound or poor network response at times of the day when not expected – these may be the only indications that your systems have been infected with malware such as Flame.

Other things a company can do is to better utilise the functionality available in operating systems, particularly for USB port control, and to put together comprehensive firewall rule sets that control outbound traffic as well as inbound traffic (e.g. only open specific outbound ports from specific machines such as proxy servers).

Peter Wenham is a committee member of the BCS Security Forum strategic panel and director of information assurance consultancy Trusted Management.

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