Rarely a day goes by without a high profile security breach making the industry headlines. McAfee put the global cost of data breaches at pound 700Bn ($980Bn). A recent virus attack struck down three London hospitals their computers had anti-virus software but it had been incorrectly configured, allowing an old virus in through a backdoor. The increase in data stealing malware (malicious software) is also very alarming and can attack the most diligent users. So, how can we protect our business from hackers, malware or viruses?
A few years ago one of my friends accidentally connected a laptop directly onto their ADSL modem to surf the web. The laptop had no security software. After less than an hour it had come to a standstill with almost 150 viruses and malware infections. I spent almost seven hours rescuing the laptop along with the data (no backup!).
You may think this is a rare case and not something that will affect you. I have to admit this is an extreme case; however, a single virus attacks on one computer may spread across many or all of your computers in minutes. One in twelve computer attacks will render network devices and services completely out of action. Our engineers have been called to several attacks where every member of staff had to be sent home while their computers were rendered completely out of action. The costs are significant due to loss of productivity of several hundred staff, IT staff costs to disinfect computers and loss of business (immediate and future).
In November last year an article in the Guardian warned computer users to be vigilant as "next Monday will be the worst day of the year for computer attacks". What does this mean in real terms? It is difficult enough to keep a close eye on incoming emails for misspelt or otherwise suspicious subject lines but this is far from ideal. Not only is it naive to think that every member of staff will be as vigilant as you are, but how do you quantify the cost of this daily distraction. Not only do we have the risk of email attacks, we also have browser attacks from infected web sites, corrupt Internet Messenger connections. It is almost impossible to stay one step ahead in IT security.
Your business computers may also be brought to a near standstill by relatively 'innocent' applications such as Skype or peer-to-peer media sites where some of your business computers may be participating in peer-to-peer networking. This also introduces copyright infringement risk I know of more than one case where a major US film company has issued a 'copyright infringement warning' to a UK company, having traced them through the Internet via their ISP. There are unlikely to be any obvious signs of this activity. As if this does not give us enough to worry about, email spam and the risk of direct attacks by hackers add to our headaches.
So, what can be done to protect our business without us having to spend all of our time attempting to police our IT infrastructure? It is obvious that only those who know the risks can develop strategies to protect against them.
Sophisticated attacks require a comprehensive security solution. This traditionally required a range of security appliances such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems but these generally required qualified IT security personnel to maintain updates virtually a full time job. In recent years these devices were combined into single Unified Threat Management appliances with automatic updates, but even these solutions had difficulty keeping pace with the demands of a fast growing threat diversity. Also, some Unified Threat Management appliances operated with cut down security signatures based on the most common attacks rather than the majority of potential attacks.
The latest generation of UTM - Next Generation Threat Management (NGTM) promise affordable premium class security for large and small business, government and education networks. NGTM appliances are designed and built specifically as a security platform providing a very comprehensive IT security solution in a box.
NGTM comprise a full range of security tools including: Firewall, Intrusion Detection/Protection, Dual Inline Anti-Virus, Anti-SpyWare, MalWare Detection, Content Inspection, Anti-Spam, Remote Access, Virtual Private Network facilities as standard.
The greatest problem for any security solution is to keep pace with the rapid onslaught of hundreds of threats every hour. Next Generation Threat Management overcomes this problem with hourly automatic updates, significantly reducing the risk of these threats and human error or oversight to your business.
Security threats pose very real risks. Business owners, directors and managers ignore them at their peril. If you make economies on your IT security, you are gambling not only with your company, but also your career and you are potentially risking litigation.
Astro Communications Ltd, a UK based network communications engineering company. Astro specialize in delivering voice, data, video and network security solutions and they are about to introduce a new energy saving service. To learn how you can reduce business costs, improve productivity and secure your network, visit: http://www.astro.co.uk