Eight security New Year’s resolutions for network managers
2008 is expected to continue the 2007 trend of increasing size, scope, and concentration of attacks on computer networks nationwide. Attacks are increasingly more targeted as malware, worms, and other malicious code to bypass simpler, more traditional network security systems. The year 2008 will likely see even greater emphasis on specific attack methods such as cross-site scripting, application-level attacks, and more client-side compromises. Security experts see significant new trends including “super worms” and XPATH injection attacks on the horizon.
SaaS provider Perimeter eSecurity presents this top eight 2008 New Year’s resolutions any diligent network manager should make and keep in the year ahead:
1. Implement Comprehensive Patch Management: Often some of the most sensitive data are on non-Microsoft systems such as Linux, UNIX or Macintosh. Invest in a patch management solution offering full visibility into your network and covering all operating systems and vendors, not just Microsoft.
2. Conduct Employee Security Awareness Training: Raising the awareness level of employees through mandatory, monthly online courses is a terrific way to remind them that security is everyone’s responsibility. Choose a training program that offers up-to-date courses, ensures users understand policies and procedures, and provides reporting to management.
3. Utilize Host-based Intrusion Prevention Systems (HIPS): Threats now bypass network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) using encryption, packet fragmentation, packet overlap, and encoding. Consider host-based intrusion prevention (HIPS) which can monitor your system looking for anomalous behavior, applications attempting to be installed, user escalation, and other non-standard events.
4. Perform Network, Operating System and Application-level Testing: Most organizations perform basic external network and operating system vulnerability testing, which identifies many Internet exposures. It is important to perform testing at the application level because these attacks are becoming much more prevalent, but if caught early, can reduce major exposure.
5. Employ URL Filtering: Organizations that still allow employees to browse the Web freely should understand and confront the risks of doing so. In addition to potential legal and reputational concerns, Web browsing opens a large window to viral attacks. A better alternative proactively manages sites where employees are allowed to surf, limiting them to safe, approved sites from reputable web publishers.
6. Centralize your Desktop Protection: Desktop anti-virus has become an expected standard on most computers systems which is fundamentally good news. If you manage these systems individually, however, you may get unprotected systems and exposure. Make sure you have centralized management and reporting.
7. Enforce a Robust Policy Management System: For some, policy management means enforcing complex passwords that change regularly. For others, it is restricted access from the “administrator” controls on a workstation. Still others think this is a way of reporting on anti-virus updates, patch levels, and operating system service pack levels. Implement a robust policy management system which includes all of the above at a minimum.
8. Adopt an Extrusion Management Solution: Sensitive data leaks from organizations every day. This is often a result of employees sending emails. An extrusion management solution keeps sensitive data inside the network. Take the first step which might simply be an email content filtering solution that will allow you to monitor for sensitive data being sent through simple mail transfer protocol.