Security

Secure your networks beyond the basics from the dangers of cyberspace


Believe it or not, Estonia is one of Europe's most wired countries and has been dealing with a massive attack on their digital infrastructure for over a month. This attack illustrates the dangers inherent in a digital world, and those dangers are ever present and spread throughout the world. Of course, governments the world over are studying these attacks as they happen so that they can (hopefully) provide ways to avoid these attacks or perhaps even counterattack. The Internet also provides a vehicle for people to get famous even if they never try, as illustrated by the story of pole vaulter Allison Stokke, whose pictures circulated around the 'net even as she tried to have them removed.

Danger in cyberspace (Hamilton Spectator)

These cases show the wide variety of dangers and opportunities created by our new technologies. From Internet stalking to spyware and trojan horse infections, the potential for mischief or criminal activity is at a troublemaker's fingertips. Recently, an Internet attack ad was unleashed when a parody of the 1984 Apple Super Bowl commercial portrayed Hilary Clinton as Big Brother and propped challenger Barack Obama up as a better choice for the Democratic party nomination. The same technology that allows for an 18-year-old high school student to become the target of stalkers across the world also allows an individual to put a different spin on a political campaign.

Allison Stokke Hits the Front Page of the Washington Post (AOL)

Widespread Internet Attack Cripples Computers with Spyware (PC World)

Source behind Internet attack on Clinton revealed (CNN)

Personally, I am a huge fan of new technologies, they have given me a career that I enjoy, games that are more engaging (and easier to play alone) than Risk or Axis and Allies, and the ability to easily share my children's childhoods with my father even though he lives thousands of miles away. Unfortunately, I will soon need to restrict or police my children's use of the Internet (they are 1 and 3, so the older one only knows how to navigate pbskids.org) in order to minimize their exposure to dangerous people and my home network's exposure to malware, spyware, viruses, and the other threats that they will not know how to avoid for years.

These same issues crop up in the workplace as the people who use our networks go out into the wild, wild 'net and download everything our policies, procedures, and URL filters will allow. Of course, no matter how much we try to educate our users as to the threats out there, they always seem to think that those smilies they download are worth the two hours of downtime while the spyware filter runs. Most corporations are fairly well protected by virus scanning software and firewalls, but many businesses and schools simply do not have the resources to bring in options like URL filters, spyware scanners, or even IDS systems.

How do you secure your networks beyond the basics (anti-virus and firewalls)? Do you use URL filters or does your business see them as "too intrusive" (the reason we have been given in academia for years) in filtering out "suspect" sites? What kind of IDS/IPS solution do you use, and how effective has it been in identifying breaches or attempted breaches in security? What kind of technologies do you use at home to duplicate this functionality on your own network? Join the discussion.

4 comments
michael_orton
michael_orton

CYBERSPACE IS today's Wild West. Cyberspace is just like the old, mostly fictional Wild West. No real Sheriffs, no effective Law. "There are no speed bumps or police on the Information Superhighway." This is for real, not the rubbish that we get from HTCUs and IT security firms. So as in a real world situation, the only way to deal with any attack is a MASSIVE, Excessive, counter attack. In general people will only stop doing something that you don't like if you can cause them pain. Every network or buisiness should have a Linux Attack PC to "take down" attackers. DDOS attacks should never be used, the aim is to trash the attackers O/S so that they have to reinstall, or at least hide behind their firewalls! You need a largal warning on your site to this effect.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Let's get virus behind us.

Andy J. Moon
Andy J. Moon

I have been notoriously lax about security at home for some years now as I educated my wife about the smilies (and other scams) that offer something for nothing. We use AVG anti-virus and a Linksys firewall and that is pretty much it. At work, we have very little aside from the basic firewall (Cisco PIX) and anti-virus (Symantec) protection. We use a spyware scanning solution for a reactive approach to adware and spyware, but cannot implement an IDS/IPS as a result of the cost of such systems. We also cannot implement a URL filter because (in addition to the cost) we have a Health Sciences department that needs wider access to some resources and they have been resistant to any type of filtering at all. In fact, the only site we filter is Myspace, and the students who want to go there just use an open proxy. What options do you use at home? At work?

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