IT security has grown exponentially in the last few years, making it almost impossible to stay one step ahead of the sophisticated attacks plaguing enterprises. Network administrators do not have to face those security threats alone, thanks to online communities dedicated to assisting and educating IT managers about such issues.
Spiceworks Security Community
Case in point is the Spiceworks Community, a social site that branches out into several neighborhoods (or IT categories), including one devoted to security. The interactive environment includes source material, as well as a bulletin board that allows members to participate in Q&A in the discussion forum. Social content provides information to IT administrators who are hard-pressed to find answers to their security questions now. The security community also offers HowTos, Scripts, Resources, and other content-related elements.
The most impressive thing about the Spiceworks Community is that it is free — the only requirement is filling out a membership form. Spiceworks got involved in the community ideology to promote its line of network management products, as well as to develop a destination site for its partners to promote their wares; I believe knowing this reduces some of the paranoia that surrounds anything advertised as free on the World Wide Web, especially when it comes to IT security.
Spiceworks tools include IT Inventory and Help Desk offerings that, although not strictly designed for security management, can be used to smooth over network operations. While one can't complain about the price (the applications are free), the true power comes from the add-ons available in the Spiceworks App Center marketplace, which naturally ties back into the community.
There is extensive value to the Spiceworks security community, where free advice is abundant for IT managers trying to protect their systems from the latest threats.
Naturally, when one organization comes up with a community, others are bound to follow. Peerlyst is a recently launched destination site that touts itself as the LinkedIn of the IT security community. This network of security professionals includes some of the top CISOs around the world.
Peerlyst offers ways to make its community members' jobs easier by providing a place to find and compare security solutions, and to learn from peers' real-world experiences. Several discussion areas address questions, provide collateral, and cover the latest hot security topics.
The site also includes member-provided product reviews, which should point out the benefits and shortcomings of the most popular security products. Peer-based reviews offer a real worldview of a product, though remember that these are not professional product reviews and will be based upon a specific member's situation and experiences.
Additional online communities
Spiceworks and Peerlyst bring something new to the arena of IT communities in the form of social interaction built around security ideologies, but those sites are not the only places to delve deeper into security concerns and garner advice. Other communities worth looking into include Toolbox.com's security community, CompTIA's IT Security Community, and, of course, TechRepublic's community.
IT managers can call upon the vast infrastructure of security experts who are willing to help their peers for free in communities such as Spiceworks and Peerlyst. The keys to getting the most from these communities are to participate in multiple forums and to become active in communities that aim to resolve security issues.
The result might be an online village coming to the rescue the next time you need assistance solving an IT security problem.
Frank J. Ohlhorst is an award-winning technology journalist, author, professional speaker and IT business consultant. He has worked in editorial at CRN, eWeek and Channel Insider, and is the author of Big Data Analytics. His certifications include MCNE, MCSE, A+, N+, L+, and Security+.