Enterprise security on a small business budget

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I've audited networks with IT managers who were quite proud that they update their antivirus signatures every 5 minutes, but they had critical servers with stock versions of Internet Explorer and Adobe, and missing OS patches from 2007! Some reports have claimed that the success of the attack on Google was due to an employee using an outdated Web browser.

Just last week, Google announced that they would be dropping IE 6 as a supported browser from their Google Apps and Google Docs services. When manufacturers release newer, more secure versions of software (I'm looking right at you, Internet Explorer 6 and 7 users), upgrade to the latest version. The 5 minutes that you spend watching the installation progress bar is well worth it in terms of the security provided by such newer technologies.

Hardware needs updating, too. Inventory your hardware and check up on firmware updates (just as important as software patches). Twice a year, look on manufacturer Websites for any hardware with a network port--not just your routers and switches, but also your multifunction copiers, your restaurant POS terminals, your Blu-ray player, your PBX, and your Twitter-enabled coffee pot.

Don't Let Bob Stop You From Running a Secure Network

Customers often claim that their servers aren't patched because "Bob says so" and he is the Dev Manager or the VP of Sales, and their custom application won't run on the latest service pack or requires an ancient Web browser with all security features disabled. This is an unacceptable business risk in my opinion. If a particular division within the company runs software that precludes them from running the latest security patches, IT needs to isolate those servers in your network the way that it would segregate classified networks from unclassified networks.

Furthermore, unpatched servers should never have access to the Internet. Staff should access these dangerously unpatched servers only via dedicated computers (not the same ones that are used to read e-mail and browse the Internet) on a dedicated "less secure" network.

Unless businesses take information security seriously, they cannot avoid information theft and costly outages. Jars of peanut butter that have a small chance of being tainted are pulled off store shelves within hours of a recall starting; a financial server with known vulnerabilities that processes paychecks for hundreds of employees is allowed to operate for months. Nobody should run an unpatched server just because Bob says so.

The P of P2P Is Personal, Not Business

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