2005: The Year of Internal Security

For too long now we’ve seen security threats have a negative impact on internalnetworks, and as a result, a harmful effect on employee and company productivity. Andfor far too long, enterprises of all sizes have neglected to focus enough resources andenergy on securing these valuable internal network resources.

In 2004, a quiet revolution began. And this year, the information technology industry willsee this phenomenon further evolve as organizations begin to focus on securing theirinternal networks with the same vigor they have applied at the perimeter.

Focused Effort

Internal security refers to a focused effort to secure resources on internal networks, orLANs. These resources can include applications, data, servers, and endpoint devices.Meta Group has observed that “only 10-20 percent of organizations with relatively maturesecurity programs have managed to address internal security to a meaningful extent.”

Internal security attacks can happen either maliciously or inadvertently. But regardlessof what prompts an internal security breach, one thing is for certain: The impact ofinternal security issues causes negative results on an organization from both a technicaland business perspective.

Why is internal security finally becoming a priority? First, there are business drivers prompting more focus on internal security. Around the globe, companies are being forced to comply with regulations that ensure the privacy of customer data and the security of intellectual property that resides on internal networks. These regulations drive an increased need for internal security.

Second, there is increased awareness about internal hacking. Organizations can nolonger take a “don’t look, don’t tell” approach. Instead, many are now required toprovide proof that they are continuously looking for internal hackers. How large has theinternal hacking threat become? The CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Surveyshowed that 66 percent of organizations suffered an insider attack in 2003.

Financial Impact

At the same time, the financial impact of worm and other new types of destructive threatshas increased and become more visible in the industry. Having the ability to protectagainst and contain worms, is perhaps the No. 1 problem driving the investment in internal security solutions. It is estimated that the Slammer worm alone resulted in more than $1billion in damage, for example.

Furthermore, as security vulnerabilities in software have become more proactivelycommunicated by Microsoft and other sources, the timeline from vulnerability to exploitis shrinking. The time to patch the announced security holes remains ever-present — andjust takes too long. So companies are searching for ways to protect their LAN resourcesduring this period of susceptibility – until the holes can be filled with properly patchedsoftware.

Lastly, IT organizations have realized that endpoint devices — whether a personalcomputer, PDA or other device, must be as secure on LANs as they are when connectingfrom outside the perimeter (such as on a VPN connection.) Once these endpoints aresecure internally as well as externally, they will no longer inadvertently introducemalicious code and other security threats.

How Enterprises Will Begin To Focus

Companies of all sizes are beginning to shift their attention to the topic of internalsecurity. They are starting to initiate change in how they protect resources on the LAN,and in turn, protect their employees’ productivity. Once an organization is convinced they should invest time, money and resource on internal security their first step focuses on adding an extra layer of defense within their networks, including:

  • Securing endpoints
  • Implementing an additional layer of protection specifically for worm defense
  • Enforcement of proper use through well articulated security policy
  • Quarantine capabilities for isolating infected devices
  • Segmenting LANs for threat containment
  • Remediation assistance

The Revolution Has Begun

2005 is the year of internal security. A combination of business and technology driversare triggering this revolution, including worm outbreaks, privacy regulations, reducedwindows of time to react and a multitude of new types of threats. There are simple stepsorganizations can take to get started on protecting their internal network resources.

For the organizations who make these moves, in 2005 they will reap the benefits of having more secure and stable LANs, and in turn, a more productive workforce.

Shelley Wilson is a director at Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd.,responsible for Solutions Marketing.

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