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Finjan comments on the need to secure branch offices

Finjan Software : 01 April, 2009  (Technical Article)
Infiltrations to on-line networks through branch offices illustrate the need not to overlook remote locations when securing the corporate network
Comments on the need to stay protected by Microsoft's Commercial Market Strategy Director in the Middle East and Africa highlight the need not to overlook the security requirements of branch offices, says Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Finjan's Chief Technology Officer.

'The comments of Microsoft's Mark Chaban, which came after Chinese cyber spies had been found to have infiltrated into the online networks of companies around the world are very relevant to the needs of branch offices,' he said.

'When news reports like this there is a tendency to overlook the fact that we live and work in a global village, and that many companies have branch offices in the Middle East or, of course, that Middle Eastern firms have operations elsewhere in the world,' he added.

According to Ben-Itzhak, Chaban's revelations that Microsoft's security software detected malware and similarly unwanted applications on 42.6 per cent more PCs in the Gulf States last year than in 2007 makes for very interesting reading.

Whilst many major companies install unified Web security on their head office systems, he says, the security needs of branch offices and operations are often overlooked, with the result that these branch IT systems are usually the weakest link in the IT security defence chain.

Hackers, he explained, are now sufficiently criminally-driven (and minded) to research their victim companies and, as a result, target branch offices, knowing full well that this is their best chance of gaining unauthorised access to the organisation concerned.

Ben-Itzhak went on to say that, in its latest quarterly cybercrime report, Finjan identified that criminal hackers are injecting search engine optimisation targeted pages to include repetitive popular search keywords with minor typos.

By targeting regional pages of major companies, which have lesser page visitors, but whose page accesses are still measured in the tens of thousands, he says, it is far easier to get these injected pages to the top of the search engine lists.

'This means that, when someone searches for XYZ Corporation Middle East, they have a greater chance of ending up on the compromised pages of XYZ Corp's pages than if they searched for the company name alone,' he said.

'And this is where weaker defences on branch office IT systems really come into play, as their weaknesses can be exploited by hackers wanting to route innocent Internet users over to their compromised sites,' he added.

It's against this backdrop that Ben-Itzhak is urging IT managers to spend just as much time and resources on securing their branch offices as their head office.

'Only by doing this can they hope to equally protect all aspects of their organisation's IT operations against criminals,' he said.
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