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Stonesoft Identifies evolved network threats for 2010

Stonesoft Networks : 18 February, 2010  (Technical Article)
Three threats set to dominate network security during 2010 with virtualisation, mobile remote access and credit card security being the main challenges, according to Stonesoft
Stonesoft has warned enterprises of the main culprits that will threaten network security in 2010. These concerns range from credit card security and virtualization to the mobile workforce. With industry experts estimating that enterprises will spend more than $1.5 trillion on technology in 2010, Stonesoft recommends that organizations understand the grave dangers facing the enterprise network and ensure the right mix of technologies and processes are in place to protect them.

While many of the threats facing today's networks are not new, the way these threats access the network have drastically changed in the last five years. The fact that employees are updating their Facebook profiles from corporate resources, booking their next vacation from company smartphones and accessing critical business applications from mobile devices has blurred the line between private and corporate systems.

"In corporate America, the way we use the enterprise network has fundamentally changed. There is no clear line between private and corporate systems if you're using an iPhone to buy concert tickets one minute, then using it to log into an office system the next," said Jeff Hajek, senior vice president of operations for Stonesoft.

The threats, as outlined by Stonesoft's experts, include:

* Identity theft by credit card: Identity theft via breaches in credit card security still remains one of the greatest security concerns for today's enterprises. Traditional firewalls have proven to be inadequate against sophisticated hacking tactics. Stonesoft recommends that organizations invest in more comprehensive network protection through intrusion prevention systems (IPS) that offer deep packet inspection and SSL inspection capabilities.

Stonesoft also recommends that enterprises consider placing IPS capabilities at the perimeter level through the presence of sophisticated next generation firewall technology. These devices, which combine advanced firewall and IPS functionality, will ensure intruders and threats are detected before they reach critical network areas and allow the automatic removal of worms, spyware and other malware. This level of protection is a key requirement for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) by which all companies that store, process or transmit credit card information must abide.

* Physical security for virtualized environments: Security is the dark cloud hanging over virtualization as evidenced by multiple industry reports, which cite security as the top concern preventing virtualization from increased adoption. While the cost and administrative benefits of virtualization are impressive, many enterprises fail to investigate how critical data will be secured.

Enterprises should consider securing their virtual environments with solutions specifically designed for virtualization. Many companies make the mistake of securing virtual environments with the same mix of devices used to secure a physical network. Since organizations need the ability to quickly deploy virtual networks to meet dynamic, fast-changing business needs, there is a great need for the flexibility that only virtual security solutions can provide. Stonesoft is one of the few vendors to provide virtual next generation firewall, IPS and SSL VPN solutions.

* Mobile access for the mobile workforce: Mobile access to enterprise networks has changed dramatically with the iPhone and the smartphones that have followed. With the growth of telecommuting, this will continue to change the way enterprises conduct business and, unfortunately, further open the door to more security threats. For example, remote users typically assign simple passwords for accessing their mobile devices (long passwords are too difficult to type) and frequently fail to update their antivirus software and firewalls. A virus can therefore easily infect not only the user's system, but the enterprise network as well.

To effectively circumvent these dangers in the future, Stonesoft recommends companies be able to administer remote mobile access via iPhones and laptops from a central point. This ensures that security settings and updates for each device are always up to date, and security management is no longer a cumbersome process for each individual device. This centralized approach to network security management will be instrumental in overcoming the network complexity challenges that burden today's enterprises with security threats and overspending.

Hajek comments further: "From the time many IT budgets froze in late 2008 to today, the network threat landscape has evolved. So, as IT budgets begin to thaw, enterprises must make the elimination of a new generation of network threats a top priority - or they stand to lose valuable data, customer satisfaction and revenues. Stonesoft's technology remains at the forefront of combating and eliminating these threats with the lowest total cost of ownership on the market today."
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