When you start talking about Internet monitoring software, most times you see folks divide up into two camps. The first is all for it, convinced that the company must watch what users are doing at all times to catch those who violate policy. The second considers monitoring as an infringement on their privacy, and that any Internet monitoring software can only serve to make employees feel even less trusted.
The fact is that both of these camps are in the extreme, if opposite, and both are wrong. Internet monitoring software is an effective and invaluable solution for protecting users from many of the dangers associated with accessing the Internet. The protections that Internet monitoring software offers can all be deployed without having to log a single user’s web access. Sure, Internet monitoring software can be used to maintain logs and provide reports of a user’s surfing if you wish, but that is something a company would choose to do for a specific issue; not a part of the protections that they so desperately need. With all the threats present on the Internet today, let’s look at the top six risks to your company that come about from not using Internet monitoring software:
Malware can cause all kinds of problems if it infects a machine, from lost productivity and downtime, to larger compromises that back door programs can provide to attackers. Malware can spread from machine to machine, and once it gains a foothold within a company, it can take down an entire site whether by infecting all the other machines, or simply because the network team takes a location down to prevent the infection from spreading to other sites. Users can be exposed to malware by downloads of files, or by accessing compromised sites. Internet monitoring software can block access to sites known to be hosting malware, and can also scan all file downloads to be sure they are safe.
2. Time wasted
I will never advocate that you cut users off from personal access to the Internet. As long as the office can interrupt their evenings or weekends, some personal use should be tolerated in the interests of fairness and morale. But the Internet can also be a huge time sink, and many users can hit a site with the intention of no more than a quick check-in, to find 45 minutes later that they are late for a meeting. Internet monitoring software can help control access to non-business sites, and limit the time spent surfing for fun.
3. Bandwidth consumption
Internet monitoring software can help to control access to high-bandwidth services; ensuring that there is enough bandwidth available for customers to hit your website and for email to flow. You don’t want your ecommerce site to be slow to respond because too many users are streaming movies.
4. Data leakage
Whether it’s Wikileaks, peer-to-peer networking, personal web mail services, or your competitor’s portal, you don’t want users forwarding or posting confidential information from your business to outside sites. Internet monitoring software can block access to these services, helping to enforce policy and keeping sensitive information inside.
5. Legal action
A user on your network downloads a pirated movie from one of those sites. The MPAA tracks the download to your network. Who do you think is going to be the target of a settlement offer, or worse, a lawsuit? What users do on their own time and with their own equipment is their business; what they do with the company’s computer on the company’s network is yours. Internet monitoring software can prevent users from stepping on the wrong side of copyright while on the clock, which protects the business from any consequences.
6. HR issues
Again, what a user does at home is their own concern, but there are plenty of things on the web that have no reason for a user to access while at the office. Some users are more sensitive to questionable content than others, and the last thing anyone wants is for one employee to feel threatened or offended by the actions of another. Internet monitoring software can protect users from accidentally clicking the wrong link, which protects everyone from having a sit down with HR.
Remember, using Internet monitoring software doesn’t mean you have to be big brother or play the role of the Internet police officer to protect your users. Internet monitoring software can provide protections while maintaining the anonymity of your users and keeping their individual web browsing habits private. Adding these protections makes good business sense, and can be done without making users think that they are untrusted, or being spied upon. Look at Internet monitoring software as the next layer of your defense in depth strategy.
This guest post was provided by Casper Manes on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Learn more about why you need Internet monitoring software.
All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.
The net is buzzing about Stuxnet variant ‘duqu’. Let’s put it in perspective.
Stuxnet received a lot of attention because it was the first publicized case of malware targeting a physical control system, and anything that touches a nuclear reactor is a big deal. But this type of threat certainly wasn’t unforceen. The potential for malware and other network-centric threats to impact SCADA systems has been discussed within the security community for years. Stuxnet was simply the first to capture the spotlight.
The source code has been widely available online since July, so it’s no surprise that derivatives are starting to appear. Cyber criminals of all sorts have undoubtedly downloaded, modified, and experimented with it. The vast majority of malware created today is simply a derivative of existing malware; those capable of creating something completely new are far and few between. This new variant, code-named ‘duqu’, is probably the work of an individual or small group. A government or large criminal organization would not rework the Stuxnet code. They’d study it, learn from it, and then create something completely different to avoid detection.
Organizations with SCADA systems should be concerned about a much broader range of threats rather than focusing on Stuxnet or duqu. They need to ensure that their systems are adequately protected against malware and a long list of other insider and outsider threats.
More generally, rather than focusing on specific peices of malware, we should be asking why we continue to build systems that, from a security perspective, are fundamentally flawed. We continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, and then we’re surprised when a security breach occurs.
According to E!Online, Scarlet Johansson is “fighting mad” over some nude pics of her that ended up online. Let me offer some simple security advice:
If you don’t want people to see something, don’t photograph it.
If you have a look at the pics (Links: photo1 photo2) you’ll note that she appears to have taken them herself using her mobile phone. While I certainly don’t have any inside knowledge of the case, my bet would be that the sender or recipient’s email account was compromised, not the phone itself. Of course for that to be the case, she would have had to email the images to someone, which bring us to my next bit of advice:
Don’t email photos that you don’t want people to see.
Of course there’s always the publicity angle. Leak nude pics of yourself. Benefit from the exposure, but deny intent. Then play up the victim angle, collect some sympathy votes, and keep the story alive. Ah, Hollywood.
Added 2011-09-20: I linked to the photos in the original article because of their relevance to the story — they showed her holding the camera herself. I did not copy the images to avoid a copyright infringement. It appears that they have been taken offline or access blocked.
Microsoft issued 13 security bulletins that address 22 vulnerabilities. Out of these vulnerabilities, three are rated critical by Microsoft.
“The DNS vulnerability could result in a complete system compromise,” said Joshua Talbot, security intelligence manager, Symantec Security Response. “Because no user interaction is needed, a vulnerable service simply needs to be up and running for the vulnerability to be exploited.”
“Internet Explorer is affected by two critical vulnerabilities being patched, both of which can be exploited by a drive-by download,” Talbot added. “The fact that vulnerabilities such as these continue to be so common is one reason why web-based attacks are so prevalent. There is a very large attack surface.”
“We haven’t seen nearly this many low profile patches – ones that primarily result in information-disclosure or cause denial-of-service conditions – in quite some time,” Talbot concluded. “Half of all the vulnerabilities patched this month are of that type, which is rare.”
University of North Carolina researchers have demonstrated that the encryption system used by Skype – and presumably other VoIP products – is flawed and leaks data. In summary, patterns in packet sizes appear to be sufficient to perform linguistic analysis. According to New Scientist, the researchers were able to decrypt 2.3 percent of conversations and accuracy is expected to increase.
There is good reason that high-end cryptographic devices offer features such as maintaining a constant data rate independent of the data being encrypted. It sounds like Skype might want to also incorporate some of those features.