ORGANISATIONS are facing multiple threats from all sides as the economic downturn bites and online activities pose more of a threat. That's the word from Greg Brown, senior director for product marketing: Network Defence at McAfee. Brown was speaking at an ITWeb CIO breakfast earlier this month. He said Web 2.0, interaction with online applications, botnets and merger activity were major problems.
"Web 2.0 is something that organisations are adopting," said Brown. "In the US and increasingly in EMEA, organisations are being pressured by their employees and by partners to allow Web 2.0 applications. The reality is that young folks are joining organisations and asking HR what the policy is about Facebook and Twitter, so they can have a proper work-life balance. The other part of that is marketing. Dell did $2 million in sales last year on Twitter. People following the company on Twitter could get special deals."
The issue, noted Brown, is that Twitter has a risk factor: "The Twitter worm allowed you to steal someone else's follower list. That's a problem for companies using it to reach a customer base."
Another risk is that posed by online applications.
"Online applications are another problem. There's a lot of private information about your employees that is pushed out to those services. The issue is that you have to connect to them and push the data, and your employees need to be able to access in a secure and reliable way. Like it or not, at some point your data is going to have to traverse the net, and you need to make sure that it's using a secure protocol. Many organisations are using Secure Shell to transfer information over the public Internet. The problem is that because most of the network security technologies allow Secure Shell to pass, other protocols can run on top of it; that poses a risk to your environment. You can't see what's happening inside that connection. So you need way of looking inside it both to check for content and to enforce policy."
Security is also a challenge when companies merge.
"In this economic climate, we're seeing a lot of mergers, and one of the big challenges is how to bring organisations together. We acquired Secure Computing last year and our mail systems are only now starting to work correctly. The other activity is divestiture: organisations are spun off and it's important to segment the network and protect assets as the hierarchy changes."
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