[ISN] X-Force combats hackers

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Mon Sep 07 1998 - 21:05:52 PDT

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    Forwarded From: Simon Taplin <stickerat_private>
    Taken from Business Times IT section
    You have heard of the X-Files where special agents fend off the threat of
    alien attacks. Now meet the X-Force, a team for software specialists doing
    battle against equally insidious - and far more real - attacks on your
    corperate network. 
    The X-Force is a squad of 20 young programmers developing network security
    products for Internet Security Systems (ISS). Although companies were
    transmitting an increasing amount of vital data electronically, network
    security was often neglected, said ISS vice- president of Europe, Middle
    East and Africa, Alex Bogaerts. 
    "Intrusions and attacks can come from anywhere in the world", he said.
    "It's electronic warfare." An Ernst & Young survey showed that 42% if
    companies had suffered "a malicious external attack" - 16% higher from the
    previous year. 
    Of those attacks, 38% were confirmed as industrial esponiage. Just as
    distrubing was a finding that 43% of companies were maliciously attacked
    from the inside, by an employee with a grudge or a desire to see
    confidential data. 
    About 80% of security crimes were committed by insiders, said Bogaerts. 
    "Every piece of software and every machine has its vulnerabilities.  IT
    could be a bug which lets an intruder take control of a machine or lets
    them destroy files." 
    Human error was a major contributor to poor security, he said.  Research
    showed that 70% of firewalls leaked because thhey were badly maintained or
    not configured correctly. 
    In Germany, 43% of companies that had installed the highly expensive and
    complex SAP enterprise resource management software had not bothered to
    change the default passwords. 
    A difficulty comes when people try to balance security against the need
    for easy access for the right people. For instance, a firewall controls
    access to a network, but makes entry for electronic commerce more
    "If you want to do electronic commerce you need security that is pervasive
    but invisible," said Bogaerts. 
    In addition, a firewall did not give any feedback about who tried to
    access a networrk without permission. This was useful information for
    countering an attack. 
    "It is important to know who is attacking because people will come to the
    firewall first to see how your network functions, before thet attack
    through a back door," he said. 
    ISS had developed software able to monitor, detect and respond to threats.
    One product can lead a hacker into areas of the network where they can do
    no harm, without the hacker recognising he has been detected. 
    Another tool highlights weaknesses in the network and gives step-by- step
    details how to fix it. 
    "Network security is not a project - it is a basic part of the network,"
    said Bogaerts. 
    ISS is represented in SA by network security company SMC
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