We don’t like knowing or acknowledging that our networks are constantly under attack. We don’t like admitting that the bad guys can gain access to our information. But it happens more than we’d like to admit. The New York Times reports that a Russian gang has stolen more than one billion passwords from 500 million email addresses.
It’s not an isolated incident, of course: The Times notes that a similar gang in Vietnam obtained data on up to 200 million people, as many as 200 million personal records, including social security numbers, credit card data and bank account information. And don’t forget the data breaches at Target and TJMaxx.
The latest news came last summer as information security professionals gathered in Las Vegas for the Black Hat conference, and they had other horror stories up their sleeves. One speaker said he accidentally discovered that he could gain control of the entire communications network at the hotel where he was staying. Others were talking about a recent study, which found that 70 percent of “smart” consumer devices had security vulnerabilities that could be easily exploited.
Here’s the unpleasant truth: virtually nobody, if anyone, is immune from these kinds of attacks, unless you’re not connected online…and in this day and age, there are few people who don’t use technology. Which means if you’re trying to ensure that your network, and the data on it, remains secure, you’re going to have to assume that you’re constantly under attack. That means regularly searching for evidence that Trojans or other malware may have been planted. It may mean implementing or strengthening existing IDS/IPS systems. And it means regularly educating your workforce to be wary when they’re online: social engineering tactics, such as “spear phishing,” are still the way many hackers obtain the credentials they need to access a network.
At a more granular level, it may also mean using hardware and software that’s specifically designed to resist unauthorized access. For instance, Avocent’s SwitchView™ SC600 and SC700 Series Secure KVM at the desktop, or our Unified Management Gateway (UMG) at the network level. These are field-proven and secure. Government agencies use it to switch safely between computers operating at different classification levels from a single set of peripherals, providing continuous access to critical data, in a manner that doesn’t compromise the security of that data.
Henry Kissinger was famously quoted as saying, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” If you’re responsible for keeping your network secure, you know a little paranoia isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Prior to joining Emerson, I led the marketing efforts at Belden Inc., and Panduit Corp. where I was responsible for directing and integrating their hardware, software, and services capabilities, while transforming these businesses from product-focused to solutions-focused organizations.
I hold both BS and MS degrees in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management.
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