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Security beyond firewalls – 7 tips


A false sense of security is one of the most dangerous things in IT and business today. The long-standing assumption is that if the network perimeter is locked down then all is well. And management often believes that if money is being spent on network security then risks are minimized. Well, we know that’s not the case. Just look at the recent headlines and research reports, such as the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

One of the biggest issues that create a false sense of security is vulnerabilities, which may well be getting past your firewall controls without detection. Many times, the assumption is that if it gets through the firewall and it’s bad then it will be easily detected. There will be red flags strewn across audit logs, alerts sent to staff members and so on – just like in the movies. But that’s not true. When you look at the myriad of attacks that are impacting today’s networks, many of the root causes are out of sight and therefore out of mind.

From my experience as a network security consultant, here are just some of the vulnerabilities that you cannot afford to overlook – and there are plenty more:

  1. Web application attacks, both external and internal to the network
  2. Email phishing and the data losses and malware exploits that tend to go along with them
  3. Attackers exploiting missing patches and related vulnerabilities
  4. Open network shares that are provide full, unaudited access to intellectual property and personally-identifiable information in unstructured files and databases
  5. Guest wireless network configuration weaknesses that allow for access into the production environment
  6. Weak password standards, not only at the Windows domain level but across standalone systems such as databases, network infrastructure systems, and mobile devices
  7. Data exfiltration from endpoints out to the cloud or via local USB storage

As great as firewalls are at providing better visibility and protecting the network, the odds are that they won’t detect or prevent most of these issues mentioned above. This is especially true when traffic is encrypted or completely out of sight of the firewall.

So, as your security program matures, know that there’s always more risks lurking around the network. Find out what they are and fix them to get a more holistic control of security across your organization.

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