The demise of traditional perimeter defences
Source: - Posted by Pax Dickinson   
Network Security There is a classic moment during the battle for Helm’s Deep in the epic film, Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers, when King Theoden stands atop the supposedly impregnable city. Rain sodden, he surveys the massed ranks of Saruman’s armies and defiantly shouts ‘Is this all you’ve got?’ A few fateful minutes, and a well placed explosive, later his confidence is shattered and replaced with fear as he realises that his fortress has been penetrated.

Whilst this may have been a marvellous piece of celluloid drama, this scene could have been replicated in the IT departments of many enterprises throughout 2004. Replace Helm’s Deep with firewalls and the Orcs with trojans and viruses and you’ll soon appreciate the similarities.

In terms of security and protecting our organisations, we really are still in the dark ages, and these are the plague years. Many companies hit by the SQL Slammer, NetSky and Blaster worms - and any of last year's main viruses- learned the hard way about what worked when it came to their security defences. In the main, perimeter defences such as network firewalls, gateway signature antivirus devices, and patches just about coped, but the internal networks suffered badly.

Certainly, traditional tactics are not working. Several operating systems vendors estimate that it can take approximately 20 - 30 days to deploy, implement and test a patch across an organisation’s network. This is more than enough time for a destructive virus or worm to deliver its payload. In fact many of the breaches caused last year were due to remote workers and authorised visiting contractors connecting to networks without the prescribed signature updates/patches being applied and subsequently infecting desktops and servers that were still to be secured.

Firewalls, intrusion-detection systems and antivirus software all play a role in security, but as network managers have witnessed, networks are being attacked at all levels. The answer to the problem is becoming clearer. To provide a greater level of security we have to consider both the external threats and the internal threats in tandem.

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