Threats in the Networked world
Posted by: Lucius Lobo On September 08, 2009 12:45 AM
Organizations today are facing security threats that would have been un-imaginable only a few years ago. It is unfortunate that security continues to be an afterthought, based on the fact that though most of the security threats surge through a communication network, security was never built into it. Consequently, enterprises need to secure their own gates as a bolt on, which resulted in two key inefficiencies, i.e. higher cost and relative lack of overall enterprise security and the consumption of telecom bandwidth due to malware generated traffic. Telecom companies are now attempting to find the first few fixes by placing security device into the network core and providing clean pipe solutions. Let’s analyze some of the key network security concerns that exist in today’s communication environment.
Device evolution can be seen as a mirror of network and access growth. However, these un-precedential technology developments pose a huge conventional PC threat, extending to mobile devices too. Digital convergence is a threat for information security in mobile devices, which are becoming more versatile and more complex, further raising new security concerns. Mobile security may have advanced in recent years, but this progress has been rescinding by an increased number of malicious attacks. Mobile handsets, Personal computers, laptops and Portable multimedia devices which encompass latest technology would unlock several opportunities to attack. It is very difficult for the user to realize the difference between professional and personal use of device. Also the key implication of ubiquitous wireless connectivity is that attackers can get to you at all times. As mobile devices such as Blackberry are increasingly used for e-mail and perhaps e-wallets, there is a probability for identity and credit card theft. End point security which takes into account security of data and applications on mobile is still not fully mature. Another major use of mobile will be of a primary access mechanism for stock broking and payments. To do so many forms of authentication – user and device will need to be supported. Telecom operator may need to find a way to interoperate with third parties who offer their paid services to share authentication data.
Shift to IP
The existing security policies are often built upon ideas of resilience, based on diverse and separate routing. In the new IP-based world, this will no longer be possible as discrete networks will not exist and it will be very difficult to control or even monitor the automatic routing mechanisms. New ideas for security will need to evolve, recognizing the changing technology landscape. Nor will the idea of ‘security by obscurity’ based on the use of proprietary protocols be tenable any more. There is a further concern; the impact of any attack. Not only are we moving to more vulnerable and less trustworthy networks, but the effect of an attack will be more severe as a result of uniformity of networks and technical architectures underlying them. If all this is not enough, a further twist is that as the new networks roll out and replace existing ones, additional vulnerabilities could appear where old interfaces with new. The technological complexity of network services causes major problems for the quality and information security because there is not enough time for product and service development.
The main characteristics of convergence threat can be seen as a switch-over from closed networks to open systems, which cause network traffic to spread in unplanned and untested ways. The data in converged systems is transferred between different network environments and a false message can cause problems in some networks because of system defaults or errors. Systems that were planned to be isolated can now be accessed through network by new means. Some systems did not have even the lowest level security mechanisms. Nowadays the security and reliability cultures have been expanded or are expanding to application development in the IP world. Signs of challenges caused by networking are visible in many technologies that are being connected to the IP network. These technologies can suffer the same threats as are common in the Internet.
The current events in South Korea clearly show that large scale denial of service attacks are increasing funded by countries and well organized groups. They target government institutions as well as private institution. A DDOS attack can only be repelled, if telecom companies invest in technologies to detect and prevent these kinds of attacks. Most of the developed and developing economies are driven by logistics. Logistics are driven by computers and networks. If you disable the communication, goods and services cease to flow. This causes severe disruption in economic activity
Communication networks will need to enhance the level of network security place onto the core of the network to mitigate current and future risks. Future network products will have security as an inbuilt feature.
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