Master End-User Security

Small Businesses-All businesses, and consumers too, for that matter-face a miasma of threats every day.

There are direct attacks, such as drive-by downloads and application exploits, and indirect attacks, such as phishing-and while I’m mentioning one type of e-mail attack I’ll throw in spam for good measure, If you can defend against all that, then start thinking about internal threats: podslurping, users running unauthorized applications, and data theft. It’s no picnic out there for security admins.

What You can Do

Start by educating staff about high-risk behaviors. Explain the dangers of phishing and identity theft. Discourage downloads and installation of unsupported applications. Explain how dangerous various plug-ins and ActiveX components can be. Teach staff not to open unexpected attachment, and not to click on the links in spam.

Inside  Threats

USB memory keys and other writable media-notably iPods- are well-known threats, enabling extremely easy theft of data. Despite this, nearly 50 percent of IT staff surveyed take no preventive measures against iPod use in the office.

86% of IT workers surveyed cited USB flash drive as the device most often used to store and move data.

61% use an iPod.

67% believe that iPods are a security risk.

49% stated they would not use preventive measures.

Keep the following in mind when evaluating endpoint security solutions:

  • Centralized management features are critical. Maintaining policy (and malware definitions) in one place through a single interface and pushing to workstation agents is many times more efficient than having to install, configure, and update software on every workstation manually.
  • Look for an intuitive interface where all functionality (firewall, HIPS, anti-malware, and policy management ) is integrated. Symantec Client Security 10 was an unfortunate example of how difficult it can be to manage a nonintegrated interface. And the company has completely reworked the interface for the better with End Point Protection 11.
  • Along with centralized management, accurate and timely reports and alerts are key. You can start your day with an e-mail telling you whether all your workstations are protected. If a malware scan finds something, you’ll get an alert (e-mail or SMS) immediately so you can take action.
  • Integration with directory services such as Active Directory and LDAP will save time, because you can import users and groups in the security management console without having to recreate them.
  • Make sure you can prevent data loss (or theft) by controlling access to removable media such as USB memory keys or writable CDs and DVDs. This is something that SkyRecon Storm Shield does very well, regulating reads and writes by device type, user, and file extension. For our roundup of data theft-prevention software, see
Courtesy PC Magazine May 08
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