Tech Nous: Blended Threats

I recently spent few days in Sydney, and considering that it had been almost 22 years since I last visited Australia’s largest city, there were number of noticeable changes.

Aside from the impressive new facilities, such as Darling Harbour with its mono-rail, the Sydney Entertainment Centre, and the Olympic venues, I couldn’t help but notice how security conscious the place had become. Security guards seemed to be everywhere, our taxi driver was enclosed in special attack-proof cage, and the airport was bristling with high-tech detection equipment (which either the car-keys or coins in my pocket managed to trigger off). And since when did the humble nail-file become classed as dangerous weapon? Since September 11 2001, no doubt.

Meanwhile, I return home to clear my email, and discover that my PC has come under attack number of times by the infamous Klez virus. This nasty little worm is proving to be extremely difficult to eradicate.

Fortunately, I had taken appropriate security measures when I upgraded to new computer, by installing anti-virus (AV) software and downloading the latest updates from the web. Prior to this I had been playing form of Russian roulette by not having the latest AV software, which was extremely nerve-racking, not-to-mention reckless.

Now I can download my emails with much greater confidence.

Have you taken appropriate security measures to protect your system, or do you still trust your instincts when viewing your in-box contents? Take it from me, sooner or later you’ll get caught out. Make the necessary investment now and get some peace of mind, just like the taxi driver who took me to Sydney airport.

On the subject of viruses, in the corporate world one of the latest developments is the so-called “blended threat”. According to security software specialist Symantec, these are security attacks that worm their way into your network via multiple routes and techniques.

Viruses such as Nimda closely resemble biological retro viruses such as HIV. Retro viruses constantly search for different ways to mutate and multiply, and in the same way blended virus has more than one tool in its pocket to get onto another system.

The treatment of retro viruses is extremely difficult. It is necessary to attack and block all known propagation properties of the virus to have any effect at all. Miss just one, and the infection starts all over again.

Blended threats require blended defences. Symantec recommends combination of traditional AV, intrusion detection, firewall and even vulnerability assessment products. cohesive internet security strategy involving multiple defences is an absolute must. Security solutions must provide defence in both depth and breadth. Each point through which piece of data or code passes, and each possible destination, must be protected within an organisation.

With mass mailer and blended threats increasing in frequency, and travelling as fast as they do (the ‘I Love You’ virus paralysed more than 100,000 systems in matter of hours), the time to take appropriate security measures was literally yesterday!

If you are feeling somewhat vulnerable to attack right now, you might like to drop your name and contact details to the email address shown below, and I’ll put you in the draw to win copy of Symantec’s Norton SystemWorks 2002, which has the latest AV software, along with other tools to keep your PC in peak performance.

Glenn Baker is editor of e.Office.
Email: [email protected]

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