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Risk

10/4/2007
01:04 PM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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Network Security Problems? Blame The Boss!

A recent pre-prison interview with a convicted hacker offers some surprising and important lessons in network and computer security.

A recent pre-prison interview with a convicted hacker offers some surprising and important lessons in network and computer security.The conversation with hacker Robert Moore covers a lot of territory -- most of it related to how vulnerable a lot of bigbiz -- really big -- networks were (and may still be.)

My favorite? The number of systems Moore was able to access because of the number of routers that still had their default passwords (the ones pre-installed by the manufacturer) "guarding" the gate.

(I.e., you buy a router from XYZRouterCo and the password is something like XYZRouterCo007.)

Come on!

Where this matters for small and midsize businesses is both clear -- your IT department and tech staff are probably more on top of bonehead oversights like this than bigbiz security bureaucracies, but if they're not you'd better make sure they are -- and less so. How many of your vendors, customers, ISPs and other points-of-contact are making exactly this sort of entry-level (in more than one sense) mistake?

While the failure to re-set (and then regularly re-configure -- network passwords is a system administrator/tech staff fumble, its persistence is a management problem. If the boss doesn't know what the tech staff is doing -- or not doing -- then not-yet-caught guys like Moore can continue to get a relatively free pass into essentially unprotected networks.

In other words, re-setting and regularly changing network passwords is IT's job -- but it's the boss's responsibility to make sure it gets done.

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