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Risk

6/5/2010
09:58 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Think Your Enterprise Is Under Attack?

Well, I'm sure it's probed, prodded, and attacked every day. Sometimes by live criminal attackers, other times by curiosity seeking hackers, and quite often by automated and malicious software. But it's probably not hit as often as the Department of Defense networks. It's tough getting one's mind around these numbers.

Well, I'm sure it's probed, prodded, and attacked every day. Sometimes by live criminal attackers, other times by curiosity seeking hackers, and quite often by automated and malicious software. But it's probably not hit as often as the Department of Defense networks. It's tough getting one's mind around these numbers.Consider this data, straight from Gen. Keith Alexander, director, National Security Agency Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, who spoke this Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS):

National and military information infrastructures, moreover, are increasingly intertwined. They include the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems and embedded processors and controllers in critical industries. That infrastructure is sophisticated and robust, but it also has its weak points. DOD systems are probed by unauthorized users approximately 250,000 times an hour, over 6 million times a day.

I've no idea how the DOD would even begin to vet real threats from those not worth investigating. According to the same talk, Gen. Alexander explained that the DOD has more than 7 million systems to protect, linked in 15,000 networks with 21 satellite gateways and 20,000 commercial circuits composed of an uncountable number of devices.

That's a mind-boggling number of attacks and systems to defend against and protect.

But you may have more in common with the DOD than you think when it comes to the challenge of defending your systems from attack. That's because, despite the scale of the attacking and defending the DOD must do, the challenges within the theater of battle are the same for businesses and individuals alike. From the same talk:

And while our frontline defenses are up to this challenge, we still have to devote too much of our time and resources to dealing with relatively mundane problems such as poorly engineered software, missing patches and poor configuration.

That's why, whether you are the DOD or a small business: vulnerability and configuration management are among the most important aspects of your security plan. And the general's comments show just how important it is to keep the pressure on software vendors to produce more secure code by design.

Here's a video of Gen. Alexander's discussion at CSIS:

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter.

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