From the Oct. 2008 Issue
Some of the biggest disasters are the ones that happen every day. A lost file here, a crashed hard drive there, a virus infection that should have been caught, an accidental deletion of an entire folder, a corruption of a database or a myriad of other small issues. Prior to mega events like hurricane Katrina, the losses from day-to-day issues were more than all natural disasters combined. This month’s column is going to cover software, hardware appliances and other services that can make you more secure and allow you to recover your firm faster.
Fundamental protection should be in place such as firewalls and anti-virus software. You should have a routine where you update your software frequently and where daily backups are being made. Server technologies such as RAID drives or other technologies such as virtualization should be considered if they are not already in use. Once you have the fundamentals right, the categories below can give you extra protection. The goal of listing the products below is to give you ideas on how to protect your firm in the event of a failure. These tools should either prevent a failure, or make it easier and faster to recover.
Let’s consider the first category of tools that are designed to protect your individual computers as well as your network. Security software can help protect your existing machines and network. PGP encryption is the protection most widely recommended to encrypt local hard drives, and provide a level of e-mail encryption, as well. Many states do not require reporting if the lost machine has hard disk encryption installed. PGP takes several hours to encrypt your computer’s hard drive, but once it is in place, there is no noticeable difference in performance.
Preventing bad things from getting to your computers is the focus of the next applications. Code Red can prevent the use of USB ports or wireless except under certain circumstances. This product protects you from direct theft of data via the USB port or unauthorized wireless use. TrustWare BufferZone provides protection for all the things not covered by firewalls or anti-virus software. This product’s claim to fame is application virtualization without any effort, but it also protects confidential files and folders, prevents running forbidden files and programs, offers external media protection, protects from e-mail attachments, has the ability to eliminate unneeded files through Single-Click Cleaning, and has a Real-Time Security Monitor.
For larger networks, New Boundary’s Policy Commander does automated enforcement of policies, and its suite of products includes automation of most desktop tasks. BOUNCER by CoreTrace takes a different approach, which could eliminate the need for any anti-virus or protection software of any kind, including the need to do software updates. This product locks down an image and prevents software from being changed by any outside source. This provides version control and completely eliminates the need for routine updates, a very interesting concept.
What happens if a machine turns up missing? Thirty-seven states currently require reporting of lost personal data, and more will follow suit. If you have the computer’s hard drive encrypted, you may eliminate the need for reporting, but wouldn’t it be nice to know where the machine is, and wipe the data clean? Tools like Computrace LoJack can do exactly this. In fact, many of these products can trace through Internet connection, trace through Wi-Fi connection, trace through telephone connection, gather forensics on the thief, use the computer’s GPS to locate itself, take a picture of the crook with built-in camera, and wipe out all the data on the hard drive when the machine is identified as stolen. Some products are specifically designed to control and wipe out the data on a machine, such as Beachhead’s Lost Data Solution.