Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How social networks, cloud computing are changing online security

The Cisco midyear security report surveys, has indicated that online network security landscape is being changed with the avalanche of adaptation of social networks, and cloud computing to name a few.

According to the Cisco 2010 Midyear Security Report made available to ITRealms Online, businesses must change their mindset on security to help ensure that their networks and vital corporate information are protected from evolving security threats.

The report noted that “Tectonic shifts” have taken root in the security of networks globally, especially with the increasing use of social networking, the proliferation of network-connected mobile devices, and virtualization.

“They have continue to alter the security landscape,” the Marketing Manager for Cisco System Nigeria, Mrs. Owen Inyang.

As a result, she said that enterprise professionals must act immediately to put effective security practices into place in order to protect their companies’ reputation and maintain a competitive edge.

The report, she said, outlined seven recommendations for improving corporate security including tectonic pressures mounting, virtual farms being tended, company policies ignored, innovation gap being bridged, multivector spam attacks rising, and terrorists going social.

She quoted the General Manager, Cisco Nigeria, Mr. Richard Edet, as saying that technological innovations are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, play, share information and communicate with each other.

“Because consumers are typically the early adopters, enterprises often struggle to adapt existing polices to address their employees’ preferred use of technology. With a number of tectonic forces converging in the marketplace, now is the time for enterprises to transform their IT model to accommodate the emerging borderless network and increasing security challenges,” Edet said.

Throwing more light on the key findings, he said that on tectonic pressures mounting, major forces are changing the enterprise security landscape.

“Social networking, virtualization, cloud computing and a heavy reliance on mobile devices continue to have a dramatic impact on the ability of information technology departments to maintain effective network security,” he said, stressing that to help manage these converging trends, enterprises should enforce granular per-user policies for access to applications and data on virtualized systems, set strict limits for access to business data, create a formal corporate policy for mobility, and invest in tools to manage and monitor cloud activities as well as provide employees with guidance on the use of social media in the workplace.

On the virtual farms being tended, Cisco Security Intelligence Operations research found that seven per cent of global sample of users accessing Facebook spend an average of 68 minutes per day playing the popular interactive game “FarmVille.”

“Mafia Wars” was the second most popular game, with five per cent of users each racking up 52 minutes of play daily, while “CafĂ© World,” played by four per cent of users, which accounted for 36 minutes of wasted time per day.

Cisco also said that although loss of productivity is not a security threat, cybercriminals are believed to be developing ways to deliver malware via these games.

On company policies ignored, the research showed that 50 per cent of end users admitted that they ignore company policies prohibiting the use of social media tools at least once a week, and 27 per cent said they change the settings on corporate devices to access prohibited applications.

Also, on the innovation gap being bridged, Cisco report cyber criminals are using technological innovation to their advantage.

“They exploit the gap between how quickly they can innovate to profit from vulnerabilities and the speed at which enterprises deploy advanced technologies to protect their networks,” he said.

Pointing out that while legitimate businesses spend time weighing the decision to embrace social networking and peer-to-peer technologies, cybercriminals are among the early adopters, using them to not only commit crimes but also to enhance their communications and to speed transactions with each other.

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