Nine Ways to Stop Industrial Espionage
by Calum Macleod - European Director of Cyber-Ark - Wednesday, 2 August 2006.
If we‘re honest every one of us imagine what we’d do with a few million in the bank. The yacht in Cannes, the private jet in Nice, possibly our own football team, and maybe a few other high maintenance accessories top our list of must-haves. But of course the question is how to get there. Working till I’m too old to enjoy it is one option but of course there is an alternative; the lottery, online poker, a rich widow, stocks and shares – increasingly risky these days – or why not simply help myself to something very valuable.

After all if I’m working in IT I probably have access to the corporate crown jewels. And that could be anything; source code for the next money spinning application that will be released, credit card details for thousands of customers. Recently a Coca-Cola employee and two accomplices were arrested in Atlanta for allegedly stealing confidential information from the Coca-Cola and trying to sell it to PepsiCo.

In fact it’s actually quite easy because if I’m working in IT I have access to systems with all kinds of privileged information. Here is my employer thinking that his M&A data is safe and I’m allowed to a free access to the servers storing the data. I can help myself to whatever I want and no one will ever know. And of course it’s much easier now than it was when I first started this job. Then I somehow had to get out of the building with everything under my arm, but now I have dozens of ways to get it out. Just make my choice – mobile, USB stick, email attachments, VPN access from home and no one will ever know! And of course it may not even be my employer, just some company that we provide outsourcing services for – it’s never been easier!

The problem often lies in the fact that we are constantly tempted because the corporate jewels are literally just lying around where anyone can find them. The problem for today’s enterprise is that the transfer of information is increasingly time-critical and the traditional approaches such as FTP and secure email are awkward to manage, and often lack the security mechanisms that sensitive data demands, thus making the risk of leakage very possible. And where it becomes really challenging is when you need to share information with business partners. So here are a few suggestions

Do not expose your internal network

The process of transferring files in and out of the enterprise must be carried out without exposing and risking the internal network. No type of direct or indirect communication should be allowed between the partner and the enterprise.

Make sure that intermediate storage is secure

While information is waiting to be retrieved by the enterprise or sent to the business partner, it must reside in a secure location. This is especially critical when the intermediary storage is located on an insecure network, such as the enterprise’s DMZ, outsourced site, or even the internet.

But encryption and other security mechanisms are not helpful if the security layers where the data is being stored can be circumvented, for example by a systems administrator. Encryption is good for confidentiality, but does not protect data from intentional deletion or accidental modifications. It is important to have a single data access channel to the storage location and ensuring that only a strict protocol, that prohibits code from entering, is available for remote users. In September 2004, an unauthorized party placed a script on the CardSystems system that caused records to be extracted, zipped into a file, and exported to an FTP site. The result was the exposure of millions of credit card details and the eventual demise of CardSystems.

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