The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Security

Tuesday, 10 December 2002, 12:56 PM EST

Vulnerability scanners exist to tighten up your company's security. Essentially, these new software packages put hacking tools into a commercial wrapper so that administrators can use them to probe their own systems and look for holes that a bad guy could use to steal information or break into unsecured machines. But what if one of the administrators turns out to be a bad guy?

You guessed it--all your company's data is at risk, along with any personal data stored by or about you and your fellow employees on company systems.

These "hack-in-a-box" programs, like Network Associates' Cybercop Scanner and Bindview's Hacker Shield, were developed so that companies could get some peace of mind on the cheap. Traditionally, corporations concerned about their digital borders would hire security consultants, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, to engage in "penetration testing" of their networks. The process usually involved a number of security specialists attempting to discover all your network's vulnerabilities while your company's IT staff looked on. Even though these consultants had access to the most sensitive areas of your network, their actions were observed and logged carefully.

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