Security response in a midsize office

Thursday, 19 December 2002, 2:11 PM EST

Small and medium-size businesses probably have no dedicated security staff. Their attitude toward security is to try to stay out of trouble. In this sense, small and midsize companies handle security the way people handle the security of their home office systems -- but with important differences that I'll outline below. These businesses often have employees who would astonish security professionals with questions such as, "Why would somebody want to hack us? We have nothing that would interest hackers." Today, most IT professionals understand that server disk storage, CPU cycles and high-speed network connections have a lot of value for malicious hackers and alleged cyberterrorists.

Even though they're small, these businesses are more regulated and have more administrative requirements than a private citizen in a home office. These requirements might include responsibilities to shareholders, fear of litigation for breach of contract, professional liability and many others. Thus, the level of security and accountability would need to be higher than in a home office. Most organizations connected to the Internet now have at least one firewall and some sort of DMZ setup for public servers (Web, e-mail, FTP, remote access). Many are deploying intrusion-detection systems (IDS) and virtual private networks (VPN). All these technologies raise new concerns about what to do with signals coming from them, since companies rarely hire new security staff just to handle those signals.

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