IT managers become cyber security guards

Friday, 10 October 2003, 2:30 PM EST

The voracity and constancy of computer attacks in recent weeks has done more than wreak havoc on business networks and desktop PCs; the attacks have turned IT managers into weary-eyed trouble-shooters, many of whom are longing for the days when integrating new CRM tools or remote access software were the biggest tasks in a given week. These days IT management is all about three things: security, security and security.

Further complicating their newly defined jobs as cyber security guards is the fact that new threats are becoming increasingly difficult to detect. Take the Palyh and Swen/Gibe bugs that hit the Net in May and September respectively; both appeared as Microsoft e-mails and Swen in particular was especially well crafted and deceptive. Throw in ultra-infectious outbreaks like Blaster, Sobig and Bugbear and the job of updating a company's anti-virus software -- and occasionally cleaning a virus off a system -- becomes a monumental task.

But any IT manager worth their salt will tell you that anti-virus software isn't even half of it. Almost every component of any company's computer network is susceptible to attack from a hacker, or possibly a virus, seeking to exploit a seemingly unimportant vulnerability is some minute programme. Microsoft alone has issued dozens of patches for its most used products this year and nowadays simply keeping up with Redmond's latest fix is a full time job.

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What's the real cost of a security breach?

The majority of business decision makers admit that their organisation will suffer an information security breach and that the cost of recovery could start from around $1 million.

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