Network security risks of mergers too often ignored

Tuesday, 27 August 2002, 10:26 AM EST

A major manufacturer buys an up-and-coming competitor. They combine financials, marketing goals, corporate strategies and computer networks. They throw parties. They hold press conferences and change corporate titles.

The one thing they usually forget to do is align network security systems - and that could be the most dangerous misalignment of all.

Corporate acquisitions and mergers, while good for the bottom line, often end up being a security nightmare, according to industry analysts. Contractors for one company now have instant access to the newly configured corporate network. Workers at one company may have gone through lengthy background checks, while workers at the second company sailed in without anyone looking into their criminal and financial history. New workers may automatically receive wide-ranging network privileges, giving them easy access to critical information and systems that they don't have any real business touching.

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