IT to Play Central Role in Terrorist Fight

 
 
By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2001-10-01 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Security begins at home. And for the IT manager, that means the server room, where the Internet has brought not only the promise of a worldwide audience but also the threat of worms, hackers and cyber-terrorism.

Security begins at home. And for the IT manager, that means the server room, where the Internet has brought not only the promise of a worldwide audience but also the threat of worms, hackers and cyber-terrorism. As the United States mobilizes to shore up security at airports and public gathering spaces and in the countrys infrastructure, the IT industry has a central role to play—a role that not only makes business sense but also is important in the unfolding war on terror.

In the same week that the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center took place, the Nimda worm ran rampant through the Internet. While there may not be any overt connection between the two events, the continued marauding of worms and viruses across the Net only reinforces a general anxiety about living in an insecure world and a specific feeling that the Net will never be a place where real business can be conducted.

In the past, much of enterprise IT security has been built around firewalls or monitoring products meant to keep the bad guys out. While that is fine for providing a sense of relief that you avoided the virus that halted the company down the hall, it doesnt do much to solve the problem. Thats one of the reasons we found so much to like in the LaBrea 2.0 worm buster. Not only is it effective in helping you keep your network worm-free, it also stops the propagation of the worm. Of course, the other thing we liked was the price, which is free for the download.

The role of IT in the current rush to security cannot be overstated. Before the government rushes to mandate face scanners, fingerprint identification systems or simply networks to signal when a bad guy might be applying for a crop duster license, there has to be some consideration of the systems that will be required to run these programs. Developing systems that have what appears to be an effective front end but in reality are porous is at least partly to blame in the lax airport security programs that had such a horrific result.

Scanning in lots of data, tapping lots of phones or opening lots of encrypted e-mail can drown you in data if you dont have some way to collect, sort and analyze it and alert the security official who needs to know of a breach in process. Too much data is often more dangerous than too little, as overwhelming data can give you a false sense of security.

Where does that system expertise reside? It resides in systems that manage credit card transactions, phone connection and billing systems, and data management systems. The war on terror will be marked by huge amounts of data gathered electronically and in person that will be analyzed to focus on a small group of fanatics. It is telling that President Bush used an attack on financial information as the first salvo in the terror war. The IT sector has a crucial role to play in stopping the terrorists before they can strike again.

 
 
 
 
Since 1996, Eric Lundquist has been Editor in Chief of eWEEK, which includes domestic, international and online editions. As eWEEK's EIC, Lundquist oversees a staff of nearly 40 editors, reporters and Labs analysts covering product, services and companies in the high-technology community. He is a frequent speaker at industry gatherings and user events and sits on numerous advisory boards. Eric writes the popular weekly column, 'Up Front,' and he is a confidant of eWEEK's Spencer F. Katt gossip columnist.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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