Network Security Has A Lot of Growing Up to Do

By Teresa Jones  |  Posted 2004-04-10 Print this article Print

Guest Commentary: It seems like the Security industry is always coming up with a new category of software. What is an IPS and how is it different from an IDS? The president and CEO of nCircle advocates for integrated products.

Its a safe bet that fire safety has been around since just after our early ancestors first discovered fire. Over time, society has made smart investments in this discipline, to the point where we now feel protected and confident in our ability to fight fires - and the emphasis now is on prevention.

Compare this to network security, which is evolving rapidly, but relatively speaking, still in its infancy. As fire safety experts have been doing for more than a century, companies today are facing a growing need to make strategic investments in proactive technologies that will enable them to reduce threats before they can be exploited.

Addressing the Security Threat: Reactive Technologies

The growth of network security has been driven by a nearly overnight shift of business networks from private, proprietary technologies to the Internet. This transition has happened on a large scale during the past six to eight years.

As organizations connected to the Internet, thinking about security - which previously focused on internal security concerns - was turned inside out. Needing to protect their networks from external attack, companies started to look for new technologies.

The first technologies they turned to were largely reactive in nature, such as the firewall. The firewall was designed to prevent unauthorized access to networks, but some traffic still had to be allowed in, which in turn created opportunities for attackers. To remedy this, companies added new technology such as intrusion detection systems (IDS). Unlike firewalls, intrusion detection systems can actually detect when an attack is taking place on the network.

The challenge with IDS is that although the system can let you know when "break-ins," are occurring, large networks experience hundreds or even thousands of such attempts each day. That many alarms can be overwhelming to IT personnel who must figure out which attacks are truly a serious threat - and which are false alarms or of low risk.

Next page: The Next Step: Intrusion Prevention Systems

Teresa has almost twenty years experience in the IT industry, working in a variety of different end-user organizations ranging from confectionery manufacture to car parts manufacture and distribution. After gaining an upper second in Economics and Statistics at Swansea University, she decided that computers were definitely the way forward. She started her career in IT as a trainee systems analyst, progressing to senior analyst, developing complex systems including an in-house mainframe purchasing system. She gained experience on mid-range systems at a printing plate manufacturer, working as a business analyst.

Teresa was involved in the preparation of proposals for the selection of package systems for the real-time analysis of data from the shop floor and the maintenance department. More recently she has been involved in the worldwide implementation of an enterprise system in a large multinational, designed to streamline the organization's supply chain. The time taken in communications between the various companies within the group became a significant factor, involving the testing and implementation of EDI links within the company as well as with external suppliers. Working with colleagues in a variety of countries and cultures proved challenging, so she decided to add German to the French and Russian learnt at school. She assisted with the testing and roll-out of a Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce solution, and was the prime force behind the development of a Corporate Intranet, providing on-line access to user guides and training material.

Teresa joined Butler Group in early 2001, and has contributed to a number of major reports, including Customer Relationship Management, Business Process Management, and Enterprise Application Integration.

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