An article from the Associated Press published on news.yahoo.com on Wednesday outlines the threat that the Stuxnet virus poses to industry around the world.
The malicious computer attack appears to primarily target the Iranian nuclear plants, but according to the article, it can be modified to interfere with industrial control systems around the world, and “represents the most dire cyberthreat known to industry”, according to government officials and experts.
Of course government will not be of help, even though Senator Joe Leiberman says that legislation on the matter will be a “top priority” AFTER lawmakers return in January.
This means it is up to businesses to do everything they can to protect their networks from Stuxnet and its variants as well as the plethora of other malicious software aimed at wreaking havok on society.
What can you do to protect your computer network infrastructure? I’m glad you asked! What follows is a rough outline of some actions you can take to prevent malware from infiltrating your network…
- Whatever physical network firewall you are using should be current, not an end-of-life unit. If you are using anything older than 5 years, chances are good, even with the latest firmware updates, it is of little protection. Consider using a newer product, from a reputable manufacturer such as Cisco, WatchGuard, SonicWall, Jupiter, and make sure it has all the latest updates on it. If you have questions, your network support specialists can help.
- If your firewall features IDS (Intrusion Detection), use it. Watch logs, look for active attempts by people to get into your network.
- Never going to do business outside the USA? Don’t require email from various countries? You could lock down your firewall to block traffic from some “hot spots”, such as China, Russia, the Middle East, etc.
- Lock down unused services (Not using FTP on your servers? Block the port, disable the service)
- Don’t forget about those servers on your network which are not accessible from the outside world, many times a workstation is exploited and a “bad guy” uses that workstation to gain access to other servers to run their own applications on. If you don’t access these machines often, activity could go unnoticed, for weeks, months and longer!
- Insure all computers are up to date with the Operating System patches, regardless if they are Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, 7, linux, etc. Implement a patch management system.
- Insure all applications have the latest patches and updates applied. (Especially Adobe products and JAVA).
- Leave behind OLD, unsupported, insecure applications, plugins, extensions, and operating systems. If it is unsupported, how will vulnerabilities be addressed? Security through obscurity probably is not a good idea.
- Anti-Virus is not an option! Thinking that a free anti-virus is “better than nothing”? Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for”. Do you really want to take a chance with your security? We recommend quality anti-virus from Trend Micro, or at least Symantec or McAfee. Thinking your Mac is not vulnerable is a fantasy.
- Browsing – stop it! If you have users on your network who spend their day browsing sites randomly, you may want to consider putting a policy in place to limit the types of sites they use, or at least use web filtering / web reputation (such as is offered in Trend Micro Worry Free Business Security) to help protect you from known bad sites. Trend Micro WFBS allows you to specify types of sites, such as “social media”, “news”, “alternative lifestyle”, “adult”, and more that you may want to prohibit users from visiting.
- Email filtering is a must, not only can it keep out unwanted & unsolicited email (SPAM!), it can block harmful links and attachments. Again, Trend Micro WFBS Advanced is a great solution for your small and medium business.
This list is by no means a complete checklist, but it will help you get started in analyzing your needs. If you have questions, you may wish to enlist the assistance of a qualified network support specialist. We can help with that and all your computer repair & service needs as well as sales of Trend Micro, Cisco, WatchGuard, SonicWall, Symantec and other products here in Greenville and Upstate of SC. Call 864.990.4748 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or a free consultation!
Be safe out there!