CIO

New Ways to Approach Security in a Web 2.0 World

Web 2.0 technologies have ushered in a new age of security threats. Brian Foster, vice president of product management with Symantec, shares his insight on what you need to do to safeguard your company in today's business environment

Business isn't what it used to be.

Connectivity is driving increased mobility, online interaction, and collaboration. Communication is the foundation of business. Employees are scattered, and they use multiple devices and applications at multiple locations. Collaboration is enabling new levels of productivity, blurring the lines between end users and enterprises. Transactions, and the sensitive information they include, are moving online. In this new Web 2.0 world, people are the perimeter.

Unfortunately, hackers and cybercriminals are keeping pace in this new domain. Today's attackers are increasingly sophisticated and organized. In fact, they have begun to adopt methods similar to traditional software development and business practices. As security measures are developed and implemented to protect computers and the data stored on and transmitted over them, attackers are adapting new techniques and strategies to circumvent them. And, as attack activity has become more profit-driven, many aspects of it have become professionalized and commercialized. In many ways, today's attacker tools are a reflection of a burgeoning underground economy that requires specialized tools to meet the demands of a highly lucrative industry.

Worse yet, outsider threats are only part of the problem. Enterprises are also vulnerable to threats from within the organization, whether from a disgruntled employee who steals sensitive customer information or a distracted contractor who misplaces a laptop filled with confidential but unencrypted data.

Clearly, in such an interconnected business world, yesterday's approach to security is no longer effective. Just as new ways of doing business were ushered in with Web 2.0, next-generation security practices must be adopted to ensure a more enlightened era of enterprise security. Call it Security 2.0; an evolution in security that focuses not simply on protecting systems and keeping hackers out but also on securing information and interactions. It takes a more dynamic view of security, with technologies and processes that adapt to the reputation or behavior of devices, people, and applications. Policy drives Security 2.0, technology enables it, and operations strengthen it.

Protection Policy

By design, security policies document the rules by which an organization defines a base level of desired security. In a Web 2.0 world, security policies must focus not simply on protecting devices but on securing information. After all, the primary purpose of the devices and systems that comprise an IT infrastructure is to carry and contain the organization's most valuable asset: its information.

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Consequently, a security policy must help organizations manage and control both inbound and outbound content to protect them from the inadvertent or intentional distribution of or access to confidential and sensitive information. To that end, a variety of solutions are available to enable organizations to know where their information is, establish policies for accessing it, filter sensitive content in electronic messages, and manage and control database exposure risk. Together with employee security training and awareness, these solutions can protect against data loss.

Security and Risk

The growing sophistication of today's attacks calls for more scalable security. Enterprises now need proactive security measures that can adapt to protect against the most proximate and pressing risks the particular organization faces. For example, while traditional antivirus, antispyware, and other signature-based protection measures, which are primarily reactive, may have been sufficient to protect an organization's vital resources a few years ago, they need to be combined with more proactive behavior-based technologies in the Web 2.0 world.

A more effective security approach addresses a range of considerations, from the level of risk associated with a threat to the information requiring protecting and the reputation of those who attempt to access the organization's systems and information. In a Security 2.0 environment, proactive technologies automatically analyze application behaviors and network communications to detect and block suspicious activities, while device and application control features allow administrators to deny specific device and application activities deemed high risk. These next-generation technologies can even block specific actions based on the location of the user. Better yet, an endpoint that is not in compliance with security policies is automatically remediated, thereby further protecting corporate information assets.

Standard Operating Procedure

Perhaps one of the most significant changes that Security 2.0 calls for is the need to turn security into a standard business process. Although the traditional approach to enterprise security has involved individual groups with an organization working in silos, with often disconnected processes and technologies, a next-generation security strategy combines standard security with data management, thereby embedding security throughout the organization's business processes. These processes are then standardized and automated to drive down the cost of day-to-day security activities while also providing more proactive protection.

With enterprises facing both internal and external threats to information in an increasingly connected, collaborative Web 2.0, a new approach to protecting information and interactions is required.

Security 2.0 represents the future of security. It will enable organizations to not only protect their information assets against a growing range of threats but also to take advantage of new opportunities in an interconnected environment. This new approach to protection moves security from simply locking down systems to helping keep users and information protected.

Evolutionary and dynamic, Security 2.0 is essential in a Web 2.0 world.