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Protecting the security that guards computer networks

Bibhu Ranjan Mishra  |  Bangalore 

Regular health check-up of anti-virus software can save networks from malicious attacks.

Regular monitoring of security mechanisms that guard computer networks and applications in an organisation is necessary to prevent catastrophe.

Such monitoring can be done using security testing mechanisms such as vulnerability testing, intrusion detection and penetration testing. These services are offered by most anti-virus software makers including McAfee and Symantec. Security assessment testing services providers including Paladion, iViZ, Spirent, Portcullis, Assurent and Security Brigade also provide these services.

The security threat landscape is increasing across the board, along with security spending, so the market for such services is huge. The global security and vulnerability management market is estimated to be over $10 billion and is growing 20 per cent year-on-year.

The losses due to identity theft in the US alone is estimated to be around $48 billion per annum. Also, the new-age hackers are using newer methods to break into vulnerable systems. This has resulted in a significant increase in the number of security breaches over the last few years.

Vishal Dhupar, managing director, Symantec India, said: “Information risk management is the most critical element for any organisation, especially for an enterprise that manages huge data containing confidential information. While the anti-virus software helps in keeping the malicious codes out, security assessment at regular interval helps organisations stay aware about any kind of network vulnerability and how their protection shield stands to face those.”

In the first three quarters of 2008-09, the computer emergency response team that monitors computer security attacks across the world has discovered about 6,058 vulnerabilities worldwide, which is expected to cross 8,000 by the year-end.

Bala Girisaballa, vice-president, product management and marketing, iViZ Techno Solutions, says the anti-virus software meant to protect the system from malicious attacks often fall prey to new kind of cyber attacks.

“An attacker first crafts an email with malicious payload and sends it to the target user. When the email is scanned by the vulnerable anti-virus software, it can either crash the software or execute arbitrary code resulting in complete security bypass and remote system compromise,” Girisaballa adds.

Recently, iViZ conducted a study. It found that at least six commercial and open source anti-virus software firms are vulnerable to such attacks. They include AVG, F-Secure, Sophos, ClamAV, BitDefender & Avast. “Some other anti-virus software could also be vulnerable to such attack as our research was not extensive, and did not include all the security software providers,” says Bikash Barai, CEO, iViZ.

iViZ has announced that it will offer penetration testing (one type of security assessment and testing) services on-demand. They can also set a time based on their convenience. The test will be carried out remotely by iViZ professionals, thereby saving clients a lot of time and money they would have spent by availing of it as a service.

First Published: Thu, December 18 2008. 00:00 IST