Monthly Archives: June 2011

Hackers highlight importance of IT security


Hacking has hit the headlines recently with the attack on Sony’s systems, and the personal information of millions of its customers being compromised.   It has sent a shockwave through the IT sector, and has brought this issue to the attention of consumers; many of whom thought their information was safe in the hands of a corporation the size of Sony.

Recent research suggests that more than half of business executives believe external threats pose more of a problem than internal ones. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are a growing concern among business leaders.

Netmetix Limited

Smaller companies need to pay heed to the warnings signs that this sends out.  Breaches in IT security are a threat to every business with any level of IT infrastructure that has access to the Internet, including intranets, extranets, remote working, and so on. For example, we recently worked with a company where someone had hacked into the server via a commonly used network port. They had installed a hacking tool that would then probe further external addresses for weaknesses and reinstall itself on those sites. With each successful attack, the tool would record the details of the network breached. On further investigation we found all the records with lists of IP addresses, usernames and passwords of all networks that had been accessed. Whilst the consequences may have been very serious, simple measures could have prevented all of these particular attacks from happening in the first place.  In this instance, we alerted the company to the breach and helped them to protect their systems from future breaches and cyber attacks.

This incident and the Sony security breach highlights what is an increasingly worrying trend with hackers and spammers becoming ever more sophisticated and devious in how they manage to get around firewalls, anti-virus software and malware blocking software.  Often the attacks are covert and a computer user is not aware of the attack until a seemingly innocent file is executed; allowing entry to hackers and viruses by the back door.  Removable drives add to the potential threats, especially where there is no policy within a business guarding against the use of memory sticks and other removable drives and where these can be used.  And this is without addressing the issues of data security and leakage (which is the subject for another blog in itself)!

So, what can you do to protect your small business IT systems?  What you must remember is that the software and systems to beat IT security breaches are also becoming increasingly sophisticated, and with some forethought, planning and early action you can protect your IT, and keep it safe from future potential threats.  This will ensure that you guard against network downtime, ensure business continuity and protect your corporate brand.

There are a number of key things a business can do to guard against threats.  This includes keeping operating system and web browser software up to date with software patches and updates, installing a hardware firewall, investing in good quality anti-virus software. Likewise, using a reputable Internet-based spam filtering service and a good quality email filtering software are good starting points to stay protected.

Netmetix is celebrating its tenth year in the IT industry.  We’ve seen many changes in that time, and also helped many businesses to protect themselves against security breaches and threats.  The peace of mind we have provided our clients is invaluable.

There are simply too many areas to look at in depth in one blog, but for an overview of how you can protect yourself against IT threats, you can download our new ebook ‘What’s Bugging You:  An introductory guide to IT security to protect your business’. Our book is aimed at giving businesses an insight into network security and what measures to take to avoid being harmed by the hackers.

By Paul Blore