Cyber warfare: How Tight is Your Ship?

A recent issue of The Economist,  the venerable British business publication, discussed the advancing threats from cyberwarfare.  As if IT people don’t have enough to worry about, it had some interesting statistics about infected computers out there on the international grid.  Even here at home, with our higher security standards, millions of US machines are infected with something, creating mass sleeper botnets.  Botnets that nasties from overseas can use to unleash chaos on our power grids, financial databases and just about anything we rely on that’s delivered via the internet.

Here’s an interesting image that shows the distribution of infected machines.  (see the whole earth map image in the article, I just included US & Europe)

As the article says “The internet was designed for convenience and reliability, not security. Yet in wiring together the globe, it has merged the garden and the wilderness. No passport is required in cyberspace. And although police are constrained by national borders, criminals roam free…  Enemy states are no longer on the other side of the ocean, but just behind the firewall. The ill-intentioned can mask their identity and location, impersonate others and con their way into the buildings that hold the digitised wealth of the electronic age: money, personal data and intellectual property.”

Most of this digital mayhem is wrought through malware.  Lots and lots of malware.  Something you need to keep OFF your employees computers, wireless and mobile devices, part of which means having a good wireless policy and a mobile management plan in place. Malware can infect a smartphone almost as easily as a desktop PC.  Here’s an alarming graph of the growth of malware…

The article goes on to discuss how different governments, the US included, are amassing an army of cyber hackers to both defend our national IT infrastructure – and attack, should the need arise.

I think it’s an interesting discussion, because we all know that one of IT’s main concerns has always been security.  (and if it’s not, it should be)   And I feel that the services we deliver play a part in that.  By implementing strong telecom expense control, it frees up IT resources for other areas, like security and business continuity.  A solid telecom inventory management solution also helps keep track of everything you have, so you can identify unused or underused machines and phones, removing them from your hardware pool before they become a problem.   And if you’re not really sure whether you have a “tight ship” or not, maybe you need to reach out for some help.  A telecom audit can usually identify 30% savings or more in your annual telecom budget.  Renegotiate some contracts, get a good handle on your inventory, and then you’ll really know what you have to secure.

To read the rest of the Economist article, click here.