Overlaid at every level Featured

6:15am EDT September 21, 2006
There are many ways technology has changed the way companies do business today. While advances have made more information available to business leaders in less time, they have also presented challenges to people in charge of providing security for a company’s business information.

“Security has become much more pervasive than it was just a few years ago,” says Larry Perdue, security solutions specialist for Berbee Information Networks. “The days of placing a firewall at the ingress of your network and being able to forget about security are gone.”

Smart Business talked to Perdue about the importance of integrating a company’s security system in today’s technology.

How has company security changed as computers have evolved?
Security has become an ‘overlay’ technology. It has become something that should be a consideration at every level of the organization and whenever a new technology is deployed.

Any technology that is deployed has some type of security aspect to consider. Wireless LAN (local area network), IPT (Internet-protocol telephony) and application development — just to name a few — all have security aspects and concerns that should be addressed. You also have the regulatory and legislative requirements that are mandated to certain types of companies. I don’t see this lessening over the coming years, I only see it increasing. The best way to alleviate the burden on both management and staff is to try and stay out in front of it.

How can a support company integrate a company’s security system?
The most effective way to expand your discussions beyond IT and also convince other business units within the organization that they have skin in the game as well, because they absolutely do.

You get much less resistance when you show them that you aren’t doing things to make their life more difficult but to reduce liabilities and prevent a situation that could potentially be very embarrassing to the business unit or the organization as a whole.

What are IP telephony applications?
The versatility of the IP platform allows for some great functionality advantages over a traditional phone system. Some perfect examples are the applications that Berbee has developed for use with Cisco’s IPT solution. Informacast, which allows audio streams or messages to be pushed simultaneously to multiple phones, is one. We have also developed an Informacast desktop agent that allows a PC to receive the same stream as the phone. Remote phone control is another application that Berbee has developed to allow for remote troubleshooting and training for IPT environments. The IPT applications and the added functionality they offer are another advantage of using an IP-based system.

Are a company’s business secrets safer now than they were 20 years ago?
I would say that some organizations are more aware of the effects of security than they were. However, security is not a single product or policy document. It is a system — and that system is only as strong as the weakest link.

All of the security technology in the world won’t defend against someone who is able to ‘social engineer’ their way into getting information from a help-desk operator by posing as an internal executive who needs his password reset so he can access some data before the board meeting that starts in an hour.

That is a people issue and a training issue. It comes from raising awareness throughout the organization. I think it would be naive to say that information is safer now because it seems like we have become numb to hearing about data breaches in the news. Those stories have become almost a daily occurrence. The instances where sensitive data is posted without any type of prior breach are acts of omission that point to larger problems within the organization.

Are integrated security solutions for companies of all sizes or just the larger ones?
It is a mistake to think that it is only a concern for large enterprises. Small and medium-sized businesses are also conducting business on the Internet; they exchange information electronically with customers and partners, they have outside contractors and consultants connecting to their network and they have employees who use company-owned laptops and PDAs to connect to unsecured networks in airports or coffee shops. Each of these poses a serious security concern, and I think you would be hard-pressed to find a company of any size that doesn’t fit at least one of those categories.

This all goes back to what I mentioned about security being an overlay technology. It should be considered at every level in order to be effective.

LARRY PERDUE is security solutions specialist for Berbee Information Networks. Reach him at (513) 677-4121 or larry.perdue@berbee.com.