Posted on: March 1, 2016
Internet Security is More than Chain Mail Protection
Posted by: Phil Stalnaker
What is the fascination with chain letters? They are not a new phenomenon brought about by email and the digital age; no, they are as old as the post communication itself. It is thought that chain mail has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, but theory states that they were at least referred to as chain letters as early as the late 1800s. “One notorious early example was the “Prosperity Club” or “Send-a-Dime” letter. This letter started in Denver, Colorado in 1935, based on an earlier luck letter. It soon swamped the Denver post office with hundreds of thousands of letters before spilling into St. Louis and other cities” (Wikipedia). Though they do a good job playing off of people’s superstition, you would think by now most of humanity has figured it out and given it up. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and is one of the reasons that your company’s internet security may be at risk.
The Dangers of the Internet
Increasing options of usability and convenience when it comes to our computers and the internet have open a bevy of opportunities for black hats, or hackers, to work to gain control of our information. Whether they use that information to steal money, hold it for ransom, use it for their own ends or even just create chaos, the fields for hackers are riper than ever for harvest. Cloud storage as only added avenues for the information thieves. How safe is your internet security? “The use of Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Google Drive and other cloud storage services by individuals and organizations to access documents in multiple locations means that cyber-criminals need to only infect one device to get access to a whole trove data” (Appriver).
Imagine your computer as an office building with sixty-five thousand different doors. How do you control physical security? What happens when/if an unauthorized person gets in? Do you manage it with one key? What about getting from one side of the building in a response to something happening on the other side? Managing plant security is a major endeavor; one that can lead to huge financial loss if not secured properly. It’s common knowledge that it is a bad idea to take risks on physical security like that. But your internet security isn’t any different, and in reality, it is much more vital to manage.
This can often seem like a hopeless endeavor, after all, how can you protect something that is impossible to see or touch? The message is simple; you don’t try to do it by yourself. You need a security system – one that is not going to let you down. A simple term for the most important piece of hardware for your internet security is—firewall. A good firewall can do multiple things for your internet connection, including creating dedicated pathways for your internet traffic and blocking websites that you don’t want your employees visiting during the workday, but that is just the icing on the cake. A proper firewall acts first and foremost as the lock on the doors to your office. That is the device that will protect and secure your company from internet invaders. It is vital to understand, however, that not all firewalls are created equal. There are two main types of firewalls, and they are easy to tell apart. Some you can purchase and plug in right out of the box, others require a license subscription.
Firewalls that Help Internet Security
The lower-end firewalls are simple plug-and-play devices that will act as your locked door with minimal setup. However, once something gets in the door it will not do you any good. Simple example – you have a laptop that you use at work. If you take that laptop home and plug it into another wireless signal, then, while on the second network, pull in a virus. You may not notice the virus right away, so as per your normal, the next day that laptop comes into work with you. Once your laptop is connected to the Wi-Fi, that virus—on the low-end firewall—is now free to roam around your entire internet network. Firewalls that are only locked doors cannot protect you if you bring it in. And it’s not just laptops. How many times have you given out Wi-Fi access to guests? To your employees? Every phone, computer or piece of wearable technology that has access to your network and comes in and out of the building brings risk and renders a low-end firewall useless against them.
This is why, in general, we recommend a higher-end firewall (one that includes a license subscription) because it also comes with software that can quarantine, attack and protect against attacks once they get inside the firewall. Look at this in the same way you protect your computer with anti-virus software. If you don’t pay a license subscription fee for the anti-virus, then it is safe to assume that it is not protecting you in the current, as the software must find and update itself with new definitions to continue proper protection. This is why you want to “adopt layered, redundant IT security solutions to protect your organization’s network. If the bad guys’ malware-laced .zip attachment labeled “funny cat gif” never makes it into your intern’s inbox, he can’t open it and inadvertently infect your network. Likewise, if you have Web protection, you won’t have to worry about him downloading malware when he’s surfing the Web” (Appriver).
Those chain letters still exist and are incredibly annoying, but they do not have to pose a threat to your company’s internet security. Make sure you are protected and the hardware you use can accomplish the tasks you want it to perform.