Protecting the end-user

Protecting the end-user

Sometimes security means protecting end-users from themselves

The next invasion(s)

Today's invasions are led by video services, SMS texting, and social-networking sites. Is it a YouTube video or a malware program codec? Like it or not, your current and future employees will be engaging in social-networking sites, such as MySpace, LiveJournal, Facebook, Plaxo, and so on, and their cell phone more than they interact with real live human beings. If you have teenage kids, you already know what I mean. But it isn't just kid's play; one large financial entity recently used virtual world Second Life to host an internal company meeting. Hey, did my avatar just pat my boss on the butt?

Various social-networking leaders are even developing APIs that will allow an increased Web 2.0 social-networking experience, social-network-specific applications, and cross-service communications. All of these are great things to hack. And let's not forget VoIP programs (such as Skype), iPods, iPhones, Gphones, or whatever. If you're in IT, you will always have to defend end-users and the organization against themselves.

Once you note that some insecure technology or program is taking over your environment, either spend all your efforts to eradicate it, or accept it. If you have to accept it (because, for example, the CEO just posted his resume to Facebook), work to make it as safe as possible. Here are some tips:

  • Start with end-user education.
  • If the free program they are downloading is insecure, offer a more secure, "corporate standard" alternative that interfaces with the product they like.
  • Use scripts or group policies to secure the product's installation settings.
  • Buy or use antimalware products that work with the product you are trying to protect.
  • And in the end, if your end-users ignore all your advice and intentionally install potentially malicious programs, that doesn't mean it isn't your problem.

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