Take A 'Hands-Off' Approach To Network Vulnerability
This systems integrator provides a $40,000 network security solution to a high-profile executive coaching organization.
Network security continues to be one of the hottest topics impacting the business landscape today. In fact, vulnerability and threat management is a concern being addressed at every level from simple, home Internet access to the most complex corporate networks. New threats are continually released, and businesses must be prepared to address these risks in the fastest manner possible.
Technology Information Group (TIG) began as a reseller in 1983. As technology continued to grow in complexity, TIG morphed into a total solutions provider, capitalizing on opportunities in areas from managed services to network storage and security. "Unless you have a huge internal infrastructure, you can't have expertise across that wide a set of solutions in-house anymore — it's just too expensive," says Jon Anderson, security solutions architect for TIG. Today, as a systems integrator, TIG boasts annual revenues averaging $300 million.
Recently, TIG provided a $40,000 network security solution to a large corporate learning organization based in San Diego. The organization provides professional coaching and mentoring to some of the highest-profile executives in the nation, and vast amounts of PII (personally identifiable information) reside on its networks. Protecting the network, and thus client security, was critically important.
Scheduled manual system scans and patches had the organization's security administrator sinking under the burden of managing vulnerabilities. The company's launch of a portal using VMware and the pure dynamics of virtual technologies compounded the problem exponentially. "Suddenly, you have machines continually popping in and out of the network and not going through the traditional change-control process," says Anderson. "Cloned machines and virtual networks take what was already a manual, tedious process and make it absolutely excruciating." For TIG's client, the quest was to identify, prioritize, and manage network vulnerabilities quickly.
Promote The Benefits Of Automated Network Vulnerability Scanning
TIG engaged McAfee for an on-site demo of FoundScan, an automated, scalable, and customizable device that resides on the network and scans for vulnerabilities. "We set up the test over the course of a week, but FoundScan will tell you within only a few hours exactly what is going on in your network," says Anderson. Reports generated from test information expose threats or vulnerabilities that are 'missed' during the lag time experienced in a manual, scheduled scan program. "Once they saw the metrics the device could provide, they could easily see the value."
TIG spent about a week with the end user during the installation to be sure network information, such as IP (Internet Protocol) address ranges, were correctly programmed into the device. The security administrator programs the frequency of the automated scans, the reports to be generated, and even the veracity with which the scan is conducted. Once set, the device goes out and 'attacks' the network, searching for any weakness that could be exploited by a new threat or vulnerability. A direct link to McAfee keeps the FoundScan device perpetually updated regarding the latest threats and vulnerabilities. "If a new vulnerability came out today, the security administrator would be getting reports from the scan by tomorrow," says Anderson. The near-immediate identification of threats also provides the opportunity for a priority response when needed, such as in the case of a worm or other active code infecting the network. Additionally, reports generated from the scans help the security administrator substantiate device value and productivity by tracking and recording when threats are discovered on the network, as well as when and how the threat was addressed.
For TIG, being able to expose customers to potential risks using a device such as FoundScan has been a great segue into conversations with other customers. "We're talking about managing network vulnerabilities not just in a reactive way, but being truly proactive and building an entire system around a security framework," says Anderson. With data security and compliance issues such as SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) now pushing into the SMB marketplace, these technologies have opened the door to unlimited future opportunity across all verticals.