More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security

Cormac Foster, Journalist, Analyst, Tech Manager | 1/22/2013 | 40 comments

Cormac Foster
Malware is going to be ugly in 2013. BitDefender is already calling this "The Year of Mobile Malware," which should send shivers down the spines of anyone playing with BYOD.

In addition to all the usual PC-based viruses and Trojans, IT now has to add rogue cellphones and tablets from the unprotected wild to its list of threats. Device-level anti-malware is more important than ever.

Still, it's easy to get too wrapped up in end-point anti-malware at the expense of your broader network protection strategy. Two recent Gartner blogs have pointed out very different vulnerabilities that are equally important, and a good security system needs to address them all.

In Playing Chess with APTs, Gartner's Dan Blum argues that fortifying firewalls and locking down end points are noble goals, but by themselves, they provide an outdated and insufficient security design. To Blum, the enterprise needs to extend its reach beyond the firewall through Secure Web and Email Gateways, while simultaneously developing internal procedures for sensing, analyzing, and sharing data about threats that do make it past the perimeter.

Blum raises excellent points. Attackers' tactics evolve daily, and the volume and types of network traffic passing through networks grow every year, yet our moat-and-castle defenses haven't changed in two decades. Spreading your security footprint and gathering intelligence quickly are the new keys to survival. Blum told me more in an email exchange:

Companies should develop operational efficiency on stopping malware. This means not only deploying state of the art protection tools, but also employing change management, virtual re-imaging and integrity monitoring technologies to bulletproof the critical data center environment. But even with that, assume that sophisticated and persistent groups of adversaries can reconnoiter and work around any static defense. If your organization is thought to be at heightened risk of targeted attacks, also deploy advanced security monitoring tools and subscribe to threat intelligence services.

Malware isn't your only risk, and it might not be the biggest. In More on Internal Data Loss Incidents, Anton Chuvakin cautions against sloppy policies that could (and probably will) cause more damage than any super-virus. Even the most hardened perimeter is useless if everything on the inside is wide open.

The highest-profile hack of this century was allegedly conducted by a single man with a recordable CD. According to charges filed by the US government, Private First Class Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of sensitive and classified files and cables.

How was an enlisted soldier able to access that much data? Poor planning and lazy design.

Any system that allows partners and employees free reign is a lost cause long before the malware arrives. Social engineering, spear-phishing, physical device theft, and other non-malware attacks can bypass even the strongest external barriers, and businesses need to be able to identify and contain threats when they arise.

Malware is important, and building a strong fence against it is critical, but every fence has holes. To be effective, your business needs a holistic security policy that does what it can to minimize intrusions, locks down intruders when they get through the gates, and provides the information you need to shut down the threat as quickly as possible.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
Joe Stanganelli   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/30/2013 12:14:56 AM
Re: Knowns and unknowns
Fascinating, DBK.  What's the name of the app?

(Worth mentioning, also, that with some software/systems there are exploits that allow authentication to be faked -- but point well taken.)
Joe Stanganelli   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/30/2013 12:12:27 AM
Re: Knowns and unknowns
Hi, Hospice.

The point I was making was that if you are non-BYOD, then you may well have LESS of an idea of what's on your network than an organization with well implemented BYOD because you are probably less prepared for noncompliant employees using their own devices under the radar.

And if a noncompliant employee's personal device becomes compromised, how likely are they to step forward, alert the IT department, and by doing so admit that they violated company policy?
Susan Nunziata   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/29/2013 12:27:40 AM
Re: BYOD and Malware
@Cormac: Thanks for the additional resource. Definitely something worth exploring further.
Damian Romano   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/28/2013 8:24:56 AM
Re: Security, the afterthought.
@nasimson - I think the debate is only as valid as it understood. In the end, security is an insurance policy. There is risk in anything we do. It just all comes down to the need for it. Similar to home security systems, most people don't think they need one until they (or someone else) gets robbed.
nasimson   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/27/2013 12:35:25 PM
Re: Security, the afterthought.
@Damian: From your perspective, I guess it really is. This is a long debate and a few good facts might not justify it that well.

Cormac Foster   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/27/2013 1:55:28 AM
Re: BYOD and Malware
@Susan Not offhand, but I imagine there's some pretty good vendor-sponsored research out there that gives an overview, albeit with an obvious bias. One of the cross-device toolsets like Dell KACE ( would probably give a fairly broad overview.
User Ranking: Blogger
Susan Nunziata   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/26/2013 9:07:36 PM
Re: BYOD and Malware
@Cormac: Great point. It would be interesting to see them compared. I don't know of anyone who has done that kind of comparison. Do you?
Damian Romano   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/26/2013 2:06:21 PM
Re: Security, the afterthought.
@nasimson - I think there's a few ways to look at the issue, and that's one of them. I can remember over a decade ago when I worked in retail banking and would ask people for their ID when withdrawling money that most of them would get aggitated. From their perspective it was "inconvenient" to have to reach into their wallet and get their ID. But what they were missing was the fact that if I didn't ask for their ID that anyone could come in a w/d money from their account. And after the fact they understood and were willing. So in the end, you're right. But it's all a matter of how you look at it.
nasimson   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/26/2013 12:52:13 PM
Re: Security, the afterthought.
@Damian: What if the security is our convenience. If it wasn't, why would companies be spending thousands of dollars trying to eradicate every single bit of virus in their network. OR even on an individual level, why would we be installing antivirus softwares just trying to get rid of malicious softwares/viruses etc.
nasimson   More Than Malware: A Holistic Approach to Security   1/26/2013 12:46:42 PM
Well, where there is good, there has to be bad. That's how nature works. I guess, same is the case here. An alarming situation nevertheless. Serious action has to be taken against it or this plague will spread out soon leaving us with faulty OSs' and malware infected files.
Page 1 / 4   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Cormac Foster
Cormac Foster   1/25/2013   28 comments
This is supposed to be a big year for identity management. IDC thinks we might all be logging onto the corporate network with our Facebook logins. Wired Magazine has declared passwords ...
Cormac Foster   1/16/2013   19 comments
CIOs and other IT leaders are increasingly being asked to work with colleagues across the organization to develop ways to mine structured and unstructured data in order to draw actionable ...
Cormac Foster   1/8/2013   5 comments
The last time we touched on software defined networking (SDN), or virtual networking, the industry was just lining up behind the OpenFlow standard that now defines it. By the end of 2012, ...
Cormac Foster   6/22/2011   5 comments
What do ISO 9001, HIPAA, PCI, Sarbanes Oxley, and a weekly drop-ship of 25 teddy bears to Des Moines every Tuesday have in common? They're all promises to do a certain thing a certain way ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.