Hot Stuff: Tools for Protecting Laptops
In response to a recent article for Web site SearchSecurity (http://www.searchsecurity.com), Jeff Perry, Director of Channel Sales for Fiberlink Communications Corporation shared some information about his company’s managed security services. They’re designed to assure that “laptops remain secure no matter where and how the user connects, be it, via dial-up, broadband or Wi-Fi” (to quote from his e-mail to me). His message came in response to my discussion of problems that some companies had in the wake of Blaster and Nachi, where their internal networks came through unscathed, but where mobile sales and technical staff experienced a nearly 100% infection rate.
Obviously, companies that allow computers out the door have to give security and protection serious consideration to avoid falling victim to this phenomenon. At the barest minimum, Microsoft’s recommendation for protecting PC’s should be followed to the letter (http://www.microsoft.com/security/protect):
· Use an Internet Firewall
· Get Computer Updates
· Use Up-to-date Antivirus Software
If only implemented exactly as directed, most of the mobile machines that fell prey to these worms would have been rendered immune to infection.
The problem with the foregoing strategy is that it puts implementation, enforcement, and update in the hands of the end users. For those responsible, savvy, and obsessive enough to comply with such directives completely, this works like a charm. But many mobile workers are too harried, too pre-occupied with other aspects of their jobs, and insufficiently technically savvy to feel comfortable taking custody of such a process.
That’s where managed security solutions, like those from Fiberlink, come into play. They offer a “Mobile Professionals” solution that takes over these functions for individuals who carry laptops, that enforces system checks before allowing them to attach to internal networks (to keep infected systems outside the perimeter, where they have less chances to spread their contagions further), and that requires end-users to employ secure remote access tools and technologies to link their laptops to company networks. You can read the specifics of the Fiberlink solution online (http://www.fiberlink.com/solutions/mobile.htm), but the broad outlines are pretty clear. A quick hop to Google reveals that Fiberlink is not alone in offering solutions for this need; I was able to identify over 100 similar products in under 10 minutes searching on “laptop security solution.”
If your company or organization uses laptops, and you have security responsibility, some kind of security management solution for those machines is probably worth investigating. I’d recommend starting with your current vendors and asking them what kinds of solutions they can add to whatever current mix of products and services they’re already providing for you. If you don’t like what you find (or must pay), my search convinces me it won’t be too hard to find suitable alternatives.