Seeing Real Improvement

By Bob Violino Print this article Print

Enterprises need to deploy a layered defense and make data protection everyone’s business.


Seeing Real Improvement

Companies that have deployed layered security report seeing real improvements in the level of their vulnerability. For instance, Redwood Credit Union, in Santa Rosa, Calif., has built a multilayered defense that includes a first layer consisting of dual firewalls with multiple DMZs (i.e., perimeter networks) to segment traffic, coupled with virtual LANs on switches and a segmented IP network.

At the second layer, the company has a set of intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) that watch all inbound, outbound and cross-network traffic. Redwood also uses an email scanning and spam filtering tool that further reduces threats, along with virus protection on all its PCs and servers.

“We also have an aggressive set of policies on the network, with access restrictions to almost all files and directories on an 'as needed’ basis,” says Tony Hildesheim, senior vice president of IT. “To ensure further protection, we have a set of controls that includes network monitoring and periodic checks and audits.”

Other components of the company’s security framework include central software management; patch management; encrypted hard drives; Internet access monitoring and limitations; and segmented, monitored and controlled network storage.

The efforts at Redwood Credit have paid off. “We have been fortunate to not have had any loss or issues as a result of an attack,” Hildesheim says. “We have been able to stop a number of virus and Trojan attacks, typically at the IDS/IPS device, prior to it attacking a PC or other device. We’re also careful to not draw attention to our organization and to address phishing or other attacks aggressively to ensure that we are not an organization that provides an easy target.”

Hildesheim estimates that his company deals with about 40 attacks monthly—malware, trojans or other viruses—but all of them are averted, largely because of email scanning tools and the local scanning and IDS/IPS that augment the firewall. The company also experiences about 100 "suspicious hits" and about 20 validated hits a month, all of which are averted by firewalls, patching and security procedures.

Having robust security is a high priority for business executives at Redwood Credit Union. “As a financial institution, maintaining the trust of our customers is paramount, and maintaining our reputation is huge,” says Wade Painter, CFO. “We can’t afford to drop the ball anywhere.” The company reports that it has suffered no financial or customer losses because of an intrusion or attack on its systems.

Painter adds that having multiple layers of defense also creates resiliency in systems. “Having a security event doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been compromised,” he points out, “but if you have lousy security, it could make you susceptible to downtime. The resiliency of our systems is hugely important to us, and being available to our customers and employees is critical.”

This article was originally published on 2012-03-13
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