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Preventing System Break Ins


System break ins can occur in many ways invariably with adverse side effects. This article by Andrew Rimmer of Secure Assure describes types of system break in methods, what system break ins can mean to you and your business, and what you can do to prevent them from occurring.



There are many instances of “system break ins” reported in the media, but what does this actually mean, and what does this mean to us as individuals or organisations. This short article provides a summary of break in types and potential outcomes resulting from them. It also summarizes what can be done to prevent them from happening in the first instance.

Types Of Break In

On the surface, it appears that there are many types of break in that can put your data or personal information at risk, in practical terms they can be simplified into two areas, attacks using a computer network, or by intruders and insiders.

Attacks that are carried out using a computer network, either internally using your local wired or wireless networks, or externally via the internet or unsecured wireless access points can be using viruses or other malware that need you to do something like opening up an email to carry out the attack. They can also be via software toolkits that will try and break-in without you even doing anything.

Attacks by intruders or insiders are less well publicised than those carried out by “hackers”. The unfortunate reality is that people you can see and hear pose a far bigger threat than all the hackers put together.

Whether its by stealing data using USB sticks and external email transfers, or by breaking in and stealing the actual systems holding your data, physical threats are of significant concern.

Impacts From a Break In

Data corruption or theft are the most common outcomes from a system break in, and usually have the following impacts on individuals and businesses.

Personal Distress: If you keep customer data on your systems, and you lose that data. It can be used to carry out identity theft etc., which can cause long term distress to the individuals in question.

Reputational Damage: If customers find out that you have lost their data records, or infomration about their businesses, then thay aer unlikely to remain your clients much longer.

Operational Headaches: Recovering from data thefts are expensive in terms of time and money, whether it’’s rebuilding your systems or dealing with court cases from irate customers.

What Can You Do To Prevent a Break In

Review where you keep your data. If you keep your data on an open network share, or on a server in a room where someone can easily steal the system, think about moving the server into a secure room, and applying usernames and strong passwords to network shares or user accounts on the system.

Review the value of the data. If loss of the data means you would be reputationally or finaincially ruined, then think about spending a commensurate amount of money to protect that data. Take into account possible threats to the data such as internet hackers, passers by, casual staff or disgruntled employees.

Review how you secure the data. Improve access controls to the data, for example lock the cabinets where servers are housed, prevent staff from using USB sticks to move data about the office, secure networks where the servers are kept etc.

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