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Raising the bar in enterprise security

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Patrick Evans, regional director for Africa at Symantec, explains why organisations should rethink their current security strategies and move towards a unified proactive approach to end point protection.

Today most company executives use more than one device to communicate and access business information. Computers, laptops and smartphones have increased the pace of business, creating a complex network more vulnerable to security threats associated with many and varied access end points.
Cybercrime is an actual profession and criminals are using business-like practices to successfully accomplish their criminal activities. Cybercrime has become a flourishing underground economy that steals billions of dollars annually, and criminals are becoming more professional in developing their attack and targeting methods . Technology is developed to seek out and exploit vulnerable access points.
Once the weak access points are detected various methods are used to penetrate these company networks and access sensitive data such as citizen records, customer information, supplier details – all of which can contain credit card numbers and bank account numbers. In fact, citizen data stolen from company databases, depending on the level of detail, sells at $15 dollars per person through underground economy services. While this sounds rather minuscule, thousands of citizen identities are needed in money laundering operations to move billions of dollars from one country to another without being detected.  
Most large institutions have increased their IT security in an as-needed, reactive way; as their IT systems have expanded and become more complex, so the complexity of their security has increased. The expansion of the corporate network to the personal mobile devices has seen a blurring of the line between business devices for private use and those for business use. Security for the individual, therefore, is as important as security for the organisation.
Given the complexity and the reach of the corporate network, the traditional approach to security – point solutions in the form of firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, data leakage protection and Internet security – serves only to increase the complexity and the cost of securing the IT infrastructure.
Companies are now taking a holistic approach to endpoint security that effectively protects their organisation from threats at all levels. The thinking is shifting from security as a means of keeping bad stuff out, to creating a secure environment within which to do business. This means that instead of reacting to security threats as they arise, the company builds security into its infrastructure, and what better place to start than the endpoint – the entry and exit points of information and communication.
In this way information and access is protected against known and unknown threats. Each endpoint needs to be protected from viruses and spam, from unauthorized users entering the network and from data that has not been checked as safe. Instead of deploying one product to tackle each of these problems – the traditional approach to security, a single product exists to achieve complete endpoint protection.
Immediately the cost of such protection comes down and managing a single end-point is simplified. The time spent on maintaining and monitoring endpoints is significantly reduced. System performance, compromised by diverse multi-vendor products, is improved with a single product.
The consolidation of a security strategy into a single unified endpoint security architecture has many benefits. It enables operational efficiencies such as a single communication method and content delivery across all of the users and devices within the organisation. Policy and service configuration can be performed globally at a single point on the client or at the management server, and automated security updates to all users on the network provide protection from the latest known and unknown threats.
The IT security landscape has changed dramatically. Many of sophisticated threats evade traditional security solutions, leaving organisations vulnerable to data theft and manipulation, disruption of business-critical services, and damage to corporate brand and reputation. Financially motivated attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in endpoint devices on company networks are a reality today and organisations are rethinking their traditional security strategies to remain protected.