Securing the network in 2009

Peering into their crystal balls the other day, the guys at network security vendor SonicWALL came up with a list of predictions for their field in the coming year.

Web 2.0 tops their list of villains, as it should. Sure, Web 2.0 technologies like Web-based apps and social networking promote sharing and user-uploaded content and good stuff like that.

However, they cause bandwidth overload and security threats, SonicWALL says.

Streaming video and Flash gobble up bandwidth. And Flash has become a favorite of the bad guys because it’s so widespread that it gets past just about any security and is a great vector for distributing malware.

Also, Web 2.0 apps are fertile ground for exploits, because they are based on user collaboration and user input and there’s no way of ascertaining how safe users are. That means security admins have no control over what is being uploaded or collaborated on.

Malware authors have become experts in using Web 2.0 technologies such as AJAX, which creates rich Internet applications. These open up your system to security breaches, and it would be wise to implement Web filters and gateways to prevent the bad guys from invading your system through them.

Manage your apps properly to prevent bandwidth overload and maintain security, SonicWALL recommends.

As if that’s not enough, the adoption of software as a service (SaaS), and service oriented architecture (SOA) will, like the Web 2.0 technologies, as well as social networking, let bad guys bring in their toys, and SonicWALL recommends deep packet inspection in these cases. Packet sniffing isn’t going to be enough, SonicWALL says.

The increasing sophistication of hackers and malware authors will add to network security managers’ headaches. Your firewall isn’t going to be enough to protect you, SonicWALL says, because the bad guys will use more techniques to evade it.

And port-hopping, which used to be a term reserved for sailors until the advent of personal computing, will contribute to network security woes.

All these factors will push corporations to increase their adoption of unified threat management (UTM) solutions that take a layered approach to network management and security, SonicWALL says. We’ve known for years that a layered approach is best, but how many enterprises adopt it?

Watch your networks closely — they’re at the heart of your enterprise.

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