Assessing Server Security


Analysts at Chicago financial firm William Blair believe that Equifax’s costs tied to dealing with last year’s data breach could run between $200 million and $300 million1 – and that figure is after insurance coverage is applied. While this was a particularly high-profile (and costly) breach, it was only one of 1,766 reported worldwide that occurred in 2017, according to Gemalto’s Data Breach Database. And the information harvested in the Equifax incident is just some of the estimated 9.7 billion data records that have been lost or stolen since 2013.2

It’s no wonder, then, that a recent survey by KPMG revealed that CIOs believe that cybersecurity vulnerability is at an all-time high.3 Compounding this concern is the fact that 82% of the IT decision-makers interviewed for the 2016 report, Hacking the Skills Shortage agreed that they face a shortage of cybersecurity skills when hiring personnel. That combination can keep any CIO up at night; and underscores the growing need for a system that is secure by design.

Threats Inside and Out

When they hear “security breach”, most people instantly conjure up an image of the stereotypical hacker boogeyman – a sinister figure breaking into a system from a shadowy basement lair. But while outsider cyberattacks do tend to be the most high-profile (and often the most costly), the bulk of security breaches actually come from within. In the 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, IBM reported that 60% of all breaches were inside jobs. Some of those were inadvertent, caused by employee negligence or ignorance. Others are hybrid “insider/outsider” intrusions, such as when credentials are harvested by an external attacker via social engineering to gain an insider level of access. However, three-quarters were the result of attacks mounted by rogue insiders with malicious intent. So while it is certainly important to protect from outside intrusions, at least equal consideration must be given to threats inside an organization.

The Right Protection in the Right Places – Built In

Too frequently, companies tend to focus most of their resources on software security – while neglecting hardware and firmware vulnerabilities. Breaches in these areas are particularly hard to detect – and especially dangerous. The system’s engine resides here, and once an invader controls the engine, they can do anything they want.  This powerful vulnerability is what makes it crucial for security to go beyond the infrastructure equivalent of buying a lock on the door. In reality, it takes a system designed with security in mind from end-to-end to fully address these top concerns:

  1. Detecting malicious attacks 24/7 – in an “always on” world, security simply cannot have down time.
  2. Providing robust granular access control – limiting access to the minimum necessary for any employee also limits your risk.
  3. Protecting or recovering quickly from a data breach – the average data breach in a US company goes undetected for 206 days4; the longer the breach lasts, the higher the eventual cost.
  4. Protecting against physical intrusion – with 60% of breaches coming from within an organization, physical sabotage of hardware is a significant risk.
  5. Securely decommissioning data center infrastructure – organizations carefully destroy old paper files, and must take equal care with retired digital assets.
  6. Adhering to security standards and industry best practices – neutral third-party standards such as those from NIST5 (the National Institute of Standards and Technology), provide a superior, consistent level of protection.

The tremendous hard and soft costs of a data breach have prompted a shift among leading enterprise infrastructure partners. Dell EMC has responded to the growing data security crisis by refocusing the dialogue from cybersecurity to cyber resilience.  Next, we’ll talk about what cyber resilience means, the key components of cyber resilient architecture, and critical security questions that every enterprise must ask their server vendors before making an investment.

Author: Amanda Walker

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