This week Andrew Armstrong, UK managing director at Trend Micro, warns that today's businesses are increasingly dependent on computing environments that are both highly distributed and globally connected via the internet.
The potential benefits of global interconnection are substantial, and include streamlining operations and reducing costs.
In addition, enterprises can rapidly expand business capabilities through the deployment of emerging mobile devices, web services and online applications.
But this movement towards the more connected enterprise brings with it a host of new security challenges.
The complex, heterogeneous and distributed nature of the corporate network makes it difficult to implement consistent security standards throughout the enterprise.
Each new network service, device or application that opens up remote access to the internal network creates a potential access point for computer viruses and other malicious code. Each new operating system or protocol may contain security vulnerabilities that are not yet identified.
With an average of 500 new and increasingly sophisticated viruses each month, companies using traditional antivirus and content security products and practices remain vulnerable to attack.
Although effective at thwarting known threats, many existing security products are largely incapable of proactively identifying and fending off new ones.
For Nimda-like attacks that use multiple network entry points and payload mechanisms, there is currently no method of systematically managing antivirus policies, products and damage assessment from the gateway to the server to the desktop.
Most businesses, regardless of size, have adopted a staged process for responding to new security threats. Although some aspects of these procedures have been automated, they remain predominantly manual processes.
These include notifying personnel of a new security threat via telephone, fax or email, individually configuring gateway-level antivirus software settings to deter a specific threat, and consulting with management and security specialists to determine the most effective course of action.
These are all time-consuming manual processes that delay taking effective action and increase an enterprise's chances of sustaining damage from an imminent attack.
After recent high-profile virus attacks, customers are seeking reassurance and demanding a higher level of service. To date, antivirus vendors have offered static point solutions to their customers, even if centralised management is part of this offer.
With this in mind, it is no longer enough just to offer centralised management of updates and reports, as the need for centralised management with embedded intelligence is becoming more important in order to anticipate and help prevent against future attacks.
The products on the market at present allow IT administrators to make changes to their set-up on a purely reactive basis.
Recent research from Computer Economics has shown that 80 per cent of the cost of a virus is generated during the clean-up phase, prompting calls from corporate customers for their antivirus solution to be more proactive.
I'm sure we've all seen boasts from antivirus vendors in the midst of the latest threat to corporate networks that they are the first to provide the fix, but we don't think that this is enough.
It's much more important to have tangible solutions that allow the customer to automate the clean-up process, freeing the IT administrator to deal with the immediate threat.
As the enterprise computing environment becomes more diverse, securing it against viruses requires a co-ordinated, multi-layered effort.
When choosing an antivirus provider, businesses should look for a vendor that is able to deliver a flexible architecture comprised of point products, dynamic services and centralised management.
In addition, the chosen supplier should be truly global, with the requisite accreditations for its virus testing facilities and competitive service level agreements.
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