Issue 60 - 7th September, 2011
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Secure Online Access
Rajesh Garg

Internet has paved the way for globalisation and is responsible for business growth and efficiency in today’s connected world. However, the Internet also brings with it a plethora of security threats, especially for multi-location businesses that exchange sensitive information all the time. A recent survey by Symantec revealed that 54 per cent of Indian enterprises felt that external attacks were growing, 42 per cent were worried about internal malicious attacks and 52 per cent about the rise in instances of internal unintentional data loss. Connect caught up with Mr. Rajesh Garg, Vice President & Head- Information System Support, Nucleus Software, to understand the threat posed by the Internet, and how to manage it.

CIOs, are often responsible for managing risk across the enterprise IT environment while taking steps to be sure that the business is being served appropriately, how does one manage restricted Internet access in such a Internet driven economy?

Today, the Internet is the lifeblood for not just an IT organisation but for all businesses by and large. In fact we are so dependent on the Internet that it is hard to live without it. It is a wonderful source of information. But contrary to this, it is also one of the biggest threats to an organisation, as most of the intrusions, attacks happen via Internet. It is the CIO’s responsibility in such a situation to address all business needs without opening the business’ doors to the various online threats.

Most organisations isolate business/production network from the Internet in order to provide immunity to business and avoid any theft/intrusion via the Internet. Deployment of antispam and antivirus solution at proxy level further provides an additional layer of security.

But these solutions often result in productivity losses, while providing only surface level security. From the administration point of view also, such arrangements are big overheads.

To address such a complex requirement, one should look for category based Web Filter solutions. The advantage of such a solution is that you just have to select the categories to be allowed. Administrators can make different polices based on the business requirements and just add the respective web filters that suits their business. Such solutions have the capability of updating their URL database and have dynamic URL categorization. This helps in ensuring that all available URL’s on Internet are properly categorized.

What are some of the security challenges that Nucleus Software faced, being a multi-location business? Do these differ from location to location, for example does the India office have different IT challenges from the ones in the European office?

Nucleus is a product company; it’s the CIO’s prime responsibility to protect company’s IPR.
•    Because of business reasons, pre-sales and developers have to carry IPR related confidential information in their laptops. There was no mechanism to check or control the information flow within or outside organisation.
•    Internet access mechanism was not intelligent enough. There was always a risk of information leakage via Internet.
Challenges in Indian offices were more in comparison to overseas offices as they are development centres; most of the people have direct access to sensitive information. Overseas offices are mostly sales offices; they do not have access to product binaries. So yes from that perspective, the India offices needed many more levels of security.

How do you manage to keep Internet security threats at bay, especially in an information-sensitive business such as yours. Is restricted Internet access the only solution, or is there a middle path?

Internet access is not restricted in Nucleus; it is more refined and intelligent now after implementing Websense. The new solution has helped in keeping the information security related risks at bay. The dynamic URL categorisation feature of Websense automatically isolates the sites which are infected with malicious codes or if their authenticity is not established.
Beside this we have anti spam running on our gateways to filter out infectious mails. Antivirus works in combination with proxy to ensure that viruses, malwares etc. are blocked right at the network perimeter.
We have stateful firewall with built-in IPS/IDS functionality to ensure that destructive attempts are identified at a very early stage and proactive steps are taken before actually such attempts become devastating.

How has Websense impacted your offices across the globe?

Most of our remote offices are already benefiting from the Websense implementation. A remote filtering agent and DSS end point is installed on their laptop, which basically ensures that they remain under websense surveillance and are forced to follow the corporate policy whenever they are on Internet. Offices that have direct connectivity with us, uses our Websense proxy for surfing Internet.
After deploying Websense Data Security Suite and Websense Security Gateway, Nucleus Software has been able to monitor and prevent leakage of sensitive data significantly. The implementation of this solution has further created awareness about IPRs within the organisation. In all, the sensitive data leakage incidents monitored came down by almost 95% within two months of solution implementation. All the employees were given Internet access, which boosted productivity and helped in employee retention while ensuring security threat free environment. The solution resulted in immediate direct savings of over INR 10 lacs, and bandwidth usage of 52%. The ROI on the solution was achieved within two months of its deployment.

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