Sunday, 10 December 2006

Securing the Network: 12

Securing The Network
A Post on Corporate Security Issues for the Non Technical

This post covers:
                Social Engineering
                Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Social Engineering

‘The art and science of getting people to comply to your wishes’ (Source: Bernz 2), ‘an outside hacker’s use of psychological tricks on legitimate users of a computer system, in order to obtain information he needs to gain access to the system’ (Source: Palumbo), or ‘getting needed information (for example, a password) from a person rather than breaking into a system’ (Source: Berg).

In reality, social engineering can be any and all of these things, depending upon where you sit. The one thing that everyone seems to agree upon is that social engineering is generally a hacker’s clever manipulation of the natural human tendency to trust. The hacker’s goal is to obtain information that will allow him/her to gain unauthorized access to a valued system and the information that resides on that system. (Source: Sarah Granger)

Social Engineering is probably one of the biggest threats we face in security and the one we can protect against the least. We have to rely on our employees to question and be vigilant. To do that we need to make them aware of security and the issues surrounding it. See the section on Employee Education.

Reverse Social Engineering.
This is where the attacker assumes a position of authority and gets the victim to freely offer information and ask advice. This requires a high level of skill, preparation and research.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

A Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plan is essential. If the worst happens you want to be able to refer to a document that covers the steps to take to enable you to be back up and running without delay.

The scope of DR and BS could encompass everything from a server crashing and data being lost, to the building going up in flames.

Many companies have a ‘cold’, ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ site standing by to be used in the eventuality of the main place of work being destroyed through fire, flood, terrorist activity or something similar.

A Cold Site generally refers to an empty building, a Warm Site refers to a building with maybe desks and networking and a Hot Site refers to a building that is fully fitted with everything including computer systems, ready to have the backups loaded and be up and running in a very short space of time.


Disaster Recovery Plan: Provides procedures for recovering from a disaster after it occurs and also documents how to return the normal IT functions back to the business.

Business Recovery Plan: Addresses how business functions will resume after a disaster, preferable at an alternate site.

Business Resumption Plan: This addresses how critical systems and the functions of the business will be maintained.

Contingency Plan: This addresses what actions can be performed with regard to the normal business activities after a disaster.

"Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day's work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition." - Sir William Osler

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