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Internet Security Incidents Up

Internet security incident statistics are showing the continuation of a disturbing trend. Since the early 1980's the computer systems attached to the Internet have been under attack. Lately that trend has included the Internet itself as Denial-of-Service attacks cause backbone router problems, and hacks on root name servers have left entire domains without needed services.

CERT projects that security incidents were up 50% in 2002. In 2001 there were over 52,000 incidents, with an expected 82,000 in 2002.

Just this week other statistics are out. One major security player has stated that it saw security incidents rise more than 36 percent between the last quarter of 2002 and the first of 2003. Another major player claims that incidents are up about 10 percentage points week on week. That's quite an increase.

What To Do About Security Incidents

Review the top enterprise security threats for 2003. Make sure that all issues are properly addressed.

  • Cover the security basics.
  • Install a firewall.
  • Install an intrusion detection system.
  • Configure it properly.
  • Keep it up-to-date on a daily basis.

UC Davis lists the Top Ten Security Exposures as:

  • Default operating system and application installations

    Solution: The installation and routines for many operating systems and applications often include additional programs and scripts in the interest of user convenience and ease of use. Unless removed or disabled, many of these same routines provide a security vulnerability that can be exploited.

  • User accounts have no passwords or weak passwords

    Solution: Remove default passwords and routinely change passwords to those that cannot easily be guessed.

  • Incomplete backups and/or local storage of backups

    Solution: Verify that critical and essential data is backed up on a daily basis and stored in a safe location, away from the source of the data. Periodically check to ensure you can restore from backup media.

  • Unneeded services or programs running

    Solution: When away from your computer or working in another program, be sure to close unnecessary services or programs. Some of the non-critical services and programs could be vulnerable to security exploits.

  • Non-existent or incomplete logging

    Solution: Security and event logs permit a review of computer activity should the computer become compromised. This information could be used to identify a security exploit and/or determine the scope of damage. Verify that your computer system logs have been enabled and are functioning. In addition, it is a good idea to periodically copy your logs to removable media or a remote system using write-once media to protect logs from being overwritten.

  • Infrequent log inspection

    Solution: Once security and event logs have been enabled, you need to regularly inspect the log files for suspicious activity. While suspicious activity may not always be easily identified, you can review previous log entries for entries that occur at odd dates/times, or are made by unknown users of computer addresses.

  • Operating system patches, particularly security fixes, have not been installed on your computer

    Solution: Routinely review and install critical operating system patches to your MS Windows, Unix and Apple operating systems. Operating system vendors and a number of independent security organizations provide descriptions of recent security vulnerabilities and available operating system updates. Visiting the web sites of such organizations may alert you to the need to install an important security patch.

  • User accounts of terminated employees are available after termination date

    Solution: Remember to remove the access privileges for departing employees as soon as possible. Also, remember that internally transferred employees and temporary employees may need to have their access privileges changed periodically to match their work assignments.

  • Unfamiliarity with recent security vulnerabilities and exploits

    Solution: Regularly review security-related web sites, and hire an outside security consultancy to examine your security and implement remediations.

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