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Next generation firewalls

Ross O. Storey | July 21, 2010
MIS Asia editor, Ross O. Storey, shared thoughts with Palo Alto Networks co-founder and chief architect, Yuming Mao, on the benefits and dangers of todays new openness and interactivity.

SINGAPORE, 21 JULY 2010 - Many organisations struggle with balancing the business value and risks of Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 applications. On one hand, they offer tremendous business value on the other, they carry significant risks data loss/leaks, productivity, compliance, business continuity, and operations cost risks.

MIS Asia editor, Ross O. Storey, shared thoughts with Palo Alto Networks co-founder and chief architect, Yuming Mao, on the benefits and dangers of todays new openness and interactivity.

What do you see as the major Achilles heel of enterprises in the Asia Pacific relating to enterprise IT and network security?

Modern applications and threats easily circumvent the traditional network firewall so much so that enterprises have deployed an entire crop of firewall helpers to help remedy the situation. But that hasnt really worked. Neither have attempts to bolt application awareness and control onto existing firewall products, or to consolidate firewall helpers with a unified threat management (UTM) device. Applications and threats are still making their way around these so-called solutions, frustrating IT groups that have only managed to incur additional cost and complexity without fixing the problem.

The second issue is that even if traditional security infrastructure could see and control modern applications, it has the wrong model.  Traditional network security has two concepts good traffic (allow) and threats (block) applications are not threats they provide benefit, but they do carry risks.  For many organisations, this necessitates a model which focuses on the safe enablement of applications (e.g. allow for certain users, allow certain functions, or allow, but scan for threats).

What are the latest trends relating to attacks on application-layer vulnerabilities and at what rate are these attacks being generated?

Social networks have become the transmission vector for old and new threats hundreds of millions of users are a huge target and threat developers are reacting accordingly. Our top 10 social networking risks/threats include:

- Social networking worms

- Phishing bait

- Trojan vector

- Data leaks

- Shortened or obfuscated links

- Botnet command and control

- Its a data source for attackers

- Cross-site request forgery (CSRF)

- Impersonation

- Too much trust from end-users

What examples can you cite, of Asia Pacific enterprises that have suffered due to the latest threat environment?

One of the interesting elements of Web 2.0 applications and the threats they carry is that there are no boundaries. The world is flat.  Many Asia-based applications are used in other parts of the world and vice-versa (Asian P2P file sharing, European media, and North American social networking applications are prevalent worldwide). Not surprisingly, the threats they carry are just as prevalent.  While we cant give you specific, non-public examples, there are defence contractors, government agencies, healthcare organisations, and pharmaceutical manufacturers that have fallen prey to threats borne by these classes of applications.

 

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