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Web 2.0 has brought new life to the online world

Web 2.0 has made the Web a livelier and friendlier place, with social Web sites, wikis, blogs, mashups and interactive services that are fun as well as useful. There are two Web 2.0 concepts that change the game for CISOs that they need to understand. The first is the introduction of rich client interfaces (AJAX, Adobe/Flex) while the other is a shift to community-controlled content as opposed to publisher consumer model. Both have serious security issues.

It's all good news about Web 2.0, right?

Yes, unless you happen to be responsible for securing the Web 2.0 environment for your business or enterprise. Then, you might just lament that we've taken the data-rich server model of the 1970s and grafted it onto the interface-rich client model of the 1980s and '90s, giving us more capabilities but also a more complex and vulnerable computing environment.

We have to deal with the problems traditionally encountered using interface-rich clients -- viruses, Trojans, man-in-the-middle attacks, eavesdropping, replay attacks, rogue servers and others. And all of these apply to every interface in a Web 2.0 mashup, which could have dozens of clients in one application.

In addition, the user community has changed from being simply indifferent to being willfully ignorant of the value of information. Users willingly post the most revealing details about their employers and their professional lives (not to mention their personal lives) on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter -- information that is easily available to just about anyone.

The problem is painfully obvious for the security professional: more complexity and openness creates vulnerabilities and opportunities for attack and the release of confidential information. This all results in more headaches for security professionals who have to be vigilant in order to keep their IT environments secure.

What's a CISO to do?

Although some companies have tried all options, you can't easily write your own browser, isolate your users from the Web, or control everything that happens on their PC desktop. However, there are steps you can take that can seriously improve your odds of winning the battle over Web 2.0 vulnerabilities.


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