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As we outlined in Part I of this article, ensuring that the IT business infrastructure is protected requires a defense in depth or layered strategy. 98 percent of organizations today have anti-virus and firewalls, however, they’re not enough against today’s sophisticated threats. Through the integration between additional technologies like vulnerability management, endpoint policy compliance, and intrusion prevention/detection, organizations achieve comprehensive protection from attack. In addition, data is correlated to better protect the network and simplify security management. The result is a highly protective, highly automated security environment.

Integration in action: The anatomy of an attack

Tracking the lifecycle of a well-known attack in a network protected by integrated, layered security demonstrates the efficacy of this approach. In the example that follows, we’ll examine how integrated security defends against a recent peer-to-peer (P2P) attack. The network in this example includes the following integrated technologies: firewall, AV, intrusion prevention system (IPS), an endpoint policy compliance solution, a vulnerability management system, and a patch manager.

1. Compromise

In this scenario, a corporation’s Chief Operations Officer (COO) takes her company-owned laptop home on Friday evening. Over the weekend a family member uses the machine to share music files with others on the Internet using the latest music sharing program.

2. Policy compliance check, device quarantine

Upon returning to work Monday morning, the COO connects to the corporate network, at which point the company’s endpoint compliance solution tests the device for compliance against the organization’s established security access policies. The access policy dictates that:

  • Devices must have the latest IT-approved operating system patches
  • The corporate standard anti-virus protection is running and up-to-date
  • Corporate patch management client software is operational on the device.

Although the endpoint security system could check for other policy requirements, such as restricted programs or other security configurations, these were not part of the applied access policy tests. The COO’s laptop meets all the defined requirements and is allowed access into the network.

3. In-depth vulnerability scanning selected devices

Within the integrated security environment, the endpoint compliance solution is able to inform the vulnerability management system (VMS) that this laptop, which is a corporate asset, has returned to the network after being disconnected for a few days. The VMS launches a full vulnerability scan of the device to ensure no new vulnerabilities are present.


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