How to live with malware infections

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"You need to determine issues such as placement of data with an understanding of the application and the risks of compromise of the data, rather than just bolting security solutions onto an existing system," Neuman says. "Good architecture will define multiple protection domains, with successive layers of protection deployed, and fewer users legitimately able to access data as it becomes more and more sensitive."

Along these lines, processor manufacturer Intel has embarked on an ambitious multiyear effort to redesign its information security architecture, which the company hopes will allow it to better keep up with the rapid evolution of malware.

"We believe that compromise is inevitable, and in order to manage the risk, we need to improve survivability and increase our flexibility," says Malcolm Harkins, vice president of the IT group and chief information security officer at Intel.

The redesign is based on four pillars:

  • A "dynamic trust calculation" that adjusts users privileges as their level of risk changes
  • A segmentation of the IT environment into multiple "trust zones"
  • A rebalancing of prevention, detection, and response controls
  • A clear recognition that users and data must be treated as security perimeters and be protected as such

Living with infection is a fact of life Malware is pervasive and is getting increasingly sophisticated. For many organizations, living with viruses, worms, and other types of malware is becoming a fact of life. In a sense, computer technology is catching up to the reality that biological systems have long had to manage.

As Intel's Harkins says, "I always assume that there is some level of compromise, [and] organizations who think they are malware-free -- or ever will be -- are not adequately understanding the true nature of information risk."

That doesn't mean your systems and applications can't continue to function well and support the business. By taking the right steps, your organization can operate a generally healthy IT environment despite malware intrusions.

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This story, "How to live with malware infections" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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