Application Security – IT Risk Management

Identity theft basics

Identity theft is one of the latest buzzword within our society in recent times. Identity theft refers to hiding one’s original identity and illegally misusing someone else’s identity. The person pretending to be someone else tries to make money at the cost of others and makes an abusive use of fake identity. The occurrence of this form of crime has increased partly due to the expansion in our communication network where people interact or know about only the existence of other person but have not met them person. Since one does not recognize the other person by physical appearance it is easier for identity thieves to step into others shoe and gather vital information for their own selfish motives. Identity theft can also occur from distance when someone may call or communicate with any other person just to gather some confidential information and then misuse the data provided.

Emergence of Internet apart from providing many facilities and being a blessing for people has also added a lot to this already existing crime.
With more and more business houses using Internet and computerized networks for their official workings increased amount of significant data are now found on web. Apart from the obtaining vital statistics of any corporate house or any important individual information, identity thieves do disguise to fool others and obtain some critical information like the credit card number or the social security number. Theft of credit card number and social security number can result in a great loss and trauma for the victim. As the culprit could use the credit card for withdrawing money from others account and also the crimes committed by the thief can be attributed to the victim since the thief was using a fake identity of other person.

This increasing form of crime has raised concern of many and people are now finding ways to combat such malicious actions that cause loss to innocent citizens. Apart from following the general instructions and relying on social systems to prevent such crimes certain individual effort is also required to protect one from identity thieves. One must be cautious not to provide any confidential information on Internet or any other public communication systems that can be accessed by anyone. Only after perfectly confirmed verification some information may be shared if it’s very urgent. Also one should not rely on anyone else without careful verification of the identity of the other person.

It’s a matter of great regret that such identity thieves many a times bank upon the sentiments of good citizens and fool them to make some easy money. Many such cases of false identity have been reported in recent past where people pretend to be someone in great need of help and when some virtuous person comes forward to help them they just breach others and make personal profits at the expense of others.

Recently when the world was struck by an unfortunate natural disaster of tsunami help from entire world poured in through all means. Government organizations of countries struck by this calamity had set websites to make people aware of the damages incurred and collect help from them if they could contribute to the well-being of victims. Following the genuine websites many fraudulent websites were also hosted at the same time to bank upon people’s sentiments for personal interests. Such incidents and many others make it a moral responsibility of every citizen to come forward and assist in curbing this social crime.

Dating Goes Cyber And Its Big Business

Popular and innovative, online dating sites have innovated the world of romance. High on the popularity list, online dating is big business. It is a $ 1 billion industry that is thriving because it has provided affordable options to thousands of singles. The projected growth per year is set at 9% with revenues of $516 million coming just from consumer subscriptions.

According to Hitwise a market research firm, online dating is extremely popular and here to stay. In fact online dating often accounts for 1%of internet usage. The business has moved with need. Extremely popular are niche sites that focus on religion, ethnicity, or special interests.

Many sites promote social networking and offer music, games, interactive content and more. This appeals to youngsters aged 18-24. There is no pressure to date or find a relationship although you are welcome to develop a friendship formed on the site into something deeper.

Extremely professional, online dating sites offer some degree of security, protect your privacy, offer advice on possible matches, guide you on how to navigate the site, and offer exiting things like online discussion groups, cyber messaging with virtual bouquets, and phone calls. The move now expected is to use new technologies to connect people through SMS, mobiles and 3G services.

The concept caught on like wildfire because people were to busy to find time to date, shy to approach strangers, and wary of meeting alone. With online dating a person can log on from the security of his or her own home or office. One can meet as many singles as he or she wants to in a single session. The costs are much lower than going on a date and one can get to know a person before meeting them. Since online profiles list likes and dislikes and photographs it is possible to pick and choose. A person can avoid the awkwardness of meeting face to face and finding out that the date is just not right.

What more you can date from any corner of the earth and don’t have to be in the same town to get in touch. But as always there are advantages and disadvantages to online dating.

To sustain revenues, the business is looking towards being user friendly; generating revenues from romance related advertisements such as getaways, make overs and so on, and becoming more friendship oriented rather than purely romance oriented. Sites are offering greater consumer protection and incorporating many news ways to make contact like videos, SMS, MMS, and TV based services. Many even go the extra mile and organize singles events.

There are over 2500 active online dating sites with large ever growing memberships. Although many experts feel the online dating industry is heading for a plateau others predict diversification and great imaginative business modules.

Whatever the prediction online dating sites fulfill a need that other commerce sites don’t. They promote romance and sell dreams.

Outsourcing And The Small Business

Many basic IT services are very general and not business specific. Services such as anti-virus protection, data backup and IT support can benefit from the economy of scale an outsourcing organisation offers. For a small business taking care of these areas effectively may prove difficult. While there is a cost associated with outsourcing there is a far higher cost to not maintaining and looking after IT services.

The main benefit outsourcing can offer is expert support without the associated inhouse costs. It can take care of systems security, data backup or even provide complex system support. For small business the key attraction here is that expert support. Even in organisations with their own IT support there may be some benefit through the outsourcing of selected IT services.

A further advantage of outsourcing is that a business can choose which individual services to allocate to an outside provider. Different services can be provided by different suppliers, although this may involve extra management.

A potential downside of outsourcing can be the loss of control over IT systems and possible loss of expertise to the business. This is true if there are key systems that the business depends on. This may not be what the business wants, especially if it has invested heavily in technology.

One way to overcome this possible loss of control is for an organisation to agree levels of service with their outsourcing partner.

These should include

● Guarantee of service
● Specified service hours
● Level of support provided
● Security policies for customer systems
● Data Protection policies

IT outsourcing is not a panacea and for some SMEs it may not provide any immediate solutions, but given the growing complexity of IT systems, it is something that should be considered.Just because a business is small it doesn’t mean it’s not entitled to quality support.

Network Security – Not With a Peer-toPeer Network!

Most small business networks grow and evolve as the business grows. In one way, this is good. It shows the business is growing, becoming stronger. Unfortunately, from a network perspective, it can be a disaster in the making.
Most small business networks are setup in a peer-to-peer (P2P) format. In contrast, large corporate networks are setup in a domain format. What does this mean to you?
First, let us define the two network formats. In a P2P format every PC is responsible for its own security access. Basically, each PC is equal to every other PC in the network. These networks generally consist of less than ten computers and require a large amount of administrative overhead to function securely.
In this format the attitudes of the user population is of prime importance. If they have a high level of security conscience then your network will be more secure, if they don’t your network will be wide open to insider exploitation.
You can see the problem. Ten computers and ten administrators equal little accountability.
In a domain system there is a single point of administration, your network administrator. He is responsible for maintaining the network.
A network setup in this format consists of at least one server, a domain controller, to administrator the rest of the network. This domain controller manages user and computer access, freeing the network administrator from the necessity of touching every PC in the network.
When a user logs onto her PC in a P2P network she only authenticates on it, in a domain system it is a little more complicated.
In a domain system she logs onto her computer, her login ID is first checked with the domain controller. If it is found she is granted access to the network resources assigned to her. Then she is allowed to log on to her desktop. If her ID isn’t found then she only has access to her local PC.
Now that you know a little about the two network structures you can see the advantages of the domain design.
As stated earlier this format requires planning to achieve. You must sit down and outline what you want your network to accomplish.
Consider what access your users really need to do their jobs. In the computer security world this is called granting the least amount of access required to do the job. Do your sales reps really need access to your financial files? What about external vendors?
All of this needs to be thought out and addressed.
Here’s an example of how I setup a small sales organization. This business consisted of about eight employees and the two owners. With the assistance of the owners we defined three user groups.
The owners group was granted full and complete access, while each of the other groups received lesser and different accesses. The admin group received access to the financial and administrative functions, and the sales groups receive assess to the sales and customer management data. Specifically, they were excluded from the financial and administrative and the owner’s functions.
Additionally, we setup auditing of both successful and unsuccessful attempts to view certain types of data. We did this to add a layer of accountability to the network. This increases the security of their customer’s data because we can now tell who and when the data was accessed.
Network security personnel know that most network security breaches occur from the inside! In my experience most small businesses use the P2P format because it is the easiest to implement and because they don’t know the security compromises they are working under.
This can be a ticking time bomb for your business. Eventually, you will experience a security lapse that could land you in court.
For instance, you have an employee leave your business. This employee downloaded all of your customer data before he left. Next, he sells this data to someone who uses it to steal the identity of several of your customers. Eventually, this theft is discovered and traced back to your employee.
Your former customers in fully justifiable outrage take you to court charging you with negligence. Specifically, they hold you responsible for failing to safeguard their personal information.
Your case will be much stronger if you can show you have positive control of your network. You can point out your security procedures. Employee logon auditing, security updates, acceptable use agreements, etc. In short you can show that you have taken the steps that a reasonable person would take to secure your network and customer data.
Hopefully, your lawyer can then place the blame directly where it belongs. On the employee who stole the information in the first place. Ask you attorney about this! Don’t just take my work for it, I’m not a lawyer.
Remember, network security is a result of through planning, not hap hazard improvisation. Give your network the same attention you give to the rest of your business.
If you do not have the skills or the time to be your own network administrator, you can contract with someone to handle this for you on a part-time basis. Just make sure they are reputable, you are putting your business in their hands.

Security – Online Security Guards

If you go back just far enough in our collective history you come to a pleasant place where doors were left unlocked. Neighbors and even strangers were trusted while neighborhoods were considered safe and welcoming.

It wasn’t long before a few bad guys made locks standard. In fact, multiple locks were used and locking mechanisms were even placed on windows.

Now, fast forward to recent innovations where motion sensors and alarm trips not only alert a family to the presence of an intruder, but also triggers a response from appropriate law enforcement personnel.

The security issues that have made new methods of home security mainstream have also brought about dynamic improvements in security measures in an online environment.

There may have been a time when virus software was not needed, but those days likely are a throwback to monochromatic screens and extremely small hard drives.

Would anyone truly consider using personal information in an environment where password protection was not in use?

Would anyone truly feel that all websites are absolutely trustworthy?

Would anyone knowingly welcome intruders onto their site where they can disable, alter and damage content while mining personal and security data for nefarious uses?

Would anyone be interested in making a purchase online if they believed the process to be a detriment to their own personal information security?

It may seem the role of Internet security has gotten out of control. However, the safeguards that are commonplace in ecommerce allow business owners to maximize their marketing capabilities while electronic security guards work to keep the bad guys away.

It is routine for new viruses to be unleashed through cyberspace, and the anti-virus software you may complain about having to purchase is essentially your business security guards. The good news is they cost a lot less than their human counterpart and are always on the job. The key to the success of anti-virus software rests in your vigilance in making sure you check for updates and scan your system. Many of these software applications allow for automatic reminders as well as automatic updates. This makes the entire process less taxing on the business owner.

So much of our lives are enveloped in the computer, it just makes sense for online business to make sure they have a crack cyber staff on board to keep things safe.

For the individual, the same rules apply. You can invite security issues through email, site visits and various software downloads. A home security system for your computer is essential to the long-term health of the World Wide Web.

Insurance and Medical Tourism

A lot of people are wondering if their current insurance policy can cover medical tourism packages. You should know that some individuals have fallen prey to dishonest individuals who promise quality treatment and accommodations but are truly only interested in getting their cash quickly. Others experienced worse by being treated by doctors who are not truly experienced or qualified to perform different procedures and surgeries. Here are tips.

For Medical Tourism Operators

If facilitators are sued by the patient for negligent acts or unintentional misrepresentation of data, a policy regarding professional liability policy will then include the amount lawfully needed to be reimbursed by the facilitator, plus the costs for defense. The policy can be fixed to cover intellectual property, claims against the patient who has the insurance from actions of agents, consultants and sub-contractors, loss of documents, breach of confidential data, libel and slander and joint venture liability.

Personal accident insurance for operators of medical tourism is also available. This is the personal accident coverage that provides a pre-agreed amount, should the medical tourist become disabled permanently or dies during the medical tour or vacation. The compensation will be given immediately and can save beneficiaries from having to go through long and expensive litigation procedures.

The policy can be fixed to cover evacuation and repatriation, dismemberment or accidental death resulting from a medical process, permanent incapacitation because of medical procedure and hospitalization and medical expenses coming from the accident.

Availability of Insurance

Because of the widespread growth of medical tourism, insurance policies are now being made specifically for the tourists. Complications after the treatment can be paid for abroad or as soon as the patient returns home. The financial investment can also be protected. Coverage can range anywhere between $10,000 up to $100,000, while abroad and once the person returns home. Should you cancel your trip, you can get coverage up to $50,000. The traveling companion also gets benefits, such as travel accommodations. You will be covered including the amount that is non-refundable due to the medical hospital.

Medical evacuation coverage can reach up to $100,000. Acute diseases and injuries you acquire during the trip can be covered by insurance as well amounting up to $50,000.

Getting Serious

Majority of the tourists going abroad for treatment are not actually covered by the new available insurance policies. They will have to talk to agencies like Medicaid to look for relief and other answers if they go through bad experiences. Medical tourists do not usually go to other countries to get very serious operations, but only opt for more doable ones with fewer complications like plastic or cosmetic surgery.

If patients leave their home country to get very major operations abroad, they might secure an insurance policy, plus ask for accreditation from the medical institution they are visiting. They should also make sure that the attending physician and surgeon are fully competent and qualified for the procedure. The coverage of insurance will depend on the premium or package acquired and the condition of the patient.

How To Inform Patients About Identity Theft

Informing patients about identity theft risk is not a strict legal requirement but not informing them could lead to serious consequences, not only for the individual involved but also for the hospital or clinical practitioner who decided not to inform the patients of identity theft risk. In this article we will look at a number of ideas to help you establish how, when and whether you should inform your patients about the possible risk of identity theft.

The first principle which you should always try to stick to is one of data security. Hopefully with proper security systems in place the need to inform patients about breaches in this security will be minimal. Data security involves systems such as secure passwords on all your computers, data encryption, anti-spyware software and any other security measures which your IT specialists may suggest. If these security measures are strictly adhered to and staff are trained in these and the importance of data privacy then informing patients about identity theft risk should only happen on the very rare occasion.

Some people feel that by informing patients too often of the risk of identity theft that they will become de-sensitized to the risk, however, if you have correct security systems in place you will hopefully not need to do it too often, and it is important that if there is a real risk of identity theft that the patients are informed of this risk in order to take precautionary measures.

If the risk is high in a certain case of breach of security then it important that patients are informed of the risk of identity theft in a timely manner and they should also be informed of what the hospital is doing in order to catch the suspect and prevent further harm from being done.

It would also be a good idea in these circumstances to provide guidance for patients concerned as to what measures they should be taking in order to protect themselves – such as contacting the credit bureaus, creditors and other parties.

Informing patients about identity theft risk is not a strict legal requirement; however, if hospitals are found negligent in this then the consequences could be severe and amount to millions of dollars in fines. The consequences for the patients involved could also be severe, not only in terms of financial risk but also in terms of personal health information that could land in the wrong hands. All data security measures should be in place long before this need ever arises but if there is a serious risk of identity theft occurring then patients should be informed in a timely manner and given guidance as to how they ought to proceed with protecting themselves and what the hospital is doing in this regard.

Take the time to protect your identity so that you too won???t have to suffer through the loss. If you pay bills on line make sure you only use secure sites to do so. With so many great firewalls and computer programs such as Norton???s anti-virus it is tough to break down such security systems in place.

Security in Todays World

There are many things in life that are worth protecting. Our children, our valuables, our resources and of course, ourselves. Only twenty years ago, if security was mentioned, you were speaking of protecting your home. And you were most likely discussing a security system, monitoring, watchdogs, firearms and cameras.
With the explosion of the personal computer, and the internet’s ease of access to information, security has now taken on additional roles. With over 605 million people online at any given moment worldwide, criminals are no longer bound by geographic location. Today’s cyber criminal can hack from the comfort of his home just by getting online.
There are software programs that do nothing but scan the internet for un-secure ports and open networks so that they can enter into those unprotected machines to access critical information. There are many users who know little about internet security and rely on their ISP to provide it for them.
To look deeper into this topic, let’s examine the qualities that make security both similar and different. With your home, you have a physical area that you can protect with fire and motion sensors, cameras, glass-break detectors and decals strategically placed to deter would-be thieves. For your computer, you protect a virtual space usually containing sensitive information relevant to your personal finances or key identity theft items such as family names and social security numbers. To protect these resources, one must install software (anti-virus, port scanners, Trojan hunting software, firewalls) as one level of protection. You can also add another layer of security through a hardware firewall of connectivity to and from the internet or network.
Both home security and computer security have maintenance costs associated with them. Reliable home security will usually consist of a one-time fee to install the hardware in your home, and then an agreement to have 24-hour monitoring service for a given length of time. Computer security will consist of buying the software and then either a monthly or yearly subscription fee to receive the latest information and protection from internet threats.
One difference between the two are the methods of monitoring. While computer security is only responsive while the computer is active or online, home security monitoring is responsive at all times provided the system is properly armed.
Another distinction is the method of response. In home security, a human will respond by dispatching police, fire or EMS directly to your home or business site. On a computer, the response is when the software vendor becomes aware of the problem, creates a solution, and has an update available for download.
With the advances of technology, monthly fees for home security monitoring are reasonable for the service they provide. Be warned: not all monitoring companies have the same capabilities when it comes to quick response. That’s one reason why it’s a good idea to make sure that any security company you choose has a UL certification. This can be critical as it indicates that the security company has met stringent standards for management system compliance (such as a back up source of power).
The same methodology should apply for a security software provider. Just because they say they’re the best, doesn’t mean that they are. Due diligence is the user’s responsibility. Your information is too valuable to be taken lightly.
Both home security and cyber security are similar to having insurance. You have it, but you hope you never need it. And if you do need it, you want a company or vendor that has a history of excellent customer service.
There are those people who think that having a firearm is all they need for protection. While that may hold true in some form, a firearm won’t let you know if someone is trying to enter your home through the back door while you are sleeping and notify you or the authorities. Another common perception is that a watchdog will alert a homeowner to intrusion, but again, man’s best friend sleeps 10 to 12 hours a day and can’t notify the police.
There are some computer users who claim that they can detect a virus by the email that is sent with some obvious taglines meant for the user to open and infect the machine.
Not all viruses are in emails, although that is the most common form. They can also be uploaded to a website, or embedded in Java Applets or Active X controls.
Trojans, which can log all of the users keystrokes and sites visited, are secretly downloaded in the form of free games or free software, and are undetectable by anti-virus software. This is the preferred method of attack by a hacker on a machine. By not altering the performance of a machine (like a virus or worm does), the user blissfully continues to use their machine to make online purchases, and enter sensitive information, thinking they are secure, while the Trojan secretly records all of the information and will simply send all of the user’s information at designated intervals to the hacker.
Many times a decision about security measures for your home or computer is based on budgetary constraints. But always consider what it is that you are protecting and how much you would pay to get back whatever was stolen, lost or destroyed if an unfortunate event occurred in your life.

9 Things You Must Do To Maximize Your Chances Of Obtaining A Small Business Loan

To get approval for your small business loan application, you must be able to meet the lending criteria set down. Some organisations are more risk averse than others, and will therefore have more stringent criteria. To vastly increase your chances of a successful funding application, you will need to present the following information:
1. The reason for the loan. The lender will be looking for something that fits within the normal range and expertise of your business. The amount may cover a number of items, so you will need to cover each.
2. The amount required, and the repayment term of the small business loan you want. (e.g. $10,000 term 5 years, payable quarterly).
3. Details of how you will repay the amount borrowed. For example, “From the increase in profits of reduced running costs of the Whizzbang Go4It”
4. Details of security you will be able to offer to the lender. This will act as reassurance for the lender. If you’re not prepared to put up some aspect of security, then why should they?
5. You will need to include your business plan which will serve to answer essential questions relating to management capabilities, information about the market you operate in. What kind of business you are in etc.
6. 3 Years financial statements. You will need to present quality financial information from your accounting software, preferably signed off by your accountant or tax advisor.
7. Latest Set of Management accounts. Again produced from your accounting software.
8. Accounts receivables (debtors) and payables (creditors) ageing reports.
9. Principals financial statements. – Particularly required if some form of security is necessary.
If you are a new company, the emphasis is going to be on your business plan , and the security (also called collateral) you or your business can provide against the loan.
You must take the time to practice presenting your case to the bank or lender to iron out any glitches. Practice on your colleagues and family (you never know, they might be so impressed, they’ll invest or lend!). It may help to role play the lender and come up with as many pointy questions as possible. The more time you take the better your chances will be. (But remember, don’t fall into the analysis paralysis trap!)
Good luck!

Application Security – IT Risk Management

Application Security risk assessment and risk management are vital tasks for IT managers. Corporations face increased levels of Application Security risk from hackers and cyber crooks seeking intellectual property and customer information. A comprehensive application security risk assessment is a modern day corporate necessity.

Application security risk management provides the optimal protection within the constraints of budget, law, ethics, and safety. Performing an overall Application Security risk assessment enables organizations to make wise decisions.

Web Servers – Application Security
Web Servers are One of the most critical sources of Application Security risk to organizations. Performing an application security assessment and implementing security risk management is critical. Here are core points that pose a major security risk to Application Security:

Default configuration – Application Security
Web server default configurations that may not be secure leave unnecessary samples, templates, administrative tools, etc. open to attacks. Poor application security risk management leaves security breaches for hackers to take complete control over the Web server.

Databases – Application Security
Web sites and applications must be interactive to be useful and there lies the risk… Web applications without sufficient application security allow hackers to attack their databases. Invalid input scripts leads to many of the worst database attacks. Comprehensive risk assessment may reveal steps to ensure application security.

Encryption – Application Security
Encryption reduces application security risks and losses when Web servers are breached. Even though a company’s Intranet server has greater vulnerability to attacks, encryption creates a lower relative risk.

Web Servers – Application Security
Web Servers are the most critical sources of Application Security risk for most companies. Performing application security assessment regularly and implementing security risk management reduces security risk for overall application security.

Databases – Application Security
Web sites and applications must be interactive to be useful and there lies the risk… Web applications that do not perform sufficient application security validation allow hackers to attack its databases. Invalid input leads to many of the most popular attacks. Comprehensive risk assessment may reveal steps to ensure application security.

Default configuration – Application Security
Web servers default configurations often leave unsecured important information, templates and administrative tools open to attacks. Inappropriate application security risk enables hackers to gain control over the Web server and your company’s Application Security. The bright side is there are powerful application security solutions to combat them.

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