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Security Businesses

Workers Cause More Problems Than Viruses 191

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the going-postal dept.
Technical Writing Geek writes "A new report finds that, for the first time, virus infections have slipped to the second spot on the list of computer security troublemakers. In first place— a company's own workers. 'The Computer Security Institute has just released the 2007 edition (PDF) of its long-running "Computer Crime and Security Survey," and it offers some dreary news for overworked computer security admins: average losses from attacks have surged this year. More surprising is the finding that the single biggest security threat faced by corporate networks doesn't come from virus writers any more; instead, it comes from company insiders.'"
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Workers Cause More Problems Than Viruses

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  • by foobsr (693224) * on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:31PM (#20639201) Homepage Journal
    As of 2004 [news.com]:

    "CEOs are increasingly aware of the risks posed to company information by insiders, but they aren't acting on this knowledge, according to the "2004 Ernst & Young Global Information Security Survey." More than 70 percent of the 1,233 organizations surveyed in 51 countries failed to list training and raising employee awareness of information security issues as a top initiative."

    A case of 'ignorance is not bliss'.

    CC.
    • by king-manic (409855) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:41PM (#20639399)

      "CEOs are increasingly aware of the risks posed to company information by insiders, but they aren't acting on this knowledge, according to the "2004 Ernst & Young Global Information Security Survey." More than 70 percent of the 1,233 organizations surveyed in 51 countries failed to list training and raising employee awareness of information security issues as a top initiative."

      A case of 'ignorance is not bliss'.
      You do have to weigh company morale vs security. Requesting the whole organization use tinfoil hat Linux boxes; with 256bit end to end encryption; with all outgoing and incoming packets sniffed, duplicated and logged; 16 character mixed special char, numeric, and alphabetic passwords; Faraday cages around every office; may be excessive even for the NSA. You have to trust your employees at least a little or else it becomes a Us vs them situation.
      • by EvanED (569694) <evaned&gmail,com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:48PM (#20639537)
        Requesting the whole organization use tinfoil hat Linux boxes; with 256bit end to end encryption; with all outgoing and incoming packets sniffed, duplicated and logged; 16 character mixed special char, numeric, and alphabetic passwords; Faraday cages around every office; may be excessive even for the NSA

        Actually I bet the NSA is doing everything you name, except for the 256bit thing. I'm sure they're using at least 4096 bit encryption (assuming RS). Maybe biometrics instead of the fancy passwords.

        But you can be sure that the rooms are faraday cages; even the CIA does that. ;-)

        (The CIA also has double walls between which they pump white noise so that people can't read the vibrations of the glass with laser meters. The building is magnetically shielded so people can't "read" the monitors of people remotely.)
        • (The CIA also has double walls between which they pump white noise so that people can't read the vibrations of the glass with laser meters. The building is magnetically shielded so people can't "read" the monitors of people remotely.)
          Michael Westen doesn't need all that fancy technology, he can just use a vibrator.
        • by dbIII (701233)
          However the CIA also believe in wonder woman's golden lariet of truth (the lie detector was made by the same comic book artist) and are stuffed full of political appointees. Who knows what weird voodoo they are trying and if it works at all.
      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:01PM (#20639775)
        The ultimate attainable security ... is when your systems lose/corrupt/release data more often due to the stupid (non-malicious) actions of your people than due to crackers.

        The human level is the last limit. Don't focus on technology that will get you that last 0.0001% when the people running your systems will causing the problems 100x more often.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by sufijazz (889247)
          From TFA

          Hiding porn on an office PC, using unlicensed software, and abusing e-mail all count as security incidents, though all pale in comparison to one successful phishing trip."

          They are not even talking about "stupid" actions or even losing/corrupting/releasing data. If this is what you are measuring as a security incident, no wonder the number of security incidents being caused by insiders is going to be higher. If I am a hacker, why would I use a PC in a hacked corporate network to store my porn?

          • by cdf123 (623917) on Monday September 17, 2007 @06:11PM (#20643915) Homepage

            If I am a hacker, why would I use a PC in a hacked corporate network to store my porn?

            If I was a hacker, the last place I would store anything incriminating, is my own PC.

            One of the big reasons to store off site is to use the hacked PC for free/illegal hosting. This makes it harder to trace back to the hacker, and doesn't waist resources of the hacker's PC (storage/bandwidth). Think of how long it would take to find something on a PC if it was just used as a web server, serving files stored in some rootkit hidden directory. Virus scanners wouldn't find it, as the files aren't viral. Unless a firewall log audit, or internal port scan picked up the web server application, it could go unnoticed for months, or maybe years. Now do this to about 20 hacked systems, and you have a semi-reliable distributed network for all your hosting needs.

            Sounds like a reasonable thing for a hacker to do to me.

      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:05PM (#20639819) Journal
        Meh. All that is pointless, because it doesn't address social engineering or intentional internal sabotage.

        What you need are good audit and logging procedures, to help you pinpoint the vector of intrusion, and to minimize the damage caused. That's a basic principle for financial systems, and it's one that could benefit from being extended to general users.

        The goal is not even to do big brother crap (though this could be misused that way) but simply to have an accurate record of what's going on in your systems. Once you have that, all other problems can be addressed more effectively, and solutions can be generated that can provide security without overly hindering users. If you don't have an accurate idea of how your systems are being breached, you're forced to employ blanket policies that hinder productivity and breed dissatisfaction.
        • The problem is, if you own a box, you own the auditing system that runs on the box, too.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
            Yea. There are ways of doing black-box auditing and logging...Not the least to have a terminal-output hardcopy.

            It's not really an often-pursued option these days, however.
          • by lymond01 (314120)
            Sort of...if you have audits for a particular box that are logged elsewhere, then just because that box is owned, doesn't mean the person has access to the audit logs stored in another machine.
        • Yes, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

          That may be "the answer", but it is an expensive and resource-intensive answer. The more auditing and tracking you do, the more hardware, software, and performance overhead you add to your network. And the more man-hours you have to throw at it. I am quite sure that some firms would rather risk a few losses rather than deal with the extra cost and complexity.
          • That's a good point. Like any other security system, you have to weigh cost vs benefit...There is no need to add massive redundancy and overhead on every single server, and doing so would have other effects beyond just overhead...When you put maximum security on everything, what you're really doing is making the kiosk computer in the mail room the security equivalent of the accounting mainframe...Not good. That's the kind of thing the government is always trying to do.

            Still, intelligent accurate logging on
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by fishbowl (7759)
        > You do have to weigh company morale vs security.

        Most organizations have several classes of employee, one including those who could easily walk away and be employed at double or more times their salary the same afternoon. There's another class of employee that most organizations have, consisting of those who will put up with a great deal of abuse, disrepect, and follow any unreasonable or quasi-reasonable rule or workplace condition, because the balance of their value of job security falls in favor of
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Actually we at the NSA do not encrypt our traffic at all. All of our traffic is in EBCDIC on a 10BASE-FP network. When we want to send a packet to the Internet, someone prints it out on our state-of-the-art dot matrix printer, then types the data into a single terminal logged into Prodigy. Results are gathered with Echelon, and virus scanned four times before being printed out and re-typed into the VAX.
      • by DrSkwid (118965)
        When you employ the sort of sales team with a "winner takes all" attitude and "anything to get on" type thinking you sometimes have to protect them from themselves.

        That's why you would employ an IT security specialist.

        Putting a lock on a vending machine seems resonable but none if your employees are thieves right ?

    • by gravos (912628) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:45PM (#20639471) Homepage
      Implementing good security practices tends to waste time.

      If Cindy from HR calls me and I have to verify that she is, in fact, Cindy from HR, every time she calls me, that reduces my productivity by a certain amount.

      There are ways to spend money instead of reducing productivity (like installing dedicated phones between offices that don't link to the POTS network), but losing money is hardly better than losing time.

      The moral of the story is, until losses from poor security exceed losses to productivity caused by rigorously following security protocols on average, people will not be inclined to rigorously follow those protocols.
      • by an.echte.trilingue (1063180) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:59PM (#20639729) Homepage
        No, implementing good security practices saves time, every time.

        It requires an upfront investment of time to implement and maintain the system, but it beats the hell out of spending your week re-ghosting all of the computers in the accounting department because some ex-employee decided it would be funny to install a back door, and now you have to lock down every system he had access to and also try to figure out what he could have leaked so you can notify your soon to be ex-customers of what you lost. Feel free to repeat every month or so, depending on the size of your organization.

        Or, you could give users a limited access account (which is easy to do even in windows), implement a sane permission system on your servers, implement something like a kerberos server, and make your employees read and sign a "good security practices" memo once a year so that they understand your policy and why it is important.

        Security is time well invested.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by QRDeNameland (873957)

          It requires an upfront investment of time to implement and maintain the system, but it beats the hell out of spending your week re-ghosting all of the computers in the accounting department because some ex-employee decided it would be funny to install a back door, and now you have to lock down every system he had access to and also try to figure out what he could have leaked so you can notify your soon to be ex-customers of what you lost. Feel free to repeat every month or so, depending on the size of your

      • "people will not be inclined to rigorously follow those protocols."

        Just having a bunch of protocols for people to follow just creates an illusion of security. It doesn't create real security. If you are actually depending on a protocol to protect you, then someone will probably figure out that the way to do wrong is to violate that protocol.

        What matters is the implementation of security. If an implementation of security requires a great deal of work on the part of the employees, you are pretty much gu

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by myowntrueself (607117)
        If Cindy from HR calls me and I have to verify that she is, in fact, Cindy from HR, every time she calls me, that reduces my productivity by a certain amount.

        Yeah but it could produce some good phone sex...

        Excuse me ma'am but I have to ask you a few questions to validate your identity, please bear with me.

        What are you wearing? What are you wearing *underneath* that? Are you getting hot? Oh baby do you love it? Yeah thats the way...

      • So when John calls down to the helpdesk and says he is Bob, needing his password reset, should we verify? With thousands of employees, should we?

        John's calling down and telling the helpdesk that a certain order is screwed up. It needs to be changed so that he can finish it. What the helpdesk doesn't realize is that John's getting changes made so that he can take order incentive away from Bob. The changes are minute, so Bob doesn't catch on for a while. He's new.

        So why does Bob's password always get lo
    • by vux984 (928602)
      More than 70 percent of the 1,233 organizations surveyed in 51 countries failed to list training and raising employee awareness of information security issues as a top initiative

      Whoop-de-doo. Apparently 70 percent of companies have more imporant 'top initiatives'. I'm surprised that its not even higher. And in fact, I suspect that most of the companies that put listed this in their top initiatives have more top initiatives than there are days in a year, ensuring most of them won't get any attention anyway,
  • by biocute (936687) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:33PM (#20639243) Homepage
    Time to place your order.
  • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:34PM (#20639251)
    It brings to mind the old saying 'loose lips sink ships'. Ive only had a few years experience as a sysadmin, and it was drilled into my head quite early that the one thing you can never secure is the user. Lets come up with a real story now please.
    • by Vancorps (746090) on Monday September 17, 2007 @03:40PM (#20641527)

      Yeah, we had a guy calling people in our office asking for voicemail passwords. He dialed through a company in New Jersey one day, California the next. Our system doesn't allow dialing out through the voicemail system so we weren't really vulnerable but we have a simple policy which is very easy to understand. It says no one will ever ask for any password in person, email, or over the phone. IT does not need your password for any task whatsoever so never give it out.

      Time came with this guy calling and asking and surprisingly no one gave him their password. My faith was restored. Of course this is a reasonably small company. Make it simple and people will follow it though. They can even encrypt their stuff and I still won't need their password ever because I have the recovery keys. All the mechanisms are their so it's up to sysadmins to make it simple and easy for regular folks to understand. Afterall, the folks in accounting know more about taxes than I do because that is their job. I know a little about how our taxes are calculated because I've needed to, just like they've had to learn a little about security practices. I'd say it's as fair a system as any.

  • Completely obvious and expected would be a better description.
  • by JohnnyGTO (102952) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:39PM (#20639363) Homepage
    and when it comes to computers, faxes, phone system or staplers we call him the Human.Virus

    God forbid you leave your iPod near him!
  • Viruses made it to the top spot at one point?

     
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      And even with viruses, what percentage are them are installed through dumb users running executables they shouldn't? Most of the time it comes down to dumb users. There's been very few times that a Virus/worm has been able to work itself into the computer without user interaction. Granted in the case where this has happened, like when ports are left open, and the virus sneaks in from the internet, the infection rate can be very high. However, still, most viruses, and the majority of computer/security pr
  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@@@tpno-co...org> on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:40PM (#20639383) Homepage
    No shit; I'm surprised this hasn't been the case all along. Every IT dept I've been in has been treated by the employer as a reactive service. Most of the time, we are given something to install. Not asked if it'll fit in our current IT environment, but given and asked how soon it can be installed.

    USB thumb drives are an on going headache, and an attack vector on top of that. I'm forced to wonder how serious any of these issues would be if we didn't live in a windows centric world.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by czmax (939486)
      IT should be a reactive service. Ideally there would be more communication than just "please install this", maybe something more like, "we need this service and think this would provide it". But frankly I'm tired of IT thinking they know more about my job, and what I need, than I do.



      If your current IT environment isn't capable of supporting my needs then fix it.

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Funny)

        by Mattintosh (758112) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:07PM (#20639867)
        For this exercise, I'm going to assume you're in management.

        If your current IT environment isn't capable of supporting my needs then fix it.

        If your current needs outstrip the capabilities of our current IT environment, then fund the upgrade.

        mv shoe otherfoot
      • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:35PM (#20640405)
        As you so aptly pointed out, most users (and managers) just approach IT with a demand to "please install this" only it is really an order and not a request. The users have needs yes, but often times that have already decided that a particular piece of software is "ideal" for their needs based upon the word of a salesman without even asking IT. You say that you are tired of IT thinking that they know more about your job than you do, but really that is exactly what you are doing to IT when you have already selected whatever software that you are going to use lock stock and barrel without consulting IT first about what it is that you are trying to do or asking for suggestions or an opinion on the software or possible alternatives. Remember that IT has to be concerned with what is best for all of the users and the network, not just your immediate needs. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to dissuade a user from a poor software selection merely because they heard a good sales pitch at their last conference where the salesman told them to "just ignore IT objections, because they don't know what they are talking about"...yeah and that salesman doesn't have a horse in the game either way right? wrong.

        The problem is responsibility. The IT department doesn't want to be responsible for a poor software choice that they had absolutely no input on and for which there were any number of superior alternatives. You might say that everyone wants to go to the party, but nobody wants to hang around afterwards to clean up the mess and it is always the IT department that is left without a chair when the music stops (even if IT did not champion the culprit software and was ordered to "just install it").

        If your current IT environment isn't capable of supporting my needs then fix it.

        It is often the case that this requires money which nobody ever wants to provide for more "expensive IT toys" and so problems go on until they become so notorious that somebody higher up actually approves a last minute purchase or budgets staff time to research and fix the problem.
      • IT should be a reactive service. Ideally there would be more communication than just "please install this", maybe something more like, "we need this service and think this would provide it". But frankly I'm tired of IT thinking they know more about my job, and what I need, than I do.

        And we're tired of being given software that's already been bought, being told it should do X when in fact it does ( x/10 ) due to vendor lies, and being told to fix it.

        IT should be consulted from start to finish when purchasing
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CodeBuster (516420)
      The USB thumb drive issue is more of an issue when autorun is enabled. I don't know about you, but I disable Autorun on all drives with group policy on all of my computers. I suppose that it is still possible that a virus could exploit the mounting procedure in Windows to execute code, but disabling autorun substantially raises the bar of difficulty for a potential attacker. The other problem is removal of sensitive data off site, but realistically an employee who is out to get you could just as well burn a
    • by shaka999 (335100)
      God I wish my IT dept was reactive. Maybe I could actually run some apps that would help (ok some would hurt :) ) my productivity. Our IT dept has no idea what we need to do our job and frankly they don't seem to care a whole lot. If it doesn't fit in one of their pet projects you don't have a chance of getting it approved.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Face it, it's your job to make things work so I can do my job.
      • Face it, it's your job to make things work so I can do my job.

        No shit. We are support staff, I know this. What you don't know is the work required to make applications work in a windows environment. There is so much work, and we are often so short on resources, that by working with the IT dept to find something that we know will integrate well in our environment you save us a ton of time and energy, not to mentioned the company's resources. Which, happens to help you do your job better btw.

        But please, c
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Two of these today.

      Today I've had the fun of a guy that discovered that an overflow in a big geophysics program with a lot of users on the same data is giving him hassles and he wants to keep on playing with feeding it more garbage to see why the overflow made the program fail in different ways with different degrees of database corruption. It was very difficult to convince him to stop feeding it the character that makes it redirect it's output and execute arbitrary stuff that comes after it. It's very h

  • by fishybell (516991) <{fishybell} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:41PM (#20639403) Homepage Journal
    My company is constantly tightening the security belt on its employees, but we find we can only tighten it so much.


    If we give every employee access to everything, yes problems will happen. But if we give most employees access to most things their jobs are a lot easier, and more work gets done (or the same amount of work gets done, but with less stress and overworking).

    If one of our employees decides to steal information, we'll deal with it with that employee, but that's as far as we go. We can't live in fear of an inside attack just because it's more likely than a virus (especially for a linux only shop like ourselves). A balance must be struck between full access and full security.

  • ...for hiring robots. Unless of course the robots are infected with a computer virus...

  • Mitnick is right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:42PM (#20639429)
    It's all well and good to have the tech locked down; however, the system is only as good as its weakest link - the humans. There's only so much you can do when a luser decides to keep all of his passwords on a post-it note...
    • by Carrot007 (37198) <Carrot007@thewibblerep o r t . c o .uk> on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:14PM (#20639963) Homepage
      When the user writes all his passwords down on a post it note this shows you that either IT or Management have implemented a passowrd policy that is over complex and or changed to frequently. And if it is Management then IT are to blame for not adiqualty advising them that such a policy would make the system less secure though post it note activity.

      Don't pass the blame. Deal with the problem.
      • by Nimey (114278)
        Never had a luser with a really simple password write it down on a monitor sticky, have you?

        I'm talking favorite-sports-team or granddaughter's-name simple.

        We have a password policy that mandates pwds of min 7 chars, containing 3 of (upper, lower, num, symbol), changed every 180 days. These accounts just haven't expired the passwords yet. The policy also states Thou Shalt Not Write Thy Passwords on a Sticky, at least not where everyone can find it. Lusers don't listen, of course, because they're special.
  • Cool! A use for all that non lethal weaponry the US military has been developing.
     
  • PEBKAC (Score:5, Informative)

    by Protonk (599901) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:46PM (#20639507) Homepage
    The security literature has been saying this for years. And, depending on who you classify as a 'user' this is a much broader problem. The TJX breech? If I consider that the company IT dept. allowed latitude in where computers were connected to the company intranet (for convenience) and which computers could be connected, the the protocols surrounding handling of data (either VISA [google.com], [PDF]or otherwise) become superfluous. the 'user' that wants to be able to check stock at a kiosk inserts problems not considered in the protocol.

    This is largely fixed by changing/following protocol (although following PCI would not have eliminated the TJX breech, just limited it). dictating access limits to machines, enforcing those access limits through user and key management. Enforcing segregation of data by pushing it back from the user space. Etc.

    In a lot of cases, these things can be eliminated only through design--not draconian regulations. By design I mean something separate from limitations. A limitation (for example) would be to block any traffic going to popular webmail accounds through a browser. This is pretty easily circumvented by a half dozen trivial (read: largely non-technical and non-threatening) solutions. A design solution would be to incent users to use the internal mailing system to organize their mail and to VPN to it while away. Using Outlook as a primary means to communicate makes me pine for the responsiveness and search functionality of Gmail. eventually, rules be damned, I will migrate my work email to gmail (assuming I'm not security conscious) because it offers so many inherent advantages. The solution, bein to eliminate those advantages.

    Without that, you are in the same boat that you were before. More rules, but the same incentive to break them.
    • by Protonk (599901)
      wow. editing is awesome. Breech evidently =/= breach. :)

      Also, damn google for not just linking my search result as an actual page.
    • by ratboy666 (104074)
      So I am called in to do some software work at a major company (names suppressed to protect everyone).

      "Internet access" is requested, in order to facilitate communication (read, status updates, keep track of work process, on-line manuals). "Internet access" is granted -- um... sort of.

      No "web mail" is permitted. No "ssh" connection is permitted. No internal email address is supplied. Basically, no email is allowed.

      No browsing is permitted, except on one Windows XP based machine (I work on Unix). It is possib
      • by Protonk (599901)
        Not sure what I'm supposed to comment on.

        In that case, we are both talking about the same kind of failure: a company feeling that total restriction means security. It's inherently not true. when I wrote about webmail being superior to local email in a lot of cases for a lot of companies, I was referring to some intrinsic superiority (portability) and some non-intrinsic superiority (ease of use, files storage limits, searchability, 'smart' contact lists).

        The best way for the company to limit use of the web
    • by CompMD (522020)
      "Using Outlook as a primary means to communicate makes me pine" I use pine for email too!
  • "Can we get you on Mastermind, Sybil? Our next contestant, Sybil Fawlty from Tall Key, special subject, the Bleedin' Obvious..."
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:57PM (#20639691) Homepage Journal
    I mean, I wouldn't have had to set the place on fire if they would have quit moving my desk and asked me to kill cockroaches and kept on stealing my stapler.
  • ...I require network traffic to use secure protocols (SSL/TLS, etc) on the internal networks I administer, even if they are protected from external attackers by a firewall. Use POP3S/IMAPS to prevent the employees from accessing others' mailboxes. Run your intranet website on HTTPS. Use LDAPS. Force CIFS connections to be signed and encrypted and to use LMv2/NTLMv2.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:01PM (#20639771)
    Workers have probably displaced viruses simply on the strength of MediaDefender's e-mails all going public this weekend due to the truly stupid actions of one person, whom I'm very glad today that I'm not him!
  • Using unlicensed software / bypassing security is not 100% the workers fault. Some times they need to do it to get the job done on time and the official way takes to long. Some bosses have even setup there own severs for testing just to get it done faster as some times the official way takes a lot of time for every little update to the project. Some times even IT works do things like this and it seems to happen more when the IT boss is clueless about IT.
  • by PPH (736903) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:03PM (#20639809)
    .. according to the BOFH [wikipedia.org].
  • Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravis777 (123605) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:08PM (#20639873)
    Even when I do have a small virus outbreak, its because people are visiting sites that they know they shouldn't. I have Sophos setup to block installations of all toolbars except for Google, users cannot run Limewire, Kazaa, Bearshare, or so forth (BitTorrent is still enabled), and soforth. Before I upgraded Sophos and it was not able to block apps, I was always having problems with people going to SmileyCentral, or downloading Weatherbug. Now they can go to the websites all they want, it will not let them install the software.

    But yeah, most problems are user related. Broken pins on power adaptors, caused by users jabbing the plugs into their laptops, out of harddrive space, fixed by deleting their iTunes, computer running slow, i go and remove tons of crap the user has installed, user has e-mail bouncing, because user had ignored notifications from IT that they were approaching their e-mail quota, Illustrator on the Mac will not start because user has deleted system fonts, modem not working after user used modem during lightning storm (I am actually looking at my tickets as I am writing this, these are my tickets).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by myz24 (256948)
      Don't allow your users to be local admins, this has done well for me to prevent installations.
      • by gravis777 (123605)
        No can do, we have software that will not even run unless the user has local admin rights. We have been down that avenue before.
        • by PitaBred (632671)
          Can't you use "Run As..." for just that software? Or hell, see if it'll run under Wine? ;)
          • by Nimey (114278)
            But you don't *want* your lusers to have access to *any* Admin account, or they'll just start logging on as that instead. That's why you can't use "run as".
      • by Nimey (114278)
        Can't do that with most Adobe software, unless they've wised up recently. There's other software that *must* have Admin rights to run.

        In theory you could figure out exactly which files and registry keys the poxy things need write access to, but that's almost never documented, and it's better for them not to write to hkey_local_machine anyway.
  • by 44BSD (701309) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:13PM (#20639949)
    494 out of 5,000 responded. I wonder if the 9% who did are at all unlike the 91% who did not? Could it be, ya think??

    It's called non-response bias.

    They admit right up front that the results (even if there were no non-response bias) don't generalize to IT in general, since their members are not drawn from IT in general.

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:16PM (#20640009) Homepage

    I don't mean, alienating them as employees — that's another story. I mean alienating them as computer users — by bullshit like blocking certain sites or other services (such as instant messengers), in particular.

    You will then not have to chase the violators and waste time (money) on the fruitless pursuit... The pursuit, which also severely hampers the productivity of the best of your users... "Access from home? No, you'll need five approvals for me to allow that."

  • Maybe it's cheaper to not bother with security education initiatives, because the people who are going to commit security fraud won't change their minds knowing that it's wrong -- they already know it's wrong. The people who unwittingly violate security probably wouldn't be able to regularly practice the secure workaround, thus exposing the same security holes as always, just less frequently exposing them.
  • It's been almost a decade since I decided to start working towards infosec rather than web development. Finally, this year, I'm earning slightly more than I was back in 1998. (Admittedly I was massively overpaid then - it was the bubble! in central London! and I could write Perl, /and/ read it! :) )

    So bring on the new attacks, the more determined villains, the organised crime groups. It's the closest thing to a job for life i'LL ever have.

  • The obvious conclusion is all the workers should be fired and replaced with viruses.
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:39PM (#20640469) Homepage
    ...is to fire everyone.
  • Wait, you mean social hacking and stupid people are a dangerous combination, or that corporations get ripped off by inside jobs? No way?! Oh come on, this shouldn't be news to anyone. As IT systems make up more and more of corporate infrastructure of course "evil" people are going to use them to steal. Maybe the news is that they have clue about IT systems. In which case this is good news, maybe execs will stop making stupid IT choices... wait, never mind.

  • No big surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr. McGibby (41471) on Monday September 17, 2007 @04:57PM (#20642815) Homepage Journal
    This isn't a big surprise to me. I've noticed over the years that IT folk are less and less concerned with users and more concerned with hardware. Desktop support seems to be the one thing that no one wants to do, probably because it pays the least.
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:00PM (#20642855) Homepage Journal
    I don't think it's news to anyone here that users are the greatest threat to a corporate network. Even the classifications they use are useless; think about the times a virus has attacked your network and I'll bet it was a user doing something that was prohibited by company policy that set the virus loose.

    So let's look at the possible solutions. We've got "lock everything down" in the lead - that's fine in its way but causes worker dissatisfaction because they can't use the creative solutions they've developed, can't use the tools they're used to in the way they're used to, etc. Ultimately, if you get things limited to the point that all possibility of damage is prevented you've also created a situation where productivity is severely limited or prevented. And it's just a matter of time before it's pointed out to you that you weren't as secure as you thought you were.

    Then there's the "monitor and log everything" plan - give the users a quick class in acceptable use of IT assets then "correct" anyone who violates the rules. This overlooks the very real truth that most of the harm caused by users is not intentional; it's almost always an unexpected result from a silly mistake. The result of this plan is to create an environment of fear where everyone is careful to follow the rules exactly, won't do anything that's "not my job" and if something goes wrong nobody saw anything. Ultimately you end up with all the problems you had before but with no useful information on how it happened / how to prevent it from happening again - and low productivity due to the workers being unwilling to do any more than necessary.

    The real answer is that You can't solve personnel problems with technological solutions. Forget what they taught you in your MBA program and what the security software vendors told you, treat the workers like human beings and help them to understand what can go wrong and how to avoid it. Remember that IT's mission is to support the workers. Offer classes on information security, available to all, and on paid time so they'll have the chance and ability to take part. IT works much, much better when the rest of the corporate staff are partners, not antagonists.

  • Here is some well-meaning advice from our IT department that gives great insight into this mess:

    TIP #5: Good Passwords

    Never write down your password! Instead, try to come up with passwords that are hard to guess but easy to remember. For example, you could use the first letters of a favorite rhyme and add some special characters. Such as:

    Hickory dickory dock, the mouse went up the clock.

    Might become: Hd2,tmwutc.

    Do ya *really* think that 'Hd2,tmwutc.' is easy to remember? If so, you must be an IT pro! If not
    • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday September 17, 2007 @06:32PM (#20644247) Homepage

      Actually that is easy to remember: the name of the rhyme you used plus the fact that you take the first letter of each word. The rhyme itself should come to mind instantly once you think of the name. The problem is that it's so hard to extract the letters and type it in that even I wouldn't want to have to use it.

      And frankly, concentrating on password security misses the obvious: most attacks these days aren't on the passwords. Why should I (as an attacker) waste my time trying to crack your user's passwords when I can send them a simple phishing e-mail that'll get them to give me their passwords? Or maybe just a little trojan disguised as a neat-o screen saver or Web control that'll silently grab all the saved password lists from IE, Outlook, OE, etc. and send it to me? Or that'll install itself under your user account, authenticated and all, and let Windows handle the details of supplying your credentials whenever I want to do something? The big problem isn't keeping unauthorized users out, it's in what authorized users do with their authorization that they shouldn't be doing but are allowed to do anyway.

    • Getting users to have decent passwords can be very very hard.

      I have still not convinced one of our directors that 'director' may not be the best password in the world... or that another one whose name is David should perhaps reconsider having 'david' for a password.

      They just don't seem to be able to get it through their heads.

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