Engineer security

Cyberwarfare and network security

Cyberwarfare has been in the news this week with the discussions around defence spending cuts. This is hugely topical and hugely important.

The debate of course hinges specifically around national defence. We don’t want the Trident missile system being hacked. Warfare doesn’t just extend to weapons though.

France is currently grinding to a halt due to their seasonal batch of strikes – oo lalaa, whose turn is it this time lads?!

End User security

Virus Problems?

One of our big PWAN customers had a virus problem over the weekend. For those of you who don’t know a Private Wide Area Network is basically a secure corporate network run over public networks such as ADSL and leased lines.

It took the customer most of the weekend to identify the source of the problem which came from a rogue PC at one site. What Timico was able to do was to shut off access to that site from all the others. This allowed the other sites to contiunue functioning and prevented the virus from spreading.

The virus was eventually identified as one that had not been covered in the customer’s security software virus definition package.

It did take some time to fix but all’s well that ends well. There is a lesson to be learnt here though. This was quite a big customer with almost 100 sites in their network but they would almost certainly have benefitted from a network security audit. It could have saved them several man days worth of effort over the weekend and probably kept the IT manager’s hair from going grey.

End User internet security

Alphabet attacks

Following my last post which was on security I was sat in the Timico NOC today and interestingly watched a SPAM attack in progress.

It was an alphabet attack. This is one where someone’s email server is compromised and used to send out SPAM by rotating through the alphabet for email addresses (eg [email protected] – the SPAM algorithm works its way through every combination of alphabetical variants. In this case it was targetting Italian .it addresses.

Our network monitoring picked it up and we immediately blacklisted/shut down access to that Exchange mail server. We also contacted the customer to let him know and so that he could take remedial action and remove the offending SPAM.

Apart from being interesting to watch it in action, a bit like standing on the edge of a battlefield watching the fighting, it again highlighted the need to have secure passwords. In this case we tried accessing the offending server and were able to log on using a simple admin/password combination of credentials.

When I started this blog I didn’t think that security would become such a mainstream subject but I was wrong

Engineer security

Network Security

One subject that is dear to the heart of a major corporation is network security. One often hears anecdotal evidence of the huge steps companies take to protect their intellectual property. I even knew a company whose boardroom was “secure” and had regular scans for listening devices. Also there have been a number of high profile news items where CDs with bank account information have gone astray in the post or where laptops have been stolen resulting in embarrassing security breaches.


For a smaller organisation it doesn’t necessarily make economic sense to employ dedicated IT staff to look after the security of their network. This doesn’t make their important information any less valuable in relative terms than that of a major international corporation.


Security is a huge subject so where do you start. To begin with businesses can make sure that the way they connect to the outside world is secure.

  • Sign up for a good quality anti-virus and anti spam service that is updated regularly – don’t rely on the one that often comes as a free trial with your PC.
  • Make sure that you have a company firewall and that this is properly managed
  • Ensure that you have adequate resilience in place for critical business components/resources. Eg use a server with dual power supplies, back up critical data daily (at least)
  • If you are using a Wireless LAN is this properly protected/encrypted?
  • Are your passwords secure (eg “password” is not a secure password) and how often do you change them?

This is all basic stuff but a small business needs to make sure that it has it all covered. A little time spent on prevention is better that the days of effort it might take you to recover from a virus attack or someone maliciously hacking into your network.