With the proliferation of Information Technology (Companies) and the efficiency it gives businesses today, securing your network against SPAM, viruses, Malware and Hackers has become vital to survival. The very technology that has allowed businesses to become so efficient and productive also brings the risk of catastrophe, if that technology fails or is compromised. Therefore, it is vital that any business that relies on IT for its productivity make sure that they have taken practical steps to secure their network infrastructure.
There are several areas of concern when considering securing any IT network, including user access control, data backup and protection, firewalls, etc., but for the purpose of this article the focus will be limited to protecting a network from viruses, SPAM, and other Malware.
Most computer users are familiar with the need to protect their computers from viruses and most companies have antivirus software installed on their servers and workstations. However, one of the biggest threats to network functionality comes from email. Emails are delivered directly to the user’s desktop and can go through firewalls as well as virus scans, depending upon the nature of the Malware they may contain. Then, if a user inadvertently opens the infected email and perhaps clicks on the links it contains, they can infect their workstation and alow it to spread to the entire network.
To secure the multiple points of potential infection it is recommended that email be scanned by a third-party SPAM filtering, Malware, and virus protection vendor before being delivered to the company’s Exchange or mail server. The company’s firewall should also be configured to only accept eamil from the third party scanning servers. This will vastly reduce the SPAM getting to the company Mail server, and stop known Malware. Finally, the Exchange or mail server should also have virus and Malware software running on it. Why, since the mail is supposedly checked before delivery by the third party scanning service? Because users can bring in infected laptops and connect to the network behind the firewall, users can also access webmail from their personal accounts and bring Malware into their computers directly. Also, users can get Malware from websites they visit. When this happens the virus or Malware must be stopped on the network side of the firewall and to do that requires that the proper software be installed directly on the Exchange or Mail server. A recommended antivirus anti-malware solution for a typical small business network is illustrated below in figure 1.