Securing Against Today’s Threats

Whether you’re working in the public or private sector, you can’t get too deep into a discussion about IT without eventually asking, “What about security?”

Organizations often use firewalls and network security techniques to ensure that people who have no affiliation with your organization aren’t able to penetrate your network and poke around in the IT infrastructure. However a most recent Wall Street Journal article indicates that it’s no longer enough to secure your infrastructure.  The idea of using a firewall to perform border control is no longer enough to protect your network.  Instead of hackers attacking the network they are launching sophisticated attacks at your employees.  Some of these attacks are geared towards using information gained from social networking applications that your employees may be using to effectively collaborate.

Ideally, companies want their employees to be able to collaborate freely without worrying about security issues. Therefore, every organization has to strike the right balance between being able to work together effectively to solve problems and being able to ensure that information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, whether those hands belong to someone external to the company or someone within the company. Collaboration technology can greatly enhance the process of exchanging information across organizations. This exchanging of information often causes concern about breaches in security, but when implemented properly, collaboration environments can foster enterprise-wide collaboration without compromising security.

Instead of looking toward external applications to provide these rich collaborative environments, organizations should provide these rich social networking applications under their control.  This allows the organization to fully control the security of the collaborative capabilities while promoting collaboration within the workforce.

Organizations should integrate the collaborative environment to the corporate authentication and authorization services.  By connecting the collaborative environment to the corporate authentication service users gain a level of confidence that they are conversing with another person identified by the system. This helps to build a level of trust, which is a necessary component for a collaborative environment to go viral in your organization.

Next, the collaborative environment needs to be integrated with the corporate policy server. When completed, the same corporate group policy implementation also applies to the virtual environment –thus eliminating mistakes of not properly replicating policy permissions. This in itself goes a long way to building trust that the information within the virtual environment is being properly controlled. In the virtual environment, authorization determines who has access to virtual spaces and to the various features of the collaborative environment.

Protecting information internally is as serious a matter as protecting it externally. Establishing a familiar authorization scheme helps ensure trust among users as well as between user and server, thus spurring collaboration. Although this means that you have a greater ability to compartmentalize information, don’t forget that the very purpose of collaboration technology is to foster the sharing of information as freely but securely as possible. With security an even greater concern today, the balance between encouraging people to collaborate and ensuring that information can travel safely is increasingly important.

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