Stopping the stranger in the house

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

In the recent movie The Good Shepherd, the American and British spymasters describe someone on the inside leaking information to the enemy as having "a stranger in the house." That is a very apt description. For while much of the media coverage on security these days seems to be focused on fending off attacks from the outside, many of the greatest threats your customers face are the ones from within the walls.
Just as in the spy world, catching and stopping the stranger in the house can be a time-consuming, difficult challenge with the current toolset. After all, someone has already let him or her in the front door and said it's okay to go onto the network.
That's where the new generation of physical layer management software will help. It provides a means of authenticating users based on their physical location within the walls, helping spot the anomalies in logins and usage patterns in order to improve security.
And since this is a relatively new technology in the United States, it can be installed with less pricing pressure while providing a competitive differentiator for your organization.
Physical layer management software can improve security through several means. Among them are:Tracking login patterns to determine when something is outside the norm.
For example, suppose the CEO always logs in from either his office or the boardroom. One day he logs in from the customer service floor instead. This could be a case of a stolen password.
Physical layer management software will immediately recognize this abnormality and send an alert to the designated security person, showing not only the login information, but also the exact physical location in the building where the potential breach is occurring. Security can move in quickly and catch the "stranger" in the act.
Suppose the key card system shows no record of the CEO entering the building, yet the network management system shows he is logging onto the network from within the building. It might be legitimate, or it might be a case of stolen identity. By tying the physical layer management software to the building access system, security will know immediately that there may be a breach and can act on it before valuable information is stolen or passed to a competitor.
In a large or mid-size enterprise, it can be nearly impossible to track down the source of an E911 telephone call if the person doesn't identify where he/she is located. Physical layer management software solves that issue by logging the location of every voice device plugged into a jack.
If a call goes out, it can be used to pinpoint the location immediately, and even show it on a CAD drawing of the building, allowing emergency response personnel to reach the source of the call quickly. In E911 situations, minutes often mean lives, so being able to locate the source immediately is invaluable to these efforts.
These are just some of the many never-before-available capabilities you can deliver to your customers, creating new, profitable revenue streams and opening doors that may have otherwise been closed.
Having strangers in the house can't be avoided. But it doesn't mean your customers are left with no recourse. Show them how you can help them improve internal security (as well as overall IT operations) by integrating physical layer management software into their networks.

Joel deNeuf is a Systems Engineer at iTRACS Corporation (www.itracs.com), which develops software for professionals that require immediate visibility of physical components in their complex diversified networks. He can be reached at jdeneuf@itracs.com.