December 11, 2007

Information Security and Enterprise Architecture

Information security is generally considered a cross-cutting area of enterprise architecture. However, based on its importance to the overall architecture, I treat information security as its own perspective (similar to performance, business, information, services, and technology).

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 11 December 2007, professional hackers are getting smarter and more sophisticated in their attacks and this requires new IT tools to protect the enterprise. Here are some of the suggestions:

  1. Email scams—“hackers have responded to improved filtering software and savvier population by aiming their attacks at specific individuals, using publicly available information to craft a message designed to dupe a particular person of group of people” In response, organizations are installing antivirus and antimalware software from multiple vendors to increase the chance, the an attack that gets by one security software products, will be stopped by one of the others. These products can be obtained from vendors like Sophos, Sybari, Micosoft, Symantec, and McAfee.
  2. Key loggers—“one common form of malware is a key logger, which captures the user names and passwords that an unsuspecting computer user types, and then sends these to a hacker.” However, software from Biopassword Inc. can thwart this by recording employees typing rhythms, so that even a hacker that knows a username and password is denied access if he types too fast or too slow.
  3. Patrolling the network—hackers who get past the firewall often have free rein to roam once inside the network. However, CoSentry Networks Inc. has a product that imposes controls on where a user can go on the network, so even someone with a valid login will be prevented from snooping around the network or accessing information from an unapproved location.
  4. Policing the police—one of the biggest threats to an enterprise is from the insiders, employees who have access to the systems and information. Software from Application Security Inc., however, monitors access, changes, repeated failed logins, and suspicious activity and notifies the designated security officer.

From a user-centric EA standpoint, information security is paramount to protect the enterprise, its mission execution, its employees, and stakeholders. As the WSJ points out, “breaches of corporate computer security have reached epidemic proportions. So far this year more than 270 organizations have lost sensitive information like customer credit-card or employee social security numbers—and those are just the ones that have disclosed such incidents publicly.” EA must help the chief information security officer to identify these enterprise security threats and select appropriate countermeasures to implement.


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