Welcome!

Security Authors: Trevor Parsons, Pat Romanski, Lisa Pope, Elizabeth White, Gilad Parann-Nissany

Related Topics: Security, Wireless, SOA & WOA, Web 2.0, Cloud Expo

Security: Article

Online Holiday Sales Have Begun: Have You Secured Your Enterprise Network?

Do employees really need access to the corporate network via their smartphones?

It's that time of the year again. The flood of email alerts showcasing online holiday shopping deals fill the inbox at your office PC, laptops and wireless devices as merchants attempt to lure online shoppers to "click and save" while supplies last. In fact, reports show that this year's "holiday shopping" deals have already started as retailers attempt to stretch the holiday shopping season - to begin even earlier than Black Friday.

According to a recent report in Time, Booz & Co. chief retail strategist, Thom Blischok states. "We're not going to see a huge increase in sales growth for Black Friday this year....What we do expect is a lot of ‘showcasing' on Black Friday. Shoppers will check things out in stores, electronics especially, but then purchase online on the Monday after. Cyber Monday sales will explode this year."

While this is good news for merchants, it can become a virtual nightmare for corporate network administrators. With millions of online shoppers turning their office PCs, laptops, and wireless devices into online shopping carts, they hog valuable network bandwidth meant for corporate applications such as e-mail, SAP, Salesforce, and other business-critical applications.

The onslaught of personal smartphones and tablets connecting to corporate networks fully capable of performing browser-based shopping are further affecting normal business operations. According to ABI Research, more than 36 percent of consumers own at least three wireless devices. eCommerce merchants now alert wired consumers with daily deals almost instantly via mobile marketing. This surge has placed greater demands on network monitoring solutions as the mobile device market continues to grow at an astounding rate of five billion subscribers worldwide.

Most organizations allowing employee-owned devices onto their corporate networks (73% according to Aberdeen) find it not only drains their bandwidth, but also opens up severe internal security threats to proprietary information stored on the network. Employers assume this as increased productivity for employees armed with mobile devices and cost savings for hardware not purchased by the corporate office as most employees (54 percent, according to Yankee Group) demand to use their own devices at work.

According to IDC Research, however, 30-40 percent of Internet use in the workplace is non-business related. Vault.com found 37 percent of workers admit to surfing the Web constantly at work for personal interests. This underscores the need for mobile device traffic monitoring. How can network admins monitor employee internet usage and take corrective action?

Companies can easily set guidelines for network traffic monitoring to safeguard against employees armed with BYOD - especially during high traffic holiday shopping/sale months - in a few easy steps.

MAC Addresses and Mobile Devices
The old and sort of cumbersome way is to monitor the unique MAC addresses that are used by each smart mobile device that accesses an Ethernet network. The 6 byte (i.e., 48 bit) MAC address is generally in two parts: The first 3 bytes are the MAC Address vendor ID generally shared by hundreds or even tens of thousands of devices produced by the manufacturer; the second set of three bytes are unique to the device.

A 48-bit Ethernet MAC address has two components, each of which is 24 bits:

*24-bit Organizational Unique Identifier (OUIIEEE regulates the assignment of OUI numbers. Within the OUI, the two following bits have meaning only when used in the destination address:

  1. Broadcast or multicast bit - indicates to the receiving interface the frame is destined a group of end stations on the LAN segment.
  2. Locally administered address bit - normally combines OUI and a 24-bit station address. This is universally unique; however, if the address is modified locally, this bit should be set. Some vendors like Apple set this bit automatically.

Generally, the MAC address is not changed by the end user, thus dynamic IP addresses are often not used to track or report on mobile phone devices. Organizations using NetFlow and IPIX can in fact track these MAC addresses.

MAC Addresses and NetFlow
Traditional flow data (e.g., NetFlow v5) exports IP addresses, but not MAC addresses. NetFlow v9 and IPFIX introduce the ability to export any information on the router including MAC address.

A reliable Network Traffic Analyzer can be used to report to report on NetFlow and IPFIX. The NetFlow Analyzer should offer a filtering architecture to allow traffic analysts to include or exclude portions of MAC addresses. If the administrator wants to narrow a particular vendor (e.g., 00.00.0c) or the iPhone (e.g., 60:33:4b, 64.b9.38, etc.), a reporting tool can filter on these vendor IDs. Once vendor IDs are added to the report, the type can be changed to view different reports. For example, the top domains these mobile devices are visiting can be obtained if the router, switch, or firewall exporting the NetFlow or IPFIX includes URL information. The IT manager can often click on the domain (e.g. facebook.com) and look at URLs visited with mobile device.

Tracking BYOD
By forcing users to authenticate all devices onto the network and agreeing to an operating system scan, network administrators can maintain an active inventory of who (i.e., username) authenticated onto the network and with what type of device. Detailed reports can be run on the volume of iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, iPads, etc. that have authenticated onto the network. Since the MAC address is obtained from every authenticated device, it can be cross referenced with the NetFlow and IPFIX received to look at traffic patterns. This is a much more scalable solution and less error prone approach than the traditional track-down-all-the-mac-addresses approach.

Smartphones: Network Security Challenge
Allowing smartphone access to corporate resources often requires adapting new corporate mobile strategies and policies. Many companies provide VPN access to the corporate network from computers when working remotely. While VPNs offer a secure connection by encapsulating data, many smartphones don't support them (e.g., iPhone). This is partly because the hardware doesn't have the processing power to keep up with encryption processes on-the-fly. Due to pressure from management and remote users, VPN enforcement is often lax. Most employees obtain corporate access from any public network, which includes public places like local coffee shops. This opens Pandora's Box when it comes to security threats.

Smartphones are an ideal tool for cybercriminals to push their malware, viruses, worms and other threats onto corporate networks. With many important titles, email addresses and phone numbers sitting on just about every network-capable mobile phone, stealing confidential emails or pushing botnets onto the company network is easier with traditional security measures put aside in favor of easy remote access. With smartphone synchronization, infection can easily migrate onto a PC - a Trojan horse method that infects the PC could provide access to the corporate network. On the other hand, the data carried on smartphones can be targeted through malware on PCs.

Direct Attacks on the Mobile Phone
Some employees try to increase the security of their phone with special anti-theft software or by encrypting their memory card. These solutions are aimed at making data protected from physical attacks. However, those are done by pickpockets, who are less interested in the mobile phone content than reusing or reselling the device.

Cybercriminals do care about sensitive information stored on smartphones, but they don't need physical access to the phone to retrieve it. Rather, they will exploit any vulnerability - for instance in the phone's Web browser (such as the WebKit vulnerabilities on Android phones) - or use social engineering tricks to install malware on the phone. Once the phone is infected, it's easy for the cybercriminal to access any data on the device. In those cases, the locks are useless and the memory card is dynamically decrypted when used.

Businesses must add employees to the corporate network easily and cost-effectively while maintaining desired security levels and remote management capabilities. Traditionally, the RIM BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) has been the gold standard among organizations with corporate-liable policies, providing sophisticated security and management capabilities.

However, smartphones like Androids and iPhones are becoming more popular, and some organizations feel obligated to embrace these as part of the employee-owned smartphone strategy. These are also supporting minimum security requirements, like timed-lock and remote wipe in the case of a lost or stolen handset. Some mobile apps, like Touchdown for Android, provide Exchange ActiveSync capabilities that support security policies to ensure security of the corporate data on the smartphone. Clearly, organizations need to rethink their mobile Smartphone strategies and take into account the proliferation of employee-owned smartphones.

Setting up single sign-on is another strategy that could be implemented on corporate networks. However, as of today, it's not supported on the iPhone. Whatever the decision, a careful evaluation of mobile devices accessing the network needs to be executed.

Ultimately, the question is: Do employees really need access to the corporate network via their smartphones? If they are provided access, then IT must secure the network to make sure the onslaught of online holiday shopping and sales offerings don't turn the season to "nightmare" before Christmas for the network bandwidth.

So, this holiday season, stay safe out there and don't forget to drive safe - on the road and in cyberspace.

More Stories By Michael Patterson

Michael Patterson, is the founder & CEO of Plixer and the product manager for Scrutinizer NetFlow and sFlow Analyzer. Prior to starting Somix and Plixer, Mike worked in a technical support role at Cabletron Systems, acquired his Novell CNE and then moved to the training department for a few years. While in training he finished his Masters in Computer Information Systems from Southern New Hampshire University and then left technical training to pursue a new skill set in Professional Services. In 1998 he left the 'Tron' to start Somix and Plixer.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world. The next @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, California. Since its launch in 2008, Cloud Expo TV commercials have been aired and CNBC, Fox News Network, and Bloomberg TV. Please enjoy our 2014 commercial.