GhostNet shows protection of branch offices is important

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International companies should look to secure their regional offices and their websites and networks as robustly as their main sites.

Referring to the recent GhostNet incident, Finjan CTO Yuval Ben-Itzhak claimed that a greater emphasis should be put on the networks of branch offices to ensure complete protection of the company.

Ben-Itzhak said: "With news reports like this, there is a tendency to overlook the fact that we live and work in a global village, and that many companies have branch offices in the Middle East or, of course, that Middle Eastern firms have operations elsewhere in the world."

He also claimed that as cybercriminals are now sufficiently criminally-driven to research their victims and, as a result, target their branch offices, knowing full well that this is their best chance of gaining unauthorised access to the organisation concerned.

He also claimed that by targeting regional pages of major companies, which have lesser page visitors, but whose page accesses are still measured in the tens of thousands, he says, it is far easier to get these injected pages to the top of the search engine lists.

Ben-Itzhak said: "This means that, when someone searches for XYZ Corporation Middle East, they have a greater chance of ending up on the compromised pages of XYZ Corp's pages than if they searched for the company name alone.

"This is where weaker defences on branch office IT systems really come into play, as their weaknesses can be exploited by hackers wanting to route innocent Internet users over to their compromised sites."

Finjan urged IT managers to spend just as much time and resources on securing their branch offices as their head office. Ben-Itzhak said: "Only by doing this can they hope to equally protect all aspects of their organisation's IT operations against criminals."

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