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October 2003

Proactive security: Make offense your best defense

It's hard to be proactive when it comes to data security. For all the talk about security as a business enabler, security is mostly about defense, and defense is inherently reactive. The opposition acts, you react. Someone tries to SYN flood you, you block their IP. A virus infects your network, you quarantine it, find the infected systems, and clean it up. But the effectiveness of your defense depends on how well you anticipate your opponent's actions. Think about a football game. A good defense doesn't simply react, willy-nilly, to the offense's play after the ball is snapped. Rather, they strategize, analyze and adjust many steps ahead of the play. They break down game film to determine their opponent's tendencies; they rotate players and change formations depending on the score, quarter, down and field position; they constantly fine tune their position and check off assignments, right up until the ball is snapped. Information security is no different: the more successful your "pre-actions," the less pressure there is on your...

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