Operating in a War Zone

Nov. 1, 2001
It's time to protect your data and systems before the inevitable happens.

Operating in a War Zone

Welcome to the brave new world. If you’re like most people, security is a word you’re using almost every day. Well, in addition to the obvious security issues you’re coping with, don’t forget to secure the computers, controls and communication systems in your material handling processes.

The government has been issuing alerts about the possibility of cyber attacks. These alerts are not excessive precaution or paranoia. They are based on statistics. Cyber attacks rise after a physical attack.

Some of these attacks are just malicious, like the recent Nimda computer worm. Others may be perpetrated by terrorists. Either way, material handlers should take the threat seriously.

You may have already experienced disruptions in the flow of material goods. The flow of information is no less important to material handling operations. In fact, synchronization of data with inventory can be crucial. Thus, it’s important to protect your supply chain and

Internet connections.

The Internet itself is fairly robust and can withstand considerable attack. But what about your connection to it? Over and over in testimony to Congress, experts point out that the weakest link is software.

It’s bad enough that the infrastructure design behind most software programs has many flaws, but the fixes and patches create even more vulnerability. One of the biggest problems with the “repair” system is that most IT people don’t install those patches and fixes. In too many cases, they are generations of repairs behind.

It’s now become a critical matter. And it might be up to you to ensure the software that runs your operations is current with any fixes or patches needed to protect against any form of hacking or destructiveness. It should go without saying that any security protection that automatically comes with your code be ON. If it’s not, turn it on.

Business as well as personal PCs and servers are wide open. Worms and viruses can easily gain access and commandeer them. The result is often denial of service as well as lost time repairing the damage to corrupted or lost files and reloading of systems. Now, however, we’re talking about more serious consequences. The Wall Street Journal says the recent attack will cost the U.S. economy about $100 billion this year. You can bet this was noticed, and future attacks will try to disrupt global commerce, as well as further damage the U.S. economy. We’ve endured worm and virus attacks before, and they’ve shut down portions of the Internet. Each time, we’ve recovered, but each time viruses have been more virulent. (And experts are warning they will only become more so.) It takes a bit longer to recover. We don’t need this.

Before the inevitable happens, protect your systems and ensure your access to the Internet has security measures that prevent unknown sources from taking control of your controls and PCs. If your organization connects to the Internet in any way, presume it’s your responsibility to ensure your computers are safe from attack.

Leslie Langnau

senior technical editor

[email protected]

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