Fighting fire with fire

A next-gen firewall - can you hack it?

There was little seasonal goodwill in evidence when, just days before Christmas, Netflix’s US Twitter account was hacked.

A group calling itself OurMine sent several tweets, including: “World security is sh*t. We are here to prove this :)”

It took several hours before Netflix regained control. Meanwhile OurMine has gone on to hack Twitter accounts belonging to National Geographic, Marvel, Sony and more. This begs the question that if a global tech firm like Twitter can suffer such a breach, are the rest of us ever safe online?

Old systems not fit for purpose

The statistics are alarming. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 93 per cent of data breaches occur in minutes or even seconds, with innocent looking email attachments being the number one source of malware.

In such a climate, perhaps it’s not surprising Virgin Media Business MLE Sales Executive, Olivia Evans, has seen increasing numbers of enterprises investing in carefully managed firewalls.

She says:

“Many firms are struggling to keep up with technological change, so there is demand for having people proactively managing and acting upon the risks identified.”


Business Services Specialist Alastair Tucker-Brown points out that while firewalls were once seen as a silver bullet to ward off hackers, the most basic systems are no longer fit for purpose. That’s because as malicious activity becomes increasingly specialised, the protective measures required to counteract it must improve too.

He says: “An old firewall used to block, log the access attempt and alert the administrator. Its Achilles heel is giving the bad news after the event has happened.

A Next Generation Firewall will focus on individual activity, namely what someone is accessing, where they are from, the device on which they are operating and the software used. It is intelligent and verifies that an individual is who they say they are, with access to certain parts of the network only granted based on the incoming traffic profile.”

The risks of smart tech

MLEs using Virgin Media Business’s network benefit from client-specific protective measures. This allows us to create a holistic security solution that far exceeds the outdated one-size-fits-all firewall.

Alastair says: “It’s about finding the right level of security for the individual customer. Our Cyber Security Maturity assessment is normally the starting point. One hundred questions based around the client are answered during a workshop. We advise on a range of services from helping them access their security policy through to designing, installing and maintaining the customer’s security estate. It is key that we know how to secure the customer’s investment.”

Practising what we preach

A major council client in north England recently replaced its outdated security system with a Next Generation Firewall that integrates seamlessly with their back office systems. It can detect anomalies in user profiles and flag them to the administrator. However, Alastair believes it is the health sector which most needs to improve its IT and processes.

He says: “Health organisations are most vulnerable and need the most help. Hacking their systems could potentially threaten lives. For example, in the past hackers have compromised IP-enabled insulin pumps, which could result in someone ultimately being killed. That’s why working with a responsible network provider is all-important.”

Naturally Virgin Media Business takes the threats described by Alastair and Sharon seriously, and we are constantly updating technology to keep ahead of hackers.

Alastair says: “The vendors and manufacturers we use invest millions into research and development to stay in front. Combine this with a consultative led engagement with our customers and understanding the business impact and risks before recommendation of the right products, processes and people, and it makes us a different proposition to just buying off the shelf products. We also constantly monitor our own networks and methodologies in-house. Our customers benefit, because when it comes to internet security, we practice what we preach.”

So the answer to the previous question is yes – with us you can be safe online.

If you would like to know more about how we can help keep your business safe in the age of disruption, call 0808 115 8891.


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