SSL or TLS Promote Improved Data Security Against New Threats

Improved Data SecurityIn today’s business world, there is virtually no company that can operate completely without computers and related technology.  Large businesses and corporations usually have an entire IT department dedicated to providing for their needs and keeping company operations safe online, but those who run and manage small businesses rarely have the luxury of even a single in-house expert to make sure that their business technology is kept secured against an evolving threat environment.

One recent threat that businesses must keep abreast of is the Firesheep Wi-Fi attack tool, which allows a hacker to monitor users’ web sessions on a network once he or she has managed to make an illegal connection to that network.  Such monitoring means that an attacker can see any information that crosses the screens of legitimate employees; using screen capping tools, such information can be saved for later analysis and use.  Data that the company believed to be secure can end up entering the public domain if the hacker chooses to release it, but a more likely scenario is that the hacker will use it to commit identity theft or financial fraud – or offer it for sale to others who specialize in these criminal activities.

Data security experts advise that the best way to prevent the use of the Firesheep Wi-Fi attack tool is to make sure that connections to all websites are managed through a Secure Socket Layers (SSL) connection or its successor, a Transport Secure Layer (TLS) connection.  This should even include connections to the company’s own home page.

Using TLS or SSL does increase the processing power needed to conduct online operations.  For this reason, many businesses have shied away from extensive use of it.  According to those with vast experience in the field of computer safety, however, this strategy exposes the business to serious vulnerabilities that far outweigh the cost of preventing them in the first place.

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