Information Security Services, Threat Assessment, Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing

Information Security Service Providers – an Overview

Information Security Service Providers in Canada

Information security was not a serious concern in Canada in the 1970s. Yes, there were hackers at that time as well, but a majority of the cyber attacks were more for bragging rights rather than personal gains. At that time, information security was handled by the quintessential geek who did his / her job quietly. And their job was not exactly demanding. The focus of information security in the 70s was to configure the technical measures in software and hardware rather than protect and maintain data integrity.

In a sense, the advent in 1999 of Melissa, a mass mailing macro virus changed all that. Melissa exploited the security loophole present in Microsoft Outlook and sent infected mails to the first few entries in a user’s address book. Since there were no real security measures available at that time, the virus wrecked havoc on Exchange servers, crippling many of them for a long time. Melissa highlighted the fact that the world was not quite ready to tackle the threat posed by cyber hackers. At that point of time, information / cyber security was handled only by in-house people, who were few and far between. Secondly, no one had dealt with such kind of a threat before. This virus threat therefore resulted in a veritable chaos. The techies had to address not only the woes of their own personnel, but also face media and legal teams. The lessons learnt from this initial virus threat resulted in the rise of information security service providers. In other words, information security as a serious profession in Canada really took roots in the 2000’s. 

Since the first mass attack, cyber attackers have only grown in force. Phishing, spamming, malware and their elk have become the order of the day. While individuals can make do with a single anti-virus software and (maybe) a firewall, it is not so for organizations. If precision data in an organization is compromised due to as security breach, they are responsible for it. Many times, stock exchanges, credit cards issues, e-mail service providers and banks hold precious personal data. Any breach in the personal data can result in a serious loss to the individual concerned. As laws in U.S., Canada, Europe and other parts of the world become stringent, information security is becoming more and more critical. It is important to note that in the modern organization, information security is not only restricted to information technology department, the management and the legal teams are also an integral part of it. 

Information security now focuses on the protection of information and preserving its confidentiality, integrity and availability. 

Many organizations do not have the necessary resources to manage all the intricacies of handling information security in-house. They prefer to outsource it to an information security service provider for two simple reasons:

i. it allows them to concentrate on their core competencies
ii. it reduces the tedium of keeping up with ever changing legal compliances

‘Security’ means mitigating risks from any threat or intruders. In the field of information technology, security means protection of valuable data.  For an organization, security is achieved by means of strategic synergies between various departments and teams. A good information security service provider ensures that each strategy is properly planned, organized and executed. 

The role of security service providers include looking after:

  • Communications security: the protection of all communications media, technology and content
  • Information / cyber security: the protection of all data and all processing systems. Also, the protection of tangible computer assets
  • Network security: taking care of security in the connected computers within the organization, data networking components and connections.

The Roles of an Information Security Service Provider:

As mentioned above, cyber / information security is gaining traction and organizations prefer to hire external service providers to handle it. Here are a few points that the information security team has to handle:

  • Access Control: Technologies and administration, including the most current requirements for the updated laws. Security service providers set proper hierarchy for accessing valuable data 
  • Telecommunications and Network Security: addressing the security concerns of the internet, intranet and extranet. Ensuring that unauthorized personnel do not access restricted areas
  • Information Security and Risk Management: organizational culture, preparing for a security audit and the risks of social media
  • Application Security: tackling threats created by malware, adware, spyware, etc. Incorporating security into the development process. 
  • Choice of Technology: Identifying technologies that are not as vulnerable as others and building on them
  • Security Design and Architecture: principles of design, including zones of trust
  • Cryptography: studying and implementing newer and better algorithms to maintain data integrity
  • Operations Security: analysis of Events and breach of security, if any
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning: what actions to take in case there is a serious breach of security in the organization
  • Legal Compliances: keeping abreast with latest legal compliances 
  • Physical Security: essential aspects of physical security in including safety of machines, cables, laptops, servers, etc.
To secure these information assets from cyber threats, companies demand an information security expert to have in-depth knowledge of next generation technologies. Not only must the service providers be able to secure everything from a simple e-mail system to a complex enterprise level application, the personnel must also keep themselves updated with the latest threats and developments in the information security field. They must learn to manage the use of information assets properly and support the goals and objects of the organization they are working for by means of correct information security governance, effective risk management and proper regulatory compliance.

Information Security Providers in Canada

Use of information technology is on the rise in Canada. More and more people as well as companies are going online, in a bid to become more efficient. Ontario, Quebec and other Canadian provinces are becoming important information and communication technology centers. As with other parts of the world, companies in Canada are facing an increase in cyber security threats. On the one hand, the hackers have sophisticated resources to infiltrate online systems, ranging from a simple website to a complex ERP system, while on the other hand most companies do not have adequate resources to deal with such security threats. As a result, more and more companies are outsourcing their information security requirements to specialized providers. Such information security service providers have a high degree of expertise and the experience to deal with the threat posed by hackers and cyber criminals. 

Cloud computing, mobile banking, digital wallets – all current innovations provide a sea of opportunities to cyber criminals and hackers. The role of information security service providers in Canada is going to be very crucial in the future!