Security expert's one word of advice: basics

Security expert's one word of advice: basics

In the film 'The Graduate,' Mr. McGuire's one word of advice is 'plastics.' Ira Winkler's one word for government systems managers is 'basics.'

Winkler, the security guru in Hewlett-Packard Co.'s consulting group, came to Washington yesterday to preach the basics mantra and to counter what he called 'the hype of homeland security.'

'All the vulnerabilities have been known for 15 years,' Winkler said. 'All software has security bugs, but most people don't even know patches exist.'

Doing a great job on the basics of computer and network security isn't dramatic''it's not a good movie,' Winkler said. Such basics include scrupulous password management, privileges administration, patch installation and security planning, plus training for people who handle systems.

Instead, the government proposes hundreds of millions of dollars for research and a so-called Cyber Corps. 'The government is ignoring a decade of basic problems,' he said.

If agencies gave computer networks the same degree of ordinary maintenance and protection as they do automobile fleets, Winkler said, systems administrators would spend boring days reading access logs, 'picking and choosing among denied attacks.'

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