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Reminder: The Web is not the only source of malware

Since Aspen, Colo., adopted  the OpenDNS cloud-based service to filter Web content and enforce policies, browser infections have dropped to almost nothing, said John Sobieralski, network coordinator for the city and for Pitkin County. But don’t be fooled into thinking the Web is the only source of malware.

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“Don’t get rid of your antivirus,” Sobieralski said.

OpenDNS Enterprise Insights provides filtering and blocking of suspicious and malicious sites and content, but it does not look for or block all malware in a system.

“It’s a pretty good shield,” he said of the service. “But it is one layer of security. You need a lot of different layers.”

Web or browser-based attacks, in which a malicious or a compromised website is used to deliver malware to a browser, are among the top threats, spurred in large part by the rapid growth in Web applications. Many activities that were once done on a computer or a local network are now done through a Web interface, and any time the browser connects to a suspect site, vulnerabilities can be exploited.

Identifying and blocking these sites is important, but they are only one means of delivering exploits. Intrusions, e-mail, mobile media and other external devices can be malware vectors, and a basic level of anti-malware protection and intrusion prevention and detection is needed is needed to guard against them.

Aspen is a small city with fewer than 7,000 permanent residents with limited resources to devote to network security, and the real benefit of the OpenDNS service is in making the most of those resources, Sobieralski said. “For us, it’s almost like the equivalent of a full-time employee. We don’t have the resources to monitor the network constantly. It saves us a lot of time and effort.”

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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