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The sites and newsletters that carry the latest security information

By now I'm sure everyone in the class will have taken care of the basics of IT security in their business from the simple things like anti-virus software, a firewall and regular updates to the more complicated stuff like secure remote email access and good staff policies.

So you think you're safe? Well don't relax yet. The problem with protecting computer systems today is that the enemy is not a teenage hacker in a darkened bedroom. It's hardcore organised crime. To put it bluntly, they want your money. They are the dotcom entrepreneurs of crime.

Emerging threats

Quote�Like any entrepreneur they are constantly looking for new markets and new products.�End Quote

Like any entrepreneur they are constantly looking for new markets and new products. This means that they are constantly finding new and inventive ways to attack computer systems. In addition, the relentless pace of new technology development means that there are always new programs and systems for them to exploit.

While most home users can feel reasonably safe with the basics, business users (and especially small businesses without their own techies) need to stay informed about new threats and how to deal with them.

Get the information

Sometimes it is only a matter of hours between a vulnerability being discovered and an attack being launched so timely information is vital. There are several ways to get this information in a way that is designed for regular people rather than uber-geeks:

Sign up for free alerts from HM Government's own alerting and warning service: ITSafe. They will send you an email if a new problem emerges and even a text message if the problem is critical. Although the site design is somewhat lacklustre, don't be put off - the service draws on the substantial expertise of the Government's National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre.

The US Department of Homeland Security's US-CERT site puts out regular alerts and warnings and has an RSS feed as well as a mailing list.

The Dutch government has the coolest site but although they have an English version of the website, the alerts are only available in Dutch.

Microsoft has a range of email newsletters about security.

The company that makes your anti-virus software will probably have an email newsletter that will keep you updated on the latest in the virus wars.

Look into WARPs (Warning Advice and Reporting Points). These allow small communities of people and organisations to share IT security related information and get custom-filtered alerts. Typically these groups are in a related field. For example there are WARPs for local authorities. You can also set one up yourself if there isn't one in your field.

What next?

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