It's easy to check Windows systems for vulnerabilities -- both as an untrusted outsider and an authenticated user. We tend to think the servers are "where it's at" and we end up focusing most of our attention and effort here. One thing's for sure: Never, ever underestimate the importance and criticality of seemingly harmless hosts and network systems -- including technologies and protocols that affect your overall security. This includes:
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- Voice over Internet Protocol.
- 802.11 and Bluetooth wireless.
- Software source code.
- Unstructured files scattered about the network.
- Development, QA and test systems.
Also, you'll never be able to say with conviction that you've tested for all security vulnerabilities unless and until you look at things on the business side. Operational security weaknesses that can lead to Windows hacks and other abuse include:
- Poorly managed user provisioning and passwords.
- Patching (or lack thereof).
- User NTFS rights assignments.
- Backups and media handling.
- Policy documentation and enforcement.
- Incident response and disaster recovery procedures.
Minimizing information risks means looking at everything -- soup to nuts.
Security assessments and five mistakes to avoid
Step 1: Relying on audit checklists and automated tools
Step 2: Not considering the side effects of your tests
Step 3: Not looking at the whole picture
Step 4: Spending too much time trying to fix everything
Step 5: Assuming testing once is enough
About the author: Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, speaker and expert witness with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. He has more than 19 years of experience in IT and specializes in performing information security assessments revolving around compliance and IT governance. Kevin has authored/co-authored six books on information security including Hacking For Dummies and Hacking Wireless Networks For Dummies (Wiley) as well asThe Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance (Auerbach). He's also the creator of the Security On Wheelsaudiobook series. You can reach Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org>.