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The Security Breach

According to CNET Download.com, the KaZaA software was downloaded more than 2.6 million times in a single week. But could the KaZaA software really have caused damage? As it turned out, it could, because it used a programming technique that was both intrusive and dangerous. The spyware-Trojan component (called a DLDER) monitored web site URLs accessed by the user. For example, if the user accessed a web page in an intranet or a password-protected site that stored user info to the URL, the user could be passing this data in unencrypted form over the Internet to the software company—or anyone else they deemed appropriate.

The DLDER also had the capability to download .exe files over an unprotected Internet connection without any authentication, creating a possible security hole in the network, and thereby allowing for the loss of company or personal data, loss of personal privacy, and the theft of network resources.

Not good. This simple program is something you wouldn't want to have on the computers connected to your network.

But the threat of spyware becomes even worse in a virtual private network (VPN). Because VPNs provide inexpensive, cost-effective connectivity, corporations have adopted this technology en masse. Of the different types of VPNs, the use of remote access VPNs is increasing the most. But remote VPNs pose unique security threats to corporations. MIS departments are frequently unable to enforce security policies or to control the way users configure the machines used to access the VPN or the applications they download.

If employees working on remote VPNs keep sensitive materials on their PCs, these materials can be accessed by a wide range of spyware designed to steal corporate secrets. The most common security solutions employed by organizations, such as virus checkers, intrusion-protection packages, and firewalls, may guard against some of these attacks, they don't guard against the potentially damaging attacks from spyware.

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