Raising the red flag on Web 2.0

Security professionals are raising the red flag on the increasing pervasiveness of Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise, saying that while it offers the benefit of rich applications, the risks associated with Web 2.0 can no longer be overlooked.

The move towards Web 2.0 technologies may well be another race between functionality and security, and for now at least, security seems to be at the tail end.

Security professionals are raising the red flag on the increasing pervasiveness of Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise, saying that while it offers the benefit of rich applications, the risks associated with Web 2.0 can no longer be overlooked.

In the enterprise, for instance, a Web 2.0-enabled architecture involves applications built as Web services that provide cross-platform access and functionalities for users. "Like submitting a record to a database or changing a piece of data (for example)," says Oliver Lavery, a consultant with Toronto-based IT security firm Security Compass.

"The problem is that what's being exposed there are very detailed, technical procedure calls -- Web service calls -- using all these new technologies that haven't really been tested and [the industry doesn't] have a lot of experience securing them," Lavery says.

The increasing use of these new tools, without proper understanding of the security issues that may arise as a result, is giving attackers new avenues to explore, says Lavery.

Web 2.0-enabled social networking sites present another attack vector for the bad guys, as well. Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook have allowed people to actively interact and connect in real-time in ways they have never been able to before.

On the surface, the Web 2.0 craze may seem like a consumer phenomenon. But many security experts agree that its pervasiveness is going beyond people's homes and into the workplace, as employees access these sites from their office computer.

"The most dangerous part of any computer system are the people who run it," says University of Calgary professor Tom Keenan.

The use of mobile devices, like laptops that typically travel back and forth between the home and office, is not helping the situation either, added Keenan, who is also the IT security spokesperson for the Canadian Information Processing Society.

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