Safe and secure — how KVM solutions can improve cyber-security efforts
Safe and secure — how KVM solutions can improve cyber-security efforts

The increasing prevalence and publicity associated with cyber-attacks on large businesses and organisations is an international concern. Over the course of 2017, cyber-crime grew at such a rapid rate that it has now become an issue that all businesses should be continually monitoring and managing.

Just last year we saw attacks from lone individuals cripple huge organisations and institutions, including the NHS in the UK and pharmaceutical company Merck in the US, each of which has proved no business is safe from the threat.

As a result, governments and businesses are seeking elevated cyber-defence strategies to stay protected and minimise risk of a security breach. The problem in today's cyber-security-conscious environment, however, lies in optimising workflows while also protecting data and intellectual property from both internal and external threats. This is of significant concern for industries including security, transport and film, where the data they hold on their systems is often highly confidential and therefore desirable to cyber criminals.

Of course, the measures implemented by each business will differ according to its individual requirements. While some might encourage employees to regularly change and update their passwords, others might look to implement powerful firewalls through their systems. Although these measures will help to protect businesses and secure important data, they are only the very first steps in the race towards cyber-security compliance.

Beyond these initial steps in reducing risk of an attack, or the impact following an attack, businesses can take a more comprehensive approach to cyber-security by considering the role of KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) solutions in their infrastructure. As an additional layer that sits on top of a business' infrastructure, KVM solutions are often seamlessly integrated within the workflows and processes of employees, and can deliver numerous benefits to improve the overall security of a working environment.  

KVM solutions allow users to access and switch between multiple computers, networks and applications from a single, remote location and are integral to the workflows of many businesses. Importantly, KVM solutions are particularly prevalent in mission-critical environments such as command and control rooms where they give operators quick access to the right information from anywhere at any time.

A primary feature of KVM extension technology is the ability to move all physical computers away from the working environment and into a dedicated, secure external room, such as a rack-mounted server room, and separating secure networks from unsecured networks — a process referred to as ‘air-gapping'. Not only does this free up more space for operators, this can be done with no disruption to the operation and performance of the computers themselves. In fact, situating the machines in an optimal environment often improves their lifespans.

Similarly, the anonymity of the physical machines also makes it far more difficult for external criminals to successfully break-in and steal the equipment.

Finally, another important feature that can be achieved through KVM — and a reason why it's important to think about secure KVM solutions rather than single KVM products — is controlled USB access. This means that businesses can limit the USB privileges of certain users, which reduces the likelihood of intellectual property being compromised, or systems being exploited by malicious third-party software. 

For example, a business might choose to give full USB access to a reliable full-time employee who works within the IT department, while also deciding to limit the access of another user who might only be working on a six-week work placement and could perhaps be considered less trustworthy than someone who's worked there for years. 

Conclusion

Cyber-attacks are on the rise and can cause ominous damage to businesses. It is therefore crucial that all preventative measures are taken to minimise risk of a potential breach. Employing KVM systems with traditional security measures can improve the wider cyber-security efforts of a business. With so many hackers dedicated to developing their security skills, it is vital that KVM systems are not overlooked from a security perspective.

Contributed by John Halksworth, senior product manager, Adder Technology. 

*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media UK or Haymarket Media.

By John Halksworth, senior product manager, Adder Technology