Fleet News

Move Your Fleet Online conference: security alert as more fleets use the internet

THE Move Your Fleet Online conference, hosted by Fleet News/Fleet NewsNet, in association with the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and sponsored by Inchcape Fleet Solutions, tackled the key issues employers face when managing their vehicles via the web.

British business has to adopt a new approach to online security as more companies consider introducing web-based fleet management systems.

With many employees now able to access email from their desktops and look at the internet for fleet-related activities, such as booking rental vehicles or checking leasing rates, the potential for a catastrophic virus attack on a business has rocketed.

Hywel Houghton-Jones, head of purchasing at the Nationwide Building Society, told delegates at the Move Your Fleet Online conference that online security could not be ignored for fleets using the web to do business.

In a talk sponsored by Inchcape Fleet Solutions, he warned: 'The biggest danger to any company's computer security is the uninformed user, who engages in risky behaviour, using infected disks and not changing passwords regularly.

'Email attachments are a favourite delivery method for attackers and outdated software, or failing to update virus protection software, means that attackers will be more able to get at your systems.'

A significant number of the delegates at the event admitted that viruses had targeted their businesses and their home computers. With many fleet drivers working at both home and the office, simply protecting business computers from attacks is not enough.

Employees bringing work in with them on disk could easily transfer a virus from a home computer to a business system.

Houghton-Jones said: 'Information needs to be secure from unauthorised access or disclosure. For a bank in particular, where security is paramount, this applies to all information written, spoken or transmitted.'

He said policies must be supported by company chiefs and all line managers, while an action plan to deal with attacks swiftly has to be imposed, which would include shutting down all business communications immediately to isolate any suspected attacks.

Michael Beet, sales director of Inchcape Fleet Solutions, which also sponsored the conference, said: 'We are entering a new era of services on demand. Online service is inevitable and unavoidable and it will require substantial investment in the industry. Online services are the future and how well we support the customer will decide your company's success in the future.'

The threats

  • DDoS Attacks (Distributed Denial of Service)
    Compromised systems inundate a site with requests, overwhelming its capacity
  • Malicious website
    Damages your computer when pages are loaded
  • Trojan Horse
    Malicious code that attacks systems from within
  • Virus
    Code that infects files or applications and sets off chain of events, such as wiping the computer's hard disk. Can also tell your email system to send virus to your entire email address to spread damage
  • Worm
    A file or piece of code that replicates itself, consuming the system

    The solutions

  • Download security updates
  • Use common sense when downloading files
  • Don't 'talk' to strangers
  • When in doubt – deny
  • Scan your computer for viruses at work and at home
  • Protect your passwords

    Virus is still affecting major company a year down the line

    A MAJOR plc has been suffering the after-effects of a virus for more than a year because of employee ignorance.

    A spokesman for the firm, who asked not to be named, said: 'We had already been hit by the 'I Love You' virus, which shut down the business for three days, so employees were told not to open emails from people they didn't know. However, every desktop has open access to the internet and a virus containing the message 'When I saw this I thought of you' made it through our firewall. Despite the warning, many staff opened it. It immediately wiped important files and sent itself to everyone on the employees' email address book.

    'The most annoying thing is that despite repeated warnings over the past year, the same rogue emails are still being opened by staff and threatening our systems.'

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