Network Intrusion – An Allegory

By Rich Loeber

I have shared before that we live in the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York.  When most people think about New York, they don’t think much farther than New York City, but New York contains some beautiful and very wild locales and we live in the heart of one.  Our home is located on a large lake and my wife and I fell in love with our place the first time we saw it.

One of the key features of our place is a sandy beach.  A few days after we moved in, we got up in the morning to find a small flock of Canada Geese on the lawn and thought what beautiful birds these were.  After a few days of this, and a walk down to the beach area, our opinion of these geese headed downhill fast.  We were under an intrusion attack and needed to do something about it to protect our beach from the mess that the geese were creating.

Our first attempts at intrusion protection were simple, we just ran outside waving our arms and chased the geese off the beach.  They swam out on the lake a little way and then waited until we got tired and headed back inside.  Within minutes, they were back on the beach and we were right back where we started.  I then got the bright idea of leaving a “presence” on the beach to ward the birds off.  The next time I went out, I planted a broom on the beach and the geese did not return …. until the next day.

A friend told us that Canada Geese are afraid of owls and that a lot of locals reported good results from owl statues.  I search the Internet and found a garden supply house that sold inexpensive owl statues expressly for this purpose.  They even said that this particular owl species was feared by Canada Geese.  Our owl arrived a week later and with much anticipation, I put it up on the beach.  The next day, the geese were back huddled right around the owl.

Then, quite by accident, we found a solution that worked quite well.  We found that when we used a lawn sprinkler near the beach, the geese did not like it and stayed away.  So, we left the sprinkler out on the lawn and whenever we saw geese on the beach or swimming our way, we turned on the sprinkler and watched them head away.  After a few weeks of this, some of the geese found that they could avoid the sprinkler by going around it at the edge of the coverage area and we had to reposition the sprinkler to adjust.  But, the sprinkler technology was clearly one that worked.  The only problem with it was that it would not work when we were not at home.  It required direct intervention to repel an intrusion.  When we traveled away from home, we would come back and find the beach a mess.  If we just left the sprinkler on all the time, the yard would get soaked and we ended up with beach erosion. A better solution was still needed.

Last year, I think the problem was finally been solved.  I found a supplier who makes a motion sensor activated sprinkler!  As soon as I saw these on the web, I bought two of them at a very  reasonable price and waited for spring to try them out.  Two weeks into the season, after some early intrusions by the returning Canada Goose population, I deployed the motion activated sprinklers.  Since then, we have not seen a single goose on our lawn.

So, what does this have to do with computer intrusion protection?

Lessons learned from this exercise in our yard show me the importance of first knowing what is going on in your network.  If you don’t keep track, you’ll never know what’s going on in your yard.  You could be getting attacked on a regular basis and never know it.  Second, you need to find the solution that is right for you.  Not every intrusion situation is going to be the same (we have neighbors two houses away who never have a problem with geese, but frequently have bears getting into their trash).  Listen to recommendations from friends and associates, but do your research.  In my situation, I have left the owl statue in place as a constant reminder that some solutions are just dumb.  Lastly, once you have a solution, fine tune it.  Don’t be satisfied until you know that the solution is always working and achieving your objectives.  Keep up to date on developments in technology that you might use for your situation.  Stay current.  If you have a software solution, keep it current as your vendor releases updates.

If you are vigilant, you will be rewarded with a clean network.  In my case, I am looking forward to having a nice clean yard and beach area this summer.

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to reach me at rich at kisco.com,  I’ll try to answer your questions.  All email messages will be answered.

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