The Weakest Link
Why is it drug addicts and computer aficionados
are both called users?
At the user end of our networks are typically workstations (or personal computers). Over the years, workstations have evolved first to supplement mainframe computer terminals (dumb terminals) and then to replace them. Few companies still employ dumb terminals. PC-based workstations have become so inexpensive that they can be found all across companies performing a wide range of functions. And, from a business continuity point of view, this is exactly the problem.
Mainframe computers centralized computing power and also centralized data storage. To view data stored by a mainframe required a password, and data files had various levels of security to protect them. Important data were stored in a central location, making backing up the data relatively easy. But a problem with mainframes was that programmers could never keep up with demands for their services. Personal computers, along with their easy-to-use programs, gradually migrated this capability to the individual’s desk (hence the “personal” in Personal Computing). As this occurred, all the environmental, electrical, and physical security protections that are provided for the backroom mainframes were no longer available to the workstations and the data residing in them. You’ve got a problem!
In discussing critical workstations, keep in mind that servers (specialized systems optimized for storage speed and other services) located outside the protection of the computer room are always considered critical units and must be protected as such.