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March Madness? More like March Malware-ness

We know March Madness is here because our phones are ringing with security leaders on the other end, asking us to help them tweak their security policies for the next couple of weeks. It's during this time that the NCAA college basketball tournament dominates the calendar, with many of the games played between 9 and 5.

Of course, that means that many employees will be spending their work hours scouring the web for live streaming video or updated scores and news. And the bad guys will be standing by with bait in hand.

For them, March Madness means several weeks of opportunities to lure unsuspecting employees; plant malware on their companies' networks, applications and databases; and steal valuable data. Whether it's through compromising legitimate websites, poisoning search engine results or delivering phishing emails inviting employees to click on malicious links, these criminals are eagerly waiting to ring in their next victim.

So you'd think security leaders calling us would want help better locking down their security controls. And some do. But others seek our guidance to actually loosen the controls. After all, many companies hold office pools during the tournament, and the competition among colleagues results in increased camaraderie and morale.

Whether you're a security professional who is forced to embrace March Madness - or one who can't say "no" fast enough - it's essential to have technology in place that is designed to detect, block and filter out malware before it reaches the end user. And it doesn't have to be March for one to be worried about malware.

According to our recently released 2014 Security Pressures Report, which details the findings of a worldwide survey asking more than 800 full-time IT professionals about the pressures they face surrounding security, targeted malware topped the list of threats exerting pressure on them.

To defend against this threat, secure web gateway technologies can help protect against malware, zero-day vulnerabilities and data loss.

Another pressure point - especially during particularly threatening times like March Madness - is ensuring that organizations have enough manpower and skills on hand to monitor and ensure their technology is working properly and defending against the latest threats.

That's where managed security service providers (MSSPs) can help. MSSPs - on behalf of their customers - identify and analyze threats in real time. They also carefully study the activity and determine what should be blocked, what should be allowed and which security policies should remain in place or changed.

Here's to making it through March Madness, unscathed. Look at the bright side: Opening Day of baseball is just around the corner.