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Information Technology Digest:
Stable Computer Environments
by Wolfgang Blauen, CISSP 
5. Network Security

In this article we will focus on security towards the public Internet. If your company utilizes the public Internet in any way shape or form then you are exposed to risk of a very diverse nature.

And no - this is not a “non-issue” for you Mac® users as a certain manufacturer would like you to believe!

The Internet is full of tools, toys and traps that are inadvertently invited into your environment by the simple use of the services they provide. “Cookies” are a very common and user platform independent threat. Pop-up ads are a nuisance that keeps all employees from staying focused on the task at hand and SPAM email is downloaded by Mac-based email programs just the same as by PC-based ones. Viruses and Trojans may primarily target the PC world but they, as well as internet worms, are getting smarter and are starting to propagate via platform independent mechanisms like Java classes and embedded browser functionality. And finally there is the so called “phishing” (not a typo) for personal information by the assailant utilizing official looking email solicitation to entice the receiver to click a link and log into “your XYZ bank’s account” re-directing the user to a look-alike dummy site that does nothing other than collect their login and password information and display a “temporarily unavailable” message.

Not only do you want to protect yourself from these attacks and distractions but you also want to keep some control around the access to your local data from the public Internet.

View it this way: Would you openly publish your financial records for the current year, including your bank account and security code for your credit cards, by hanging them in your shop’s front window? – Probably not. However, if you’re accessing the public Internet from a computer with no password protection and no network Firewall, that is the electronic equivalent of doing exactly such a posting.

To protect yourself, you can apply a fairly simple principal: “I will deny everything unless I explicitly allow it.” That’s what a firewall is intended to do. It denies access to your company network from the public Internet but it allows your network’s users to access what they need to on the Internet.

(read on ...) 

Copyright (c) 2008 by In Scope-Solutions, Inc. 

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