THINKING ABOUT NETWORK SECURITY in Software

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THINKING ABOUT NETWORK SECURITY
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Before delving into the administrative activities discussed in this chapter, you should spend some time thinking about network security and how it relates to your specific company Network security is an important subject, and administering a server must be predicated on maintaining appropriate security for your network The key here is to remember that every network has an appropriate level of security The security requirements for a Department of Defense (DoD) contractor who designs military equipment will be different from the security requirements for a company that operates restaurants The important thing, therefore, is first to determine the appropriate security needs of your network Many beginning network administrators forget this important fact and set up their networks to follow the strongest security measures available The problem with this approach is that these measures almost always reduce the productivity of people using the network You need to strike a balance between productivity and security, and the answer will be different for every company For example, Windows 2000 Server enables you to set various security policies that apply to users These include forcing password changes at intervals you specify, requiring that passwords be of a certain minimum length, causing new passwords always to be unique and no reuses of old passwords, and so on You could set up these policies to require passwords that are at least 20 characters long and must be changed weekly If users don t resort to writing down their passwords so they can remember them from week to week, these settings would be more secure than shorter, less-frequently changed passwords A 20-character-long password is virtually impossible to crack using standard methods, and weekly password changes reduce the chance that someone else will discover a user s password and be free to use it for an extended period of time The problem with policies this strict, however, is that users will frequently forget their passwords, be locked out of the system for periods of time, and require a lot of help from the network administrator (you!) to clear up these problems each time they occur For a DoD contractor, these trade-offs may be worthwhile For the restaurant operator, however, they would be inappropriate and would end up hurting the company more than they help it So, the point to remember is that network security should always be appropriate to the company and its specific network, and that it is important to define appropriate security levels early on and to get the necessary support from management for the trade-offs you think appropriate
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Administering Windows 2000 Server: The Basics
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A related point is this: Sometimes security that is too strong results in reduced security over the long run, at least for certain things For example, in the preceding example with the frequently changing, 20-character-long passwords, you can be assured that a large percentage of users will have to write down their passwords so they can remember them and gain access to the system The problem here, of course, is that a written password is far less secure than one that is remembered, because someone else can find the written password and bypass security easily after doing so The final point and the reason you should pay attention to this subject before learning about administration is that you should determine the appropriate network security early, so that you can allow for it as you administer the network on a daily basis Network security doesn t have to take up much of your time, provided you set up your administrative procedures so they presuppose the level of security you require For example, if you know what your password policies will be on the network, it takes only a few seconds to ensure that each new user has those policies set for their account If you know that you maintain a paper-based log of changes to security groups in the network, then it takes only a second to follow this procedure as you change group membership occasionally Failing to determine these security practices and policies early on will result in having to undertake much larger projects as part of a security review or audit Security is an area where you re much better off doing things right the first time!
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