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Securing the Nearly Unsecurable

Taking employees off the network demonstrates another difficult problem with the Internet. The Internet is about as private as talking on a subway platform; you can never be sure who's eavesdropping. And because of costs of support and vulnerability, some groups are satisfied in being unconnected.

Products that offer security and privacy are increasing in number. You can expect more. The number of eavesdroppers, crackers, and network perpetrators will increase as well. Costs to protect web sites have already exceeded the costs of e-commerce and a web presence. Strangely, this isn't driving away even the small product supplier. This may be due to either not getting the whole picture (web-presence vendors are notorious for this) or "be there or be left behind" mentality. Either way, companies are starting to see the bills come due.

Some small businesses have turned to an alternative—the equivalent of Internet conglomerates (or i-conglomerates). These conglomerates present the storefront for several companies as a single storefront.

Driven by costs and security, i-conglomerates piggyback their services on some other company or host. This is not host-server. Instead, it's a single web service or site that markets the products for the external companies, using the client companies' banners and pages—similar to the way Wal-Mart sells products from several companies while using their displays. These can be competing or compatible products. (As you might expect, some "e-service desks" of the i-conglomerates do more finger pointing than problem solving when a dissatisfied customer comes knocking.)

Security may appear more in these i-conglomerates in the future, but for now, security products are, fortunately, growing in number. Still, Netizens—both the corporate and the individual—should concern themselves with the prospect of product darwinization (merge, consolidate, evolve, or emerge as a single product). A consolidated security solution may be the worst option. Like having several locks with only one key, the darwinization of network security products may open the network to the greatest security risk. Once one site is cracked, they're all cracked. Consider: The industry has witnessed time and again the attacks on Microsoft's servers and products. Just recently, one of the default components in Microsoft IIS presented a very significant vulnerability. Again, if the industry continues to increase the use of convergent technologies, when a cyber-perp cracks a single site, he or she cracks all like sites.

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