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Connecting the Wires

Legal concerns aren't the only issues that influence your choice on where to locate your computers. If network bandwidth were free, ubiquitous, reliable, and secure, the location of computers would technically not matter. However, bandwidth isn't free. While the industry has made great strides, we still have a long way to go. We have the public Internet, which is ubiquitous and cheap, but it's far from a corporate-quality network.

It's one thing to rely on the Internet for Web sites and email. As a corporate network infrastructure, however, both its security and reliability can sorely disappoint. Network security breaches are escalating in both number and complexity. CERT says that more than 76,000 security incidents were reported in the first half of 2003 and are on track to grow 600% from 2000 levels.

Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks are of particular concern because, even without compromising your security, a malicious individual can bring an Internet location to its knees. This can be particularly painful if it is a key component of your corporate network.

This type of attack is effective because the Internet is composed of limited and consumable resources and Internet security is highly interdependent. DoS attacks use multiple systems to attack one or more victim systems with the intent of denying service to legitimate users. The degree of automation in attack tools enables a single attacker to install his tools and control tens of thousands of compromised systems for use in attacks. Intruders often search address blocks known to contain high concentrations of vulnerable systems with high-speed connections. Intruders planning to install their attack tools increasingly target cable modem, DSL, and university address blocks.

Various other threats lurk on public network channels. Worms, viruses, and other malicious code can weasel their way into your system if it's not adequately protected. Inexpertly configured systems that your data might encounter on its way to its final destination pose another threat. You can suffer collateral damage due to a failure or an attack whose epicenter is hundreds or thousands of miles away.

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