Securing a heterogeneous network with free software tools

Thursday, 5 September 2002, 10:00 AM EST

Security in computers networks is probably one of the biggest technology challenges of the 21st century.

However, like for many worrying fields, everybody talks about it, but the ones who should feel the most affected do not seem to have detected the scale of the potential disaster. The "most affected" of course, are the main software or system designers. The best example, once again, comes from Redmond, where security seems to be a word, at least much less "under control" than marketing, for instance.

Fortunately, the two last decades of the 20th century have seen the birth of Free Software and the philosophy going with it. If you "wish" to improve the security of your machines, your systems, your networks... this is where you will have to look for. The Free Software community has done much more about security than all the big software companies together.
That said, tools don't make it all, and securing a network, for instance, is an almost permanent job: new changes all the time!

This means you will never be able to say that a network is 100% secure. You can only reduce the risks. What we show here, is only a small part of what you can do to limit these risks. After reading this special issue, you will know a bit more about security, but in no way will you be able to say that your network is secure. You have been warned.

Last but not least: such an article can't be exhaustive. There is a lot of literature on the matter and it is far from having gone round the problem. Accordingly, don't expect from this article to mention everything, as far as OSes, tools, configuration, use... are concerned.

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