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Integrated Security in an Open World

Integrated Security in an Open World

Feb 27, 2007
Mary Hobson
Technology Schools Columnist

As an Internet user, you know that security is an issue that affects everyone. Everybody deals with worms and viruses, spam and phishing, at some time in their computing lives. Most of us do this by purchasing virus protection software, and applying it to our machines as we see fit.

Systems Security Should be Designed In

However, this is not the best answer to the problem, especially if you are a commercial organization that deals with complex IT systems. Security needs to be built into a system from the start, preferably into its component products. Tacking it on at the end leaves holes in the necessary overall protection. As the boundaries of systems are becoming more opaque and difficult to define, this is a failing strategy.

The open systems that are the product of increasing Internet use mean that organizational boundaries cannot be defined, much less policed. The Jericho Forum, a technology group, is in the process of developing a different approach to computer systems security.

The Forum has formed a number of workgroups to study computer systems security in a "de-perimiterized world." They examine technology and standards, trust models, management and monitoring. The strategies that are emerging from the Forum can be described as "fireproof tunnels" for information. In other words the information is protected from its inception to its deletion, and in whatever environments it needs to travel.

So what will all this mean to you? First, don't throw away your firewalls. You will, over time, notice a marked decrease in the volume of threats to your software and data. You may notice that it's easier to move data between applications both inside and outside your own systems.

Second, think about how you can get involved. If you're looking for a career on the cutting edge, computer and network security is a smart choice. With constantly changing technology, new people and ideas will always be needed, making this industry a secure and fast-growing one. Consider a degree in information technology or computer security, and see where it takes you.


About the Author

Mary Hobson is Head of the IT School at a Polytechnic in New Zealand. She has also worked as an executive officer in a defense facility and as a university lecturer in computer science and management information.