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Should the government reduce its external Internet connections?

Is the federal government's plan to reduce its number of external Internet connections from 8,000 to fewer than 100 a feasible one? What security risks are increased with such a move?

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Last summer, the federal government announced a plan to gradually reduce its number of Internet connections to less than 100 in an attempt to reduce their susceptibility to attack. Yes, it certainly is a feasible move, and it's a lesson that every enterprise should take to heart.

The fewer external points of access there are on a network, the easier it is to secure the network against external attack. Each connection, which should require a properly configured firewall, introduces one more door that a malicious hacker could break down, so to speak.

As far as security risks, I can only think of one: the introduction of more consolidated single points of failure. That is, if one connection fails, a larger portion of the government will be affected by the outage. However, this availability concern is easily overshadowed by the security improvements gained by reducing the complexity of the network.

Still, through the judicious use of connection sharing and VPN links between sites, it's possible -- and recommended -- for enterprises to consolidate external network connections to a manageable number.

More information:

  • See why some House legislators have ripped the cyberinitiative plan.
  • This was first published in February 2009

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