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January 2004

Understanding the Open Systems Interconnection model

We're running out of things that security technology can do without corresponding improvements in security behavior. Therefore, it's no accident that the center of gravity of the infosecurity profession is evolving away from a purely technical approach. This isn't just the latest swing of the pendulum between machines and people -- it's a change to a more mature mindset, giving us the conceptual tools we need to maximize reduction in risk at the minimum cost. We're moving up the stack, beyond the application layer, to the biological layers. The seven layers of the Open System Interconnection (OSI) model were never fully implemented, but the insight that this conceptual model brought to the understanding of networks has proven vital in analyzing and reducing information risk. Each layer is discrete, handshaking and interfacing with its matching counterpart layer across the network, and interfacing with the layers above it and below it on a networked system. Like a stack of Lego blocks, the functions operating at the various ...

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