The top LAN security issues in a client-server network environment

In this Q&A, network security expert Mike Chapple lays out four of the biggest LAN security threats.

When it comes to a client/server network environment, what are the top LAN security issues?

Thank you for the opportunity to get on a soapbox and preach about what I perceive to be the biggest threats to network security. Let's take a look at my top four issues:

  1. Failure to properly configure firewalls. Firewalls are a staple of the network security diet. In a good network design, an enterprise should protect its systems with both network and host firewalls. However, all too often those firewalls are not properly configured and may even be disabled for "temporary" testing that never seems to be finished. Failing to properly configure firewalls creates a foothold for the exploitation of other vulnerabilities.
  2. Failure to authenticate network users. Are you really sure who is on your network? It's a good idea to use some form of authentication technology, such as 802.1x, to ensure that devices connecting to your network are associated with an authorized user.
  3. Use of weak (or no) wireless encryption. Believe it or not, many enterprises still use WEP encryption to "protect" their networks. As I mentioned in an earlier article, WEP encryption is fundamentally flawed and should never be relied upon to secure a wireless network. Use WPA encryption instead.
  4. Failure to patch. Everyone knows that it's important to apply vendor security patches to systems and applications. But not everyone does. In fact, a recent study showed that many Oracle administrators have never applied patches to their systems. This is a bad idea, as hackers keep a close eye on security bulletins, looking for exploitable flaws.

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This was last published in October 2008

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