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January 2002

Gateway filtering and server hardening: Security sans user complaints

We all know that security is inversely proportional to convenience. And, we know from experience that security is secondary to users' ability to get to the information and services they need. Users' apathy and ignorance is the reason why we spend more of our time responding to security problems than ensuring that our infrastructures are as secure as possible. Making a network secure requires technical finesse and user cooperation. Overcoming technical obstacles is nothing in comparison to defeating the roadblocks erected by inconvenienced users. If security ever gets in the way of them doing what they want, we're sure to hear about it. How can you improve security without upsetting the masses? Think about the boiling frog parable. As the story goes, if you try to put a frog in a pan of boiling water, it will jump right out. But, put a frog in a pan of cool water and gradually raise the temperature, and the frog will happily swim around -- his temperature adjusting up -- until he's boiled alive. This is what we want to do with ...

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