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July 2003

Firewall checkup: Testing your firewall's health

When you go to the doctor for a physical, the procedure is fairly routine: the doc weighs you, takes your temperature, checks your blood pressure and pulse, looks in your ears, nose and throat, feels your lymph nodes, listens to your heart and lungs, and so on. Why are most physicals just like this? Because common medical problems are diagnosed through a standard, "low-tech" examination. While a checkup by itself may not lead to a concrete diagnosis, it will at least reveal symptoms that need closer examination. In cyberspace, your firewalls need routine checkups if they're to remain healthy. Like the human body, computer equipment ages with time and wear and tear. It's not enough to know that you correctly installed your firewall. You have to run it through a "firewall physical" to ensure it stays in tip-top shape. Here are six things to examine: Configuration files. No matter how tight you lock down your firewall during installation, all bets are off once it goes live. Your firewall security policy should dictate configuration...

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