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November 2003

Using control change management to improve attack resistance

We've barely recovered from the worm attacks led by Blaster this summer. Yet, by the time you read this, we may well be in the midst of the next malware disaster. Chances are we're no better prepared for the next assault, because our networks aren't properly partitioned and our operating systems are too frail to exist on a network connected to the Internet. Vendors say their widgets will protect us from the next attack. Former cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke calls this a "widget mentality" -- the assumption that a defense-in-depth with overlapping firewalls, IDSes, IPSes and content filters will somehow save us. It won't. Despite these cool technologies, our systems are still exploitable. Malware enters our networks through RAS modem pools, VPN tunnels, road-warrior laptops, open network shares, partner extranets and wireless access points. No single product or combination of security solutions can completely stop it. Partitioning our trusted network into security zones is one approach that enables us to prevent a worm ...

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