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April 2002

Access control issues: The unsolvable problem

Nineteenth-century satirist Ambrose Bierce once defined history as "a recording of mistakes we make so we shall know when we make them again." This couldn't be truer when it comes to computer security. As we have moved from mainframe to client/ server to peer-to-peer networks, security has come full circle on the thorny issue of access control. Back in the '70s, access control to classic mainframes was defined by physical security. If you could walk up to the card reader and plop down a deck of punched cards, you could run a program. By and large, the data and program were altogether on those cards. With the advent of timesharing came the need for the operating system to separate the data from the code. However, this wasn't engineered with a great degree of efficiency. Largely, we relied on mainframe applications to manage access control. This meant access control was revisited, redesigned and re-implemented with every application. Well, it didn't take very long for smart people to realize that this was a pretty dumb idea. In ...

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Features in this issue

  • Becky Bace: The IDS security den mother

    by  Richard Thieme

    Former NSA employee and "den mother of computer security" Becky Base built an impressive and successful career that has undeniably influenced the industry.

  • Four computer forensics books worth investigating

    by  Gary C. Kessler & Michael Schirling

    Check out four computer forensics books that can help you learn the ins and outs of computer forensics technology and laws in place to manage cybercrime.

  • Do's and don'ts of building a forensics workstation

    by  Elizabeth A. Genco

    Elizabeth Genco explains the pros and cons of building a forensics workstation from scratch. Read now to learn what forensic tools are beneficial and which ones aren't.

Columns in this issue

  • Secure reads: Wireless Security

    by  Randall K. Nichols & Panos C. Lekkas

    Wireless Security offers a detailed overview of wireless security topics and covers big-picture characteristics of today's wireless security technologies.

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