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December 2004

Boost worm defense with security compartmentalization

I recently attended a presentation in which a senior security admin described how his company was redesigning its network into a group of cooperating subnetworks with light firewalls and routers. He called it "compartmentalization." I was impressed with the concept's elegance and potential effectiveness. In fact, I was impressed the first time I encountered it back in the '80s. It's one of the core tenets of security, along with least privilege and defense-in-depth. It seems that compartmentalization may be getting a new lease on life, and we have worms to thank for it. Malware is forcing enterprises to pull their heads out of the sand and take a hard look at the trade-offs that come with increased connectivity, which means factoring survivability into network designs alongside performance, reliability and cost. Typically, IT managers and network designers have been reluctant to compartmentalize because they believe it requires more management and increases initial infrastructure costs. This is true in the short term. However, ...

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