|These tools allow for centralized analysis
and control of network systems.
The Roman Empire had a security management problem. As powerful as it was, it didn’t have the resources to monitor and enforce security throughout the entire European continent. Invaders attacked the weak points and slowly worked their way inward. As a result, Rome fell.
Is your network starting to feel like an empire? As your network grows, it also becomes much harder to manage. Problems in some of the least significant machines can eventually turn into network-threatening situations if they’re not duly managed. Don’t underestimate the seriousness or difficulty of this resource problem; after all, it stumped the most powerful civilization in history.
The key difference between large empires and large networks (as far as this book is concerned) is that modern network systems are designed with remote management in mind.1 This means that a single central station can control thousands of network devices, workstations, and servers across an entire enterprise. Everything from simple status reports to complex software installations can be done from one place. Technical security policies can be implemented and monitored with ease. Built-in analysis systems can create reports for management.
Centralized network monitoring systems use various techniques to connect to your equipment. For example, the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is a commonly used system that enables network devices to be remotely monitored, controlled, and configured. It’s not standard, but most network hardware and operating systems support SNMP.
Unfortunately, SNMP is neither powerful nor secure enough to manage certain complex devices such as routers and firewalls. These systems often have their own remote command interfaces so that control center applications can talk directly to the devices.
Software and services running on your network also have to be monitored and managed. Many control center applications can monitor common software such as Web and email services. However, actively managing these systems is a much more complex task because nonstandard software has already been dominating this environment. It’s difficult, verging on impossible, for the creators of command centerproducts to incorporate compatibility with each of the thousands of network applications on the market.
Integrating with modern command center applications takes an unusual mix of knowledge that spans a number of distinctly different fields. That’s a major reason to hire consultants to create interfaces for old, nonstandard, and custom systems. Hiring consultants is naturally more common with larger, enterprise-wide networks, due to the prevalence of incompatible hardware and software.
The above information is the start of a chapter in "Network Security Illustrated," published by McGraw-Hill and available from amazon.com, as well as your local bookstore. The book goes into much greater depth on this topic. To learn more about the book and what it covers, click here.
Below, you'll find links to online resources that supplement this portion of the book.