Storage media have come a long way since floppies. A few years ago, the word terabyte was a mystical concept—a thousand gigabytes. Only serious data centers had
a terabyte of storage. The average desktop PC today comes with over 100 gigabytes on a single hard drive. Putting a terabyte worth of storage into a desktop PC has not
only become possible, but it can be done for less than a thousand dollars.
Simultaneously, removable storage is both increasing in capacity and decreasing in size. The latest flash memory technology can store a gigabyte on a device no bigger
than a postage stamp. Removable media could be made even smaller, but people might have a hard time holding it in their hands.
There wouldn’t be a need for larger storage systems if there weren’t demand for more space. The demand comes from high-resolution audio and video media, general file bloat, and applications that now require gigabytes of storage to install. Developers can count on continuously increasing storage and processor capacity. As a result, they design systems for flexibility, not efficiency. Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a perfect example. It’s essentially a database, but in a format
that is easy for people to read. Naturally, this is incredibly inefficient; the files are huge, but the storage space is there, the bandwidth is cheap, and text-based files don’t faze powerful processors.
The distinction between storage media and computing devices may become a gray area. Small devices are starting to have significant storage capacity. New, portable MP3 players can hold many gigabytes of data. These devices are not necessarily limited to storing music data. Cell phones are beginning to have significant storage capacity as well. Eventually, a cell phone may be used as a portable hard
drive to carry files from work to home. It will also be possible to send files to other cell phones or directly to email accounts.
Large storage systems are also now being sold as independent devices. Instead of buying hard drives and a file server, network connectable storage systems can now
be purchased. These are plug-and-go black boxes that automatically provide a large amount of highly reliable storage. In reality they are complex computer systems.
Security is a concern whenever storage media come packaged with a functional computer. The storage system may have unique security vulnerabilities, exposing data to risks that would not have been otherwise present.
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.