Federal Internet Monitoring Center
...It's No Savior
In an effort to increase our Homeland Security the Bush administration
has been designing and building an Internet monitoring center. Since
Internet security is a big problem, the feds have decided that it must
be part of their terrain.
Global Early Warning Information System -- Gee-Whiz!
This "Global Early Warning Information System," (pronounced
"gee-whiz") has been under development since late 2001,
and is being built by the National Communications System (pronounced
"NCS") -- the DOD (Department of Defense) agency that has been tasked
with assuring government communications during national emergencies.
The government has been accused by civil libertarians of amassing too
much information, and having intrusive tactics. The "Carnivore"
system designed and used by the FBI is installed at ISPs (Internet
Service Providers) and can monitor all of the traffic flowing through
their networks. [For the FBI's take, look at Carnivore
According to the
Washington Post "The agency now receives data from
several key telecom and Internet service providers, and in [March]
hopes to launch the first stage of its pilot project, which
will combine the information into a graphical view of the health of
Good for Business?
Privacy issues aside, what good will this system be for small
businesses or home users? Monitoring a large part of the Internet
traffic will certainly help them examine patterns that may indicate a
large scale attack. For the most part, however, large-scale attacks
are not what create security problems for businesses. Every-day
worms. This new bureaucracy is unlikely to be of much help.
Mainstream Security Services'
R. Craig Peterson warns "the only effective way to secure your
business or home systems is via a complete security system. This
includes a pro-active firewall, in-band monitoring intrusion detection
system, and sentries monitoring individual servers. Using a
comprehensive, unified approach, Mainstream not only provides the
hardware and software, but also all of the services that small
business needs to properly protect its networks and servers. This
federal government program will help with national-scale attacks, but
won't help the little guy."
What to do?
Cover the security basics.
Install a firewall.
Install an intrusion detection system.
Configure it properly. This is hard to do. Most
firewalls are not properly configured.
Keep it up-to-date on a daily basis.