Keep Your Computer Network Safe from Hackers

By Luczak, Mark | Business Credit, October 1992 | Go to article overview

Keep Your Computer Network Safe from Hackers


Luczak, Mark, Business Credit


If you have ever shopped for a security system for your home or car, you can appreciate the quandary businesses face when they consider security for their local area computer networks (LANs).

For important business and legal reasons, LANs cannot be allowed to unnecessarily compromise privacy and security. Certain information such as salaries and performance reviews must be kept confidential. The same applies to credit histories, personnel folders, and insurance claims.

In order for LANs to be valuable, then, they must be secure so that unauthorized parties cannot obtain restricted information or change or delete files. At the same time, this security can't make the network difficult to use or users will bypass the security provisions or abandon the LAN.

LANs Raise Security Ante Security concerns for computer activity have been sharpened by the advent of terminals and other machines that can be shared by many users. LANs also have added a few security problems of their own.

First, a LAN acts as a highway for many users' data. Like a telephone party line, data on a LAN is available to anyone connected to the LAN.

Second, in LAN-based computing, activities like spreadsheet projections of manufacturing inventory or report summaries on insurance claims involve several computers, often spread around different locations. The computers even may be attached to several different LANs.

So, while you, as the end user, may see only the PC at your desk, your management memos, source data, and final report documents may be stored on different computers on different LANs. If you send a review copy of your report by electronic mail, it may traverse several more LANs before reaching its destination.

Steps to LAN Security The first step in securing LANs is to restrict access to certain accounts, files, and other resources.

This can be done through a variety of software and hardware mechanisms. Users can be prompted for passwords by the menu on their desktop computer and by the network operating system when they want to use a directory, file, or before being allowed to read electronic mail.

LAN security software can often handle this, automatically passing along the user's authorization profile to applications and other systems. …

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