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Internet Firewalls Introduction The Internet is a complex web of interconnected servers and workstations that span the globe linking millions of people and companies But there is a dark side The convenient availability of valuable and sensitive electronic information invites severe misuse in the form of stolen corrupted or destroyed data found therein Compounding this problem is the unfortunate fact that there are ample opportunities to intercept and misuse information transmitted on the Internet For example information sent across telephone lines can not only be seen but also can be easily manipulated and retransmitted or software can be developed to do something as fundamental as deny Internet service Preventing unauthorized access is a cost that should be factored into every Internet equation What follows is an explanation of Internet security and the concept of Firewalls What Makes the Internet Vulnerable Lets look at some of the most common security threats Impersonating a User or System - To authenticate Internet users a system of user-Ids and passwords is used Anyone intent on gaining access to the Internet can repeatedly make guesses until the right combination is found a simple but time consuming process made all the easier by programs which systematically try all character combinations until the correct one is eventually generated User-IDs and passwords can also be trapped by finding security holes in programs a person looking to abuse the Internet finds these holes and uses the information leaked through them for his or her own personal agenda Even someone who has been entrusted with high-level network access such as a system administrator can misuse his or her authorization to gain access to sensitive areas by impersonating other users Eavesdropping - By making a complete transcript of network activity sensitive data such as passwords data and procedures for performing certain functions can be obtained Eavesdropping is can be accomplished through the use of programs that monitor the packets of information
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