Adam Ely

Network Computing Blogger

Upcoming Events

Where the Cloud Touches Down: Simplifying Data Center Infrastructure Management

Thursday, July 25, 2013
10:00 AM PT/1:00 PM ET

In most data centers, DCIM rests on a shaky foundation of manual record keeping and scattered documentation. OpManager replaces data center documentation with a single repository for data, QRCodes for asset tracking, accurate 3D mapping of asset locations, and a configuration management database (CMDB). In this webcast, sponsored by ManageEngine, you will see how a real-world datacenter mapping stored in racktables gets imported into OpManager, which then provides a 3D visualization of where assets actually are. You'll also see how the QR Code generator helps you make the link between real assets and the monitoring world, and how the layered CMDB provides a single point of view for all your configuration data.

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A Network Computing Webinar:
SDN First Steps

Thursday, August 8, 2013
11:00 AM PT / 2:00 PM ET

This webinar will help attendees understand the overall concept of SDN and its benefits, describe the different conceptual approaches to SDN, and examine the various technologies, both proprietary and open source, that are emerging. It will also help users decide whether SDN makes sense in their environment, and outline the first steps IT can take for testing SDN technologies.

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White List Or Black List?

I have spent my week deep in thought on how to secure connections from third-party business partners into my organization.  Many of these partners work as an extension of the company, such as outsourced development and operations. These partners have access to source code, business documents, and other sensitive data  we would prefer that no one could get to. Data theft is a serious concern, as are other issues, such as a malware infection that hops from a partner's system onto our network.

When I ask my coworkers about this issue, some say to give full, open access, while others advise locking down resources as tight as possible. This is a problem many security professionals wrestle with, and I'm not sure IT has the right solution for every situation.

Traditional theory tells us to use a white list: allow specific source and destination, port and protocol, and only provide access to those we believe to be safe.  In dynamic and changing environments, however,  this leads to lots of changes for IT and reduced productivity for the requestors. Have you ever developed code only to find out when it moved to production that some firewall rule blocks access and IT can't make the change for a week? I have, and it sucks.

Blacklisting is more effective. You identify what needs protecting and don't allow access to it.  I bet there are fewer systems and data that need to be protected than accessed.  This approach may require moving some systems or blocking entire subnets, but white listing can lead to the same work.

I am willing to admit this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. If you have a limited number of partners that only need a specific number of static resources, white listing is the way to go. But if you have integrated partners with ever-expanding responsibilities, evaluate blacklisting as a serious alternative. Once the access control method is in place, be it a white list or black list, other protections can be layered on as needed to identify and respond to access violations or attacks.

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