Smarter Security

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Not since the Battle of Britain have so many owed so much to so few. The harsh reality is that security threats continue to become more complex, while the number of people trained to combat these threats grows at a very modest rate.

MICHAEL VIZARD Can be reached at (650) 513-4227 or via e-mail at

The simple truth is that most IT organizations can't afford to keep security specialists on staff either because they don't have the resources or they can't pay wages that are competitive with organizations that have dedicated security practices. So the first line of IT security defense is the channel, and fortunately the next generation of tools solution providers will have at their disposal will be substantially better than their predecessors.

%95 Intelligent Firewalls. The next wave will feature packet-filtering techniques that allow certain types of traffic through, such as Web services. Instead of turning firewalls into Swiss cheese to accommodate Web services, we can use new application paradigms while maintaining security.

%95 Intrusion Detection Systems. These tools will be more tightly integrated with firewalls and may eventually merge with firewalls in the same way that VPNs are doing now.

%95 Antivirus Software. Today this class of software targets a lot more than viruses. In the future, it will be used to fend off all manner of hostile code, including spam.

%95 Anti-Denial of Service Appliances. Dedicated tools are making a difference because they provide critical information that makes it easier to isolate affected systems.

%95 Trusted Systems. Current systems are rife with security holes such as buffer overruns. The next generation of systems will make it a lot harder for hackers using basic scripts to compromise a system. That means hackers will get more sophisticated, but there will be fewer of them with the necessary skills.

%95 Identity Management. This category will be hot in 2003 as IT organizations move the security issue up from the network to the applications and data level.

Look for tight integration between these tools and portal offerings.

As noted in CRN West Coast Bureau Chief Marcia Savage's cover story, the key element is the intellectual capital brought to bear by people. But it's nice to know that while the bad guys are getting smarter, the tools to thwart them are getting better.

What's your security IQ? I can be reached at (650) 513-4227 or via e-mail at

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