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Security Administration in an Open Networking Environment

Karen A. Casella
Sun Microsystems, Incorporated


As networking technologies evolve and business needs change, traditionally isolated and secure communication networks are giving way to more open computing environments. Security, network and systems administrators must therefore concern themselves not only with firewall and boundary security, but also with individual system security. Security administration in a large open network is a challenging assignment and requires a combination of auditing, assessment and compliance mechanisms. For very large networks, automation is another variable which is critical to consider in this equation. There are several tools available to assess the security of networks and systems; however, there are few freely available solutions for addressing the problems that these analysis tools detect. This paper describes the changing network security paradigm and discusses what tools are available for identifying security vulnerabilities in an open network environment. It goes on to state the problem that we faced at Sun and describes the suite of tools that we have designed and implemented as a solution, focusing on the automation of system security assessment and compliance. Finally, SunSWAT, the Sun Security Weakness Attack Tool, is introduced and its evolution from a single shell script designed to respond to the results of a network security audit, into a system for improving system security, implementing enterprise security standards and auditing to those standards, is discussed.

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