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Last Updated December 16, 2003

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Firewalls

Firewalls create a secure barrier (in theory) between your internal network and the outside world. Common in large corporate environments for years, the growth of broadband internet access has expanded the need for firewalls on any network with a full time internet connection. But not all firewalls are created equal, and even a great firewall is only as good as it's configuration. In fact, they're not really walls, but doors that allow trusted traffic to flow in and out of your network. Unfortunately, firewalls can give network administrators a false sense of security resulting in weak security policies and unsecured servers. Never assume a firewall is completely secure, perform regular audits, and never let up on the security on the other side of the wall.
FAQ's, Tutorials, and Guides for Beginners...

Firewalls For Beginners
A great technical introduction to firewalls for administrators. Source: SecurityFocus.com (Nov 6, 2000)

Internet Firewalls FAQ  
By Marcus Ranum. The Internet's Firewall Bible. A must read and a great place to start if you know nothing about Firewalls.

ICSA's Firewall Buying Guide  
An excellent resource that includes a basic introduction to Firewalls, types, design, specification, testing, and certification.

Fight Fire with Firewalls
Microsoft's Guide to Firewalls from the MSDN Online Workshop

Desktop Firewalls
Protect your workstations from intrusion. Source: Windows & .NET Magazine (October 2001)

Additional Resource Links...

COAST Hot List Guide to Internet Firewalls  
The comprehensive list of resources for Internet Firewalls. Includes articles, reports, FAQ's, Firewall testing, research, tools, etc. The vast majority of the information here is for Unix servers, but the basic principals of Firewall design apply to NT as well.

ICSA Certified Firewall Products
Before you buy or recommend a firewall solution, check out the Lab reports and testing guidelines from ICSA.net.

More Advanced Articles and Whitepapers..

Auditing your Firewall Setup
Great article by Lance Spitzer on how to audit your firewall setup.  The purpose of this paper is to help you verify your firewall is correctly implemented and behaves as you expect it.

Building the Firewall Rulebase
Mis-configured firewalls are one of the biggest risks security Admins face. This paper by Lance Spitzer describes in a step-by-step fashion how to build a secure firewall rulebase.

Firewall Hardware
A Buyer's Guide to help you find out which firewalls offer as much automatic configuration and ease of use as possible. Source: Windows 2000 Magazine (March 2000)

Firewalls for the Rest of Us
Network security can come at a price that's too high for small and midsized businesses. Firewall appliances and outsourced services can bring security to the masses. Source: Network Magazine (Sept. 1999)

Firewall Penetration testing
An excellent paper by Reto Haeni for his Computer Security class.

Firewall Vulnerabilities
Hacker tools can get by even the most hardened firewalls. Source: Network Magazine (Aug 1999)

How to Pick an Internet Firewall
Must read article by Marcus Ranum

Personal Firewalls/Intrusion Detection
The complexity of PC operating systems, applications and browsers has contributed to continual discovery of security weaknesses (which the typical user cannot be expected to follow or understand). Until now the standard tool for defending Windows was the Anti-Virus scanner, but this is no longer enough - the Personal Firewall has made it's debut and should soon become an essential tool for Windows users connected to hostile networks. Source: Security Portal (July 17, 2000)

Placing Backdoors through Firewalls v1.5 
A must read before you put the finishing touches on your Firewall solution..

Thinking about Firewalls v2.0: Beyond Perimeter Security
By Marcus Ranum. Although it was written in 1993, this is still an excellent intro to Firewalls

The Ultimately Secure Firewall
A reality check from Marcus Ranum. Other articles by Marcus can be found here

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