Saturday, October 08, 2005

on consoles

consider this yet another nail in the coffin of the cockamamie idea of peer networks.

professionally, your friendly neighborhood happyfunboy stopped supporting peer networks quite a while ago. the reasons i made that decision are varied and numerous, but can be boiled down to one primary idea:

a workstation acting as a peer "server" cannot deliver the stability and reliability necessary for a production network.

now, in this modern age of hostile code and attack vectors out the wazoo all squarely aimed at the weakest link in any security model...the user environment...having someone do day-to-day work on a machine acting as a server is simply the technological equivalent of russian roulette.

contrary to popular belief, a properly sized and configured server should need very little hands-on-keyboard maintenance. ok...check a log once in a while, or the status of the backup, while onsite.

but by and large...a server should just sit there, unmolested, and run.

running a user shell is a huge resource drain tho. most servers should be optimized for background tasks anyway...so they can better service requests coming from their network clients.

once someone has server console access, they have a lot of power. sure, they could run a regular user account, but as we all know...99% of applications won't run right without elevated privileges.

yaso: thanks again all you developers making security decisions for us...ya nimrods!

so not only does that person using that server have access far above what they should, but anything that executes in their user session also has that same access. like...a virus. or a backdoor trojan. or a keylogger. or whatever else tickles their fancy enough to make them click on some popup that appears while they surf the intarweb.

so it puzzles me why any it provider in their right mind would install a peer network in a business where any downtime or data loss is costly, let alone configure such a network where someone works at a server console and uses it like a workstation.

only thing i can figure is that it was done as a pure cost-saving move.

reading one of amy babinchak's blogs yesterday reminded of a very good quote from smb nation:

when a big business stubs its toe, it says 'ouch.'
when a small business stubs its toe, it dies.


and so the entire fate of that company is constantly being risked to save a measly couple of thousand bucks.

to me...that's the biggest disservice you could do to a client. as i've said over and over:

there is nothing small about a small business, not to the owner of that business.

it's not enough that a network works. you need to reasonably and adequately secure it against risks. and if you enounter resistance to implementing certain aspects of the needed security, you need to be sure you are communicating those risks in ways the business owner can understand.

because if you don't, you've just made a security decision for that owner, which...in all honesty...no one but they have a right to do.

1 Comments:

Blogger Susanne said...

Great post - hits one of the SBS nails on the head!

4:53 AM  

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