Network Security guide for the home or small business network – Part 20 heterogeneous networks



One thing I’ve already mentioned in this serious is using alternative programs like Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, or Thunderbird, Eduora instead of Outlook Express. Even if you’re not using alternative software as your primary web browser, email program there are advantages to having networks with mixed software, operating systems and even mixed network hardware. Back when the blaster worm hit, there were stories of businesses paralyzed when every Windows XP machine in the place (read – EVERY machine in the place) could not stay up long enough to download a fix. In order to get a fix they had to get online to find out about it and it was crashing within 30 seconds of booting.


There were also stories of those that used linux workstations, or livecds like knoppix to save the day. Basically, the blaster worm ONLY affected Windows and everything else was workable and usable to find fixes to solve the Windows worm problem. Personally, I like having options….

This is one of the reasons I think that open standards are important. For web browsers this means sites designed to a standard that all browsers interpret. We have those kinds of standards for mail servers, just competing implementations of the standard. Any program these days that opens documents from a source outside the local machine is susceptible to exploit…. email clients, web browsers, office applications, pdf readers, media players…. etc. It’s nice to have more than one installed.

For that matter, network hardware is something that contains it’s own software to run. That software can have vulnerabilities of it’s own. Certainly it’s worth keeping up with firmware updates for that hardware. It’s probably not a bad idea to diversify the network hardware as well. If you have 20 wireless access points made by the same company and discover that they have the same vulnerability that will make life much more difficult than if you discover that 7 out of 20 are affected by a vulnerability.

Anyway, these aren’t hard and fast rules, but will likely make life easier when worms and exploits bite. It does take more to keep track of updates across a larger list of software and hardware but well could be worth it.

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