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Apache: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition by Peter Laurie, Ben Laurie

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13.1. Internal and External Users

As we have said, most serious operating systems, including Unix, provide security by limiting the ability of each user to perform certain operations. The exact details are unimportant, but when we apply this principle to a web server, we clearly have to decide who the users of the web server are with respect to the security of our network sheltering behind it. When considering a web server's security, we must recognize that there are essentially two kinds of users: internal and external.

The internal users are those within the organization that owns the server (or, at least, the users the owners intend to be able to update server content); the external ones inhabit the rest of the Internet. Of course, there are many levels of granularity below this one, but here we are trying to capture the difference between users who are supposed to use the HTTP server only to browse pages (the external users), and users who may be permitted greater access to the web server (the internal users).

We need to consider security for both of these groups, but the external users are more worrying and have to be more strictly controlled. It is not that the internal users are necessarily nicer people or less likely to get up to mischief. In some ways, they are more likely to create trouble, having motive and knowledge, but, to put it bluntly, we know (mostly) who signs their paychecks. The external users are usually beyond our vengeance.

In essence, by connecting ...

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