Many years ago, in a system administration class one of us attended, the instructor spent an entire afternoon teaching us the step-by-step procedures for breaking into several different models of Digital Equipment Corporation VAX computers. We learned how to “hack” into a computer from an operator’s console and how to gain privileged access from a remote terminal. Of course, some ways to break into the computers were easier than others, but all of the models that were current at that time were able to be compromised. The people in the class were amazed that an instructor would so thoroughly teach the art of the break-in. One student expressed this amazement to the teacher. The teacher’s reply, which seemed so obvious afterwards, was, “If you don’t know all of the ways which someone can use to compromise your system, you won’t be able to completely defend that system.”
With the explosive way in which the world has embraced the use of the Internet, intranets, and the World Wide Web, we now have more ways in which our systems can be compromised — and there is much more to be learned about defending those systems.
Who’s using the Internet today? The large volume of Internet users now includes such diverse populations as private citizens, commercial businesses, universities, hospitals, public institutions, national, state, and local government bodies, and non-profit organizations.
The wealth and volume of information available on the Internet is ...