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1. In Focus: Enforcing Corporate Web Policies
2. Security News and Features
- Recent Security Vulnerabilities
- Novell's New Alternative for Microsoft Customers
- WebDAV for Remote Access
- Permission Changes Surprise Mobile Device Administrators
3. Security Toolkit
- Security Matters Blog
- Security Forum Featured Thread
- Instant Poll
- Share Your Security Tips
4. New and Improved
- SMS Does Group Policy
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==== 1. In Focus: Enforcing Corporate Web Policies ====
by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net
Last week I blogged (at the URL below) about an upcoming tool, Psiphon, that will undoubtedly give some administrators a difficult challenge. The reason is that your users could employ Psiphon to bypass your content or URL filters.
According to information posted on the Web (at the URL below), "Psiphon is a user-friendly stand-alone proxy application designed to securely circumvent Internet censorship.... Unlike other circumvention technologies, Psiphon relies on multiple social networks of trust, rather than mass publication of IPs or proxies, which can be easily intercepted and filtered by a determined state."
Psiphon is a script written in the popular Python language. It works in a similar fashion to a traditional proxy server--that is, a remote Psiphon server intercepts and processes URL requests, then returns the data to the requesting client. The traffic is encrypted between the Psiphon client and server. The idea is to have a trusted friend or associate, or possibly one of your own computers, run the Psiphon server at the remote location. Psiphon servers require a username and password from the client, so access to them can be controlled.
Another popular tool in a similar vein is The Onion Router (Tor, at the URL below), based on the SOCKS protocol. Tor is a bit different from Psiphon in that anonymous people run Tor servers. Effectively, Tor acts as an anonymous network of proxy servers, and your traffic might pass through any number of them (but at least three), depending on how you configure the client. TOR directory servers keep track of the addresses of Tor proxy servers and automatically deliver those addresses to Tor clients.
One major attraction of Tor is that it offers relative anonymity. Anyone can run a Tor client or server without having to reveal anything to the outside world except an IP address, and that address is only made known to the first TOR server your traffic passes through. Furthermore, all traffic on the TOR network is encrypted, which helps protect against snooping.
There are of course a number of other proxy services that could be used to circumvent your corporate policies. Here I point out Psiphon and Tor because Psiphon is new and although Tor has been around for quite some time, both are gaining more attention as the days go by.
Preventing the use of outside proxy services can be tedious. You could of course limit the ability to install unauthorized software such as Python, Psiphon, and Tor, or regularly audit systems to look for unauthorized software, or both. Another tactic could be to filter connections to proxies. However, it would be difficult to filter all the many third-party proxies that operate over port 80, particularly because you must discover them before you can filter them and because you probably can't block at your network borders.
The overall problem is compounded if you use Web browsers, mail clients, and other Internet-related tools that don't offer much control over their configuration. If you can restrict the client configuration of proxy and SOCKS settings, you can better control policy enforcement; if you can't restrict configuration due to software limitations, savvy users will go the end around if they want to.
I think one of the best deterrents is to have written acceptable-use policies that include clearly defined grounds for termination of employment. If people value their jobs, they'll probably follow the rules.
I'm curious about how you deal with this problem of policy circumvention on your network, if at all. If you can share details, send me an email. If I receive enough responses, I'll summarize them in a future edition of this newsletter.
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==== 2. Security News and Features ====
Recent Security Vulnerabilities
If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these discoveries at
Novell's New Alternative for Microsoft Customers
Coming at a time when Microsoft customers are mulling over the upcoming Windows Vista platform, Novell announced its Open Workgroup Suite, which the company says is an open, low-cost alternative to the Windows-centric solution.
WebDAV for Remote Access
Are you looking for a better way to provide remote workers access to internal file servers? Look no further than leveraging Windows XP's and Windows Server 2003's built-in support for the Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) protocol, which provides secure access through an application proxy. Learn more about it in this article on our Web site.
Permission Changes Surprise Mobile Device Administrators
The difficulty of balancing security and functionality has recently been highlighted by a change Microsoft made to the way mailbox permissions are applied in Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange 2000 Server and how the change affected mobile device users. Paul Robichaux explains in this article on our Web site.
==== Resources and Events ====
Exchange and Office 2007 Roadshow
Get the facts about deploying Exchange and Office 2007! You'll come away with a clear understanding of how to implement a best-practices migration to Exchange Server 2007, how to use Exchange Server 2007's new capabilities to improve your messaging environment, and how you and your end users can get the most out of Office 2007.
Use virtual lab automation solutions to address special challenges in pre-production and staging environments, such as virtual server file library management, provisioning, configuration, and remote access concerns. Live Event: Thursday, May 18
Mark Joseph Edwards discusses emerging spyware threats, including rootkits and keyloggers, and spyware distribution methods. Live Event: Tuesday, May 30
Maximize your VoIP environment by integrating FoIP technology to increase ROI and streamline processes.
Learn the advantages of running SQL Server 2005 and its BI subsystems on the x64 platform; the performance benefits the x64 architecture provides for Analysis Services, Integration Services, and Reporting Services; and how to migrate to the new 64-bit x64 platform.
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==== 3. Security Toolkit ====
Security Matters Blog: Psiphon Due Out by End of May
by Mark Joseph Edwards, http://www.windowsitpro.com/securitymatters
As mentioned in the commentary above, Psiphon might be a potential headache for your policy enforcement. Then again, it might be a good tool to have on hand for a variety of testing purposes. Learn more in this blog entry.
by John Savill, http://www.windowsitpro.com/windowsnt20002003faq
Q: What is Microsoft System Center?
Find the answer at http://www.windowsitpro.com/Article/ArticleID/50225
Security Forum Featured Thread: Antivirus Solution
A forum participant needs to purchase a new antivirus solution for his company. He supports 75 to 100 thin clients that generate a lot of mail activity. The company's call center has a large and complicated system that includes voice recording servers, NAS, and lots of Web and FTP traffic. He's especially interested in people's experience with Symantec's and Trend Micro's enterprise solutions. Join the discussion at
New Instant Poll
Which technologies do you use to secure your WLANs?
- WPA or WPA2 with 802.1x
- WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK
- We don't support WLANs
See the article "Reaping the Benefits of WPA and PEAP" at
Submit your vote at
Share Your Security Tips and Get $100
Share your security-related tips, comments, or problems and solutions in the Windows IT Security print newsletter's Reader to Reader column. Email your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we print your submission, you'll get $100. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length.
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==== 4. New and Improved ====
by Renee Munshi, email@example.com
SMS Does Group Policy
FullArmor announced a Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 version of GPAnywhere. GPAnywhere for SMS lets administrators create Group Policy Objects (GPOs) in the SMS 2003 console and use SMS to deliver them to clients that might be outside the Active Directory (AD) domain. GPAnywhere for SMS also ships with three templates containing Group Policy settings recommended for high, medium, and low security environments and a template designer. GPAnywhere for SMS works with Windows 2000 Server and later versions. Prices start at $6 per managed machine and $1250 for the management console. For more information, go to
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