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The problems of closed networks in a connected world

The idea of a closed network is a bit like that of a room with a locked door. It’s a room with food, TV, Games console but the room is locked.

You want out..

And that is the problem with closed networks today, everyone wants out..

While that may seem like a strange analogy it’s not, the closed network is one which needs to supply a level of service to its users. Just like the locked room with the amenities in it maybe there is a kitchen in there, food everything the people need to survive on that room. However the thing about closed networks and locked rooms is there is always something which wants out. It wants to be connected to the outside world.

In the room it’s the plumbing, which can’t really be self contained, the food will need to be replenished two examples of something eventually needing out of the room.

Modern Data systems are also becoming harder and harder to operate in closed environments, the obvious “Internet Access” if we take the above analogy further may not leave through the front door but through a small air vent, or as you and I might call it a proxy server/firewall combination. Interestingly however it’s not users and operating systems which are requiring the internet access so much as applications.

The vast majority of applications we install on a modern PC at some point between install or usage will require to or if they are very polite ask if they may speak to the internet. As an example 4 of the top industry Windows Anti Virus products in their free version guise will not install on the PC, thats right, not install and not just will install and not work, unless they have internet access. Many Apps require updating over the internet and some even get their dataset and pull in key interface elements from over the web.

This is agree all very convenient, smaller download packages, better updates, quicker roll outs of bug fixes and generally from a consumer level a lot easier to manage for support and customer service. It’s quicker to roll out an update which fixes a security hole on the cloud than expect potentially millions of users to update manually as any AV vendor will tell you.

The downside of this however starts to come when you’re a company looking to protect your data assets, users need access to banking, information, updates and services which are on the web. Email is business critical (apparently) and many other systems need to speak out side of that door. However the IT department trusted with securing data which is the company don’t want anyone without a key coming back in the other way through that door.

I was once told by a director of a company “it’s weighing up users needs over data security, there is no point locking it down if no one can use it” which is a fair sentiment to make. Right up until that moment you have to tell all the staff that they are laid off because the company can’t afford the PR to recover from the recent data breach. Its right at that moment you start to wonder if stating the staffs “rights” to use social media, book flights etc directly from their seat were more important than the malicious payload which came in over email in response to people downloading or subscribing for services with their company mail account.

Realistically no one “needs” internet access, it is agreed a great way to communicate, a great information source, a wonderful way to obtain tools however take a step back a generation and we were doing all of that without a www. or a browser. I’ve been doing this for long enough to remember pre internet life in IT when PC’s were tools, systems were closed and we used face to face, and telephones to communicate, we got information from hands on and making mistakes and if we needed tools we got them mail order or at a shop. We went on training courses and we spoke to other tech people to figure out how to do stuff.

Don’t misunderstand me, i’m not a Luddite, i live and die by the power the internet provides me however i do swear my contacts list was a lont stronger pre Facebook/LinkedIn and we got more done.

Anyway, having digressed from the point. While the internet is growing at a huge rate globally, those who have been using it the longest are now seeing the power they have unleashed and its not all good, so are keeping that door bolted and being as data self sufficient as they can. No cloud, no social but yes to secure and yes to getting on with it..

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This entry was posted on September 28, 2012 by in comment and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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