Evaluating Security Features in .NET framework

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Evaluating Security Features
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Security features for hardware, operating systems, and applications are considerably better today, although they aren t always taken advantage of in the implementation and deployment phase. There is considerable room for improvement in the way many software packages deal with security. If your organization and IT department are serious about security and controlling access, every security feature available in the software packages you are using must be evaluated for the benefits derived from their use. Every time a decision is made to not take advantage of a built-in security feature or control, record the risks and the justification for not doing so as part of the architecture documentation. These features have been bought and paid for, except for the personhours to integrate them; it only makes good sense to fully evaluate their benefits and use them when they enhance access control or accountability. The lack of finite controls today demonstrates how much of an afterthought security has been in the implementation process even when the security features were present in the software. Beginning with the DOS operating system, third-party vendors offered security products as add-ons to fill requirements for providing access controls to early desktop computing environment. Another factor that becomes apparent to even casual observers of technology environment security is how complex the security profile for any one end user is in most organizations complex computing environments. Figure 7-1 shows a small sampling of the different levels and ways security control points are appropriately applied to an end user.
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INTERNAL APPLICATION CONTROLS ACCESS CONTROL LIST ACCESS CONTROL DATABASE AND/OR DIRECTORY DIRECTORY NETWORK ACCESS FILE ACCESS CONTROL
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Figure 7-1 Access control levels create complex profiles.
The complexity of levels and lack of coordination between them are root causes for security failures. The simple principle of what-can-go-wrong-will and each additional control point compounds the probability that something will go wrong and weaken overall security. Today, a more refined approach to making more sense out of identity-based authentication, authorization, and access controls is possible. The tools and the expertise to greatly improve access controls at all levels are in the IT marketplace right now. Knowing what to ask for is far too often the missing element. The human tendency is to answer the question that is asked, so knowing the right questions to ask is what gets you the proper information. For example, the answer to Does my application include access control may be yes. But for the follow-up question, What about the storage for that application s data files the answer may be no, meaning that there is not adequate security for
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all access control elements. Any weak link breaks the overall profile s level of protection.
Increasing Regulations
The points where security access controls are possibly applied are still evolving. Regulatory bodies continue to change the thinking on what and how many points are sufficient for applying control relationships. Also changing is the character of who is appropriately accountable and therefore allowed access, a group of end users or an individual end user. SOX audits soon will be uncovering not only that adequate controls are missing at nearly every level in some implementations but that accountability spreads to very large groups rather than to identified individuals when weak control strategies are applied. The current trend for controlling is clearly moving to focus on DEALS (directory-enabled application-level security), in which service directories control access rights all the way to the application and, whenever technically possible, the right to isolated data fields within the data of any given application, particularly in the Web front-end applications environment. Identity management and identity provisioning, which leverages the use of one source for identity data across many platforms and applications, are terms frequently used as descriptors for major components of the facilitating technology used to reduce sign-on complexity. The regulatory trend obviously continues to drive control requirements for application-level and data-level controls.