Death by Assocation
Mail servers arent immune to "death by association." I once had a shared hosting account and woke one day to find that my mail from that domain was blocked by one of the major RBLs (Realtime Blackhole Lists), such as Mail Abuse Prevention System. Some digging revealed that this RBL blocked mail servers by IP address, and I was on a shared mail server. In all likelihood, some other domain on the same server had been spamming, but I paid the price all the same.But the implications for the industry are significant. I agree with Peter Pathos, president of The Planet Internet Services Inc. of Dallas. In a recent interview, Pathos said security issues would be the death of the "mom-and-pop" hosting industry and that "only those larger hosting companies focused on security will succeed." Pathos went on to describe some of the products and practices his company uses to secure its customer sites. Its all good, but most of it protects the inside from whats outside. Once something comes into a server, say by a trusted customer, theres only so far that operating-system hardening can take you. And not every hosting service spends all of the money on security that The Planet does. As a general matter, you should consider your own site, even one on a dedicated server, more vulnerable to attacks from other sites in the same data center than from outside. You know how in the movies the bank robbers rent the basement next door and break in at night? If you want to attack an Internet site, maybe even an Internet bank, rent a logically nearby server. But nothings more nearby than another site on a shared server. If security is really important, you really ought to get yourself a dedicated server. If youre scared off by the money it costs, security probably isnt as important to you as you think. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at http://security.eweek.com for security news, views and analysis. Be sure to add our eWEEK.com security news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:
More from Larry Seltzer
Security issues for hosted domains havent been covered enough by the media. I began to touch on them and how they are more common than is generally thought in a recent column on DDoS (distributed-denial-of-service) attacks.