Connectivity Isnt Network Integrity

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2006-12-04 Print this article Print

Network traffic source authentication is a future IT challenge.

Gandhi is said to have told his followers, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." When it comes to ensuring network integrity, were moved to a bleaker view: "First it seems impossible, then its obscure, then its trivial, then its impossible after all."

Thats our reaction to several stories we saw this November about The Alibi Network in Prospect Heights, Ill. The company positions itself as seeking "To invent, create and provide personalized virtual alibis for people wishing to anticipate and justify absences." In short words, the company uses cheap and pervasive technology to help its customers cheat, lie and hide.

When a network technology first appears, its an achievement to make a connection—and success is judged accordingly.

Even after a technology is proved, early implementations will be usable only by experts. Cost reduction and commercialization bring growing ease of use—followed closely, sad to say, by ease of abuse.

It took an Alexander Graham Bell to invent the telephone, but now The Alibi Network can make it look as if youre taking a call at a conference when youre actually in a motel room in Las Vegas.

With ever more dependence on remote service partners and other resources, network traffic source authentication is a big part of tomorrows IT challenge. As eWeek Labs receives candidates for product review—development tools, collaboration aids, net management software and so on—we see growing emphasis on what they prevent rather than what they permit.

We appreciate the difficulty of envisioning and preventing modes of abuse, even though we regret the corresponding emphasis on the negative that results in our reviews—but thats where the distinctive strengths and critical weaknesses of products are increasingly to be found.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at

WWWeb Resources

Alias on demand

The Alibi Network has found a need and filled it

Positive connections

National Notification Network wears a whiter hat

Info assurance

Surety and PGP offer innovative approaches,1895,2031725,00.asp

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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