Security and the Home Enterprise

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2006-08-03 Print this article Print

Opinion: Security, like all computing here at my house, is overbuilt, but the home of the future has to be this way.

Here at Larry Seltzers House, Inc., the computing infrastructure has always been more sophisticated than the neighbors and more complex than it really has to be. But I have capabilities from which all home networks would benefit, and toward which the industry must move. After hardware failures in some 6-year-old computers that finally had to be replaced, I took the opportunity to rebuild much of my network from the ground up, and to reevaluate security at the same time. Because I had been briefed on it and was impressed, I decided to migrate the home network to Microsofts Small Business Server 2003 R2. I try to treat my home network like a business, but its not entirely that simple. I do have to support my the computing needs of my wife and daughter. Lucky for me my daughter is too young to complain; just point her to the PBS Kids site and shes happy. And I havent screwed up my wifes computer yet to the point where shed complain.
Microsoft has announced Service Pack 2 of Windows Server 2003, on which Small Business Server is based. Click here to read more.
And now that we have a clean, planned business environment we have benefits that, the way I look at it, anyone would want in a home network, if he or she knew such things were possible. Tops on my list is our family shared calendar, although there are free solutions for this too. We also have portable profiles; I can log on to any computer in the house (we have quite a few) and get to any of my stuff, including all of my e-mail, and not in some lame Web-based interface, but from Outlook itself. Because SBS comes with excellent remote access support, we all can get at all of our e-mail, calendars, documents or whatever from outside the house, as well. I have visions of putting homework deadlines and cleaning your room in the calendar. And while I dont have hard plans to set up a family Intranet and design workflow procedures, dont put it past me. For advice on how to secure your network and applications, as well as the latest security news, visit Ziff Davis Internets Security IT Hub. The typical home network is completely unmanaged, a set of loosely connected islands of information. For the most part, administrators (i.e. parents) cant manage client systems (children and other parents), and tools for enforcing security are blunt. The power to administer your kids computers in the way a business could is analogous to going into their room and searching it. Parents may or may not be comfortable doing that, but I think its important that they be able to do so. For a business product of this capacity, Small Business Server 2003 is easy to set up, but thats not easy like your average Linksys router, which most consumers find challenging. Even the average business will buy SBS pre-installed and still need a consultant or VAR to set it up and configure it for them. SBS and the other products Im using here are far, far too expensive and complex for home networks, but to me that just means the industry has a long way to go. And of course a home network doesnt need most of whats in SBS. But a future home network should make it easy to manage systems, manage security, run applications at the network level and do it all easily. Maybe my daughter will be able to do it for her kids. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. He can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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