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A bump in the wire

By Sparky | June 27, 2007

I just had my million dollar idea and I’m all but giving it away in an effort to make the web safer – just give cut if you make your fortune on it. While plugging in a network cable I realized that the cable itself needs to be smarter and able to help filter and protect its user from network attacks.

For a long time software firewalls on computers have been problematic for many reasons. While they can be helpful in keeping malware and hackers out of a computer once something has breeched the firewall in even the tiniest of ways it’s possible to disable or subvert a software firewall to enable further attacks or malicious use of the machine. This is the reason most businesses put their trust in hardware firewalls – a hardware solution is much more difficult to remotely disable and can do a much better job of filtering both incoming and outgoing traffic.

While businesses with IT professionals can manage and maintain a hardware firewall with little muss or fuss it’s often beyond the average consumer. Many consumer grade routers offer firewalls and in addition offer a level of security by putting users behind NAT (Network Address Translation) which helps mask them from the Internet as a whole. These routers help, but not everyone has a router at home, and even a router can be tricky to set up.

What is needed is a smart network cable with a simple built in firewall. Imagine a cable with a “bump in the wire” which contained a small embedded OS which performed simple firewall and content filtering duties. It of course would be difficult to offer an enterprise grade solution from something this simple, but even the most basic filtering would make helping secure a computer as easy as plugging it into the wall. Because the cable would offer a hardware solution it would be far easier to not only prevent incoming attack vectors, but also if the attached computer does become compromised common outgoing ports used by malware could be blocked.

To take this kind of solution to the next level the cable could be offered as a managed service. The bump would be automatically updated by a server side component which could manage ports for their users and adapt the firewalls rules to new malware that has been identified in the wild.

Simple and transparent to the user, and yet another layer of security in this wild west we call the Internet. Am I a genius for coming up with such a simple but effective idea, or is the idea flawed in some way that’s escaping my exhausted mental state right now?

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Topics: Development, Internet, Open source, Technology, Web gems | Comments Off

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