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2003 Server with an interface on the internet

Posted on 2006-11-02
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In a couple places I have run across Windows Servers sitting directly on the internet with routable IPs on 1 interface and internal Ips on another.   The person that has done this says that it is perfectly fine and safe.  I have a hard time beleiving that to be true, what would be the point of firewalls if that was the case.

So my question is, is that really a good idea and if not why?
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Question by:InvisibleTerror
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7 Comments
 
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by:gidds99
ID: 17861910
Firewalls provide additional security and can provide valuable defence where a Windows Server is not adequately secured (or as an additional layer of network security for Internet facing Windows Servers).
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by:mikeleebrla
ID: 17862078
if by 'directly' you mean there is no router/firewall between the internet and the server, then you are correct that the setup isn't secure at all.  nothing you do on the server to 'protect' it really does much good since the 'offender' has already hit the server.  that is what the firewall/router needs to prevent.

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by:InvisibleTerror
ID: 17862420
Yes that is exactly what I mean.
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by:FixingStuff
ID: 17863123
Agreeing with mikeleebrla ... if indeed the second interface is a direct connect to a router without ACLs and/or firewall in place, this is just as bad a the primary NIC connected to a router with a public IP.  Does the gateway IP route to the "unsecure" NIC? One would assume so or else it would be useless for internet traffic.  Go here and run SheildsUP from the server to check open ports, etc, then show the person:
www.grc.com
FS-
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Expert Comment

by:RevelationCS
ID: 17867145
what you describe above sounds like a proxy/load balancing type environment. If properly secured with firewalls and intrusion detection (internal and external for both), then it is safe to use that method. Using a proxy method to hide your internal network schema is typically a recommended practice as it makes it harder for an external hacker to gain access to the servers as they need to compromise both the external proxy (the hardware with the external IP address) along with the internal machine. Firewalls place more of a difficulty level on that as they would also have to compromise the firewalls.
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CharliePete00 earned 375 total points
ID: 17869064
A Windows server is a general purpose machine.  By default it posses all of the necessary instructions to provide a wide range of services (file, print, dns, web, aplication, routing, etc.) and is designed to execute applications.  They also designed to be dynamic and may be configured to act in just about any role.  A dedicated firewall, on the other hand, is designed for a specifc purpose, limiting and controlling network traffic, and only contains the necessary instructions for the tasks it was designed for.  If security is compromised on a firewall it's difficult to get it to act like anything but a firewall.  If security is compromised on a Windows server you can make it act like just about anything.  While you may be able to secure a Windows server to the point it can be deemed "safe" to expose to the Internet the consequences of any compromises of its security can be pretty severe.  It's always good practice to place a standoff device like a firewall between your servers and the outside world.
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