My question is based on network security and management. I work at an ISP, and lately we've been experiencing traffic on our network and my superior colleagues are a little confused about what is the real cause of this. I would appreciate any advice on how to go about securing and managing our network to ensure optimal output from end to end. Thanks.

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Thank you for taking the time to write to me. Begin the process of managing traffic and security by asking the following questions:
  1. Is there more end-to-end consistent traffic than available network (backbone) bandwidth? If yes, consider augmenting your infrastructure to support more traffic. Begin by using a sniffer to capture traffic patterns on your backbone and to each end point.
  2. Is there a peak period where consistent traffic creates network congestion? If yes, consider managing your traffic by using a Quality of Service (QoS) tool to mitigate traffic congestion from end to end.
  3. Is there a list of logged customer calls complaining about abnormal network/traffic issues? If yes, there may be a Trojan horse on your or customer's network. When was the last time that you updated your router and server? Consider testing and applying relevant patches and security hotfixes.
  4. When did you first detect network congestion? What changes were made to the infrastructure (routers, switches, etc.) prior to congestion symptoms? Consider examining the configuration and traffic statistics on each router and switch to isolate your bottleneck.

Take care,
Luis

This was first published in December 2002

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