Building an Internet Presence with Servers: Part I

By Mark Richards (Send Email)
Posted Apr 2, 2003


In this article, we present the first phase of how a business would use Internet servers to build a business on the Internet -- establishing an Internet connection. This allows the employees of a company to act as an Internet peer, enabling them to browse the web, communicate via email, download files, and more. How can a business build a presence on Internet? By deploying the proper servers for specific tasks. In this article Mark Richards explains what servers are needed for internal needs.

Providing an entire organization with Internet connectivity presents a number of technology and management challenges. Immediately, the organization must be concerned with a myriad of threats posed by the mere act of connecting employees directly to the Internet without the proper management tools:

  • Security -- providing employees with direct connections to the Internet without the proper security considerations creates unacceptable risks. Threats include the risk of virus infection and distribution, hacking and penetration of Internal network, the exposure of sensitive data, and more.
  • Productivity -- a strong potential exists for the abuse of Internet access within the Internet connected organization. Businesses need the ability to enforce their policies with regard to the appropriate use of company resources.
  • Liability -- unrestricted Internet use can expose companies to potential legal liabilities.

The proxy server software packages available today can, to a varying degree, provide a secure and manageable environment for connecting business users to the Internet by sharing a single Internet connection with employees attached to the corporate network. Selecting the right proxy server software for your organization first involves understanding how the software addresses the above concerns. Here are some features to look for:

  • Anti-virus -- choose proxy server software that provides built-in anti-virus scanning capability for all Internet traffic (email, browsing, FTP, etc.). This provides a layer of protection for your employees and the customers with whom they interact.
  • Content filtering -- prefer proxy server software that provides a layer of content filtering to manage legal liability and enforce resource policy compliance.
  • Firewall features -- reduce the risk of network security breaches with proxy server software that offers firewall functionality.

Proxy server software can further allow organizations to manage and monitor Internet usage through authentication requirements, the ability to tailor service to local users through the assignment of rights and privileges, logging of Internet usage by employees, integrated reporting tools, and more.

Another direct benefit of deploying proxy server software is the effective privatization of the computers that connect to it. When employees connect directly to the Internet, they are assigned a public IP address accessible to everyone else on the Internet. This creates a significant exposure risk, as well as further depleting the already limited pool of public IP addresses. Proxy server software, on the other hand, generally uses integrated DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) services to assign private IP addresses to the local computers connecting through it, thereby presenting a common, protected gateway for Internet connectivity and simplifying deployment.

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