Chapter 25: Security Considerations

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As storage networks continue to grow and become more complicated, management processes and security procedures will play an integral role. While management is a key requirement in any type of storage infrastructure, security is the one component that could undermine the availability of both management and storage. This chapter provides an introduction to many of the existing and future security problems in storage networks and the correlating best practices that can be implemented today. Although this chapter will not cover every single storage security problem or provide in-depth coverage on each security exposure identified, it will discuss the architectural and tactical problems that most often plague storage networks and how to approach a solution for each of them.

While various trends have occurred in the digital marketplace over the past five decades, both storage and security have received more attention in the last decade (early 1990s to present) than the first four combined (excluding major governmental agencies focus on security). Furthermore, with the growth of the Internet, security has been the focus of many conversations concerning network architecture, application design, and now storage technology.

The terms storage technology and security architecture would not have been mentioned in the same sentence a decade ago, or even five years ago. Today, however, with significant changes in the storage industry (the expansion of the storage network into the WAN and beyond the LAN) and due to education gained from the security mistakes in Internet Protocol (the numerous security problems with IP version 4), the relationship between storage technology and security architecture has become an important one. Todays storage industry has an opportunity to pursue and support a healthy security posture before storage security problems are widely identified and, more importantly, widely exploited.

Its important that you understand why storage and security must coexist so that you can anticipate an attack and understand an attackers (hackers) mindset. For example, consider a home with a front door, back door, and garage door as three legitimate entryways. The front door has three security devices: a door-handle lock, a dead-bolt lock, and a chain lock to prevent an intruder from entering. In addition, the homeowner has secured the back door with two security devices: a Master lock combination on the fence leading to the back door and a dead-bolt on the back door. The garage door is opened and closed only with a garage door opener , which is in the vehicle at all times. Additionally, the homeowner has purchased a security system to alarm the authorities in the event of a front or back door break-in (similar to an intrusion detection system, or IDS, in a network). This adds an extra obstacle for access to the front and back doors.


An IDS is a device that passively monitors networks to determine and report any type of malicious activity that is being conducted .

Now consider the security of the house (or the computer network): The intruder must consider which is the best route, in terms of time and success, to enter the home (or network) and gather priceless goods. The front door contains three security devices. The door lock and dead-bolt can be picked, but this takes a significant amount of time and skill. Furthermore, even if the two locks were picked successfully, the chain lock would have to be cut with an industrial sized chain- cutter , requiring more skill and time. And then theres the alarm to consider. As a result, the front door sounds like a tough option.

For the back door, the fence Master lock combination will also take a significant amount of time because an infinite amount of combinations would need to be attempted. Even after the combination is finally brute-forced, the back door dead-bolt would have to be picked, also taking time and skill. Even if this door were opened, the alarm would sound. This option also seems pretty unpromising.

The garage door is secured with the garage door opener. However, most garage door openers do not use an overly complicated infrared architecture to open the garage door. In fact, a local hardware store usually carries a device that spans several channels that might connect on the correct channel and open any garage door. In addition, most hand-held devices, such as Palm and PocketPC, can have applications that capture the infrared signals of a garage door opener to open it exclusively with the hand-held device. The purchase of this device, and the fact that the homeowner will probably be opening/closing her garage at the same time every morning, can result in an intruder using a hand-held device to capture the infrared signal and eventually open the garage. Once inside the garage, the only thing stopping the intruder is the house garage door but many homeowners do not lock that door because of the assumption that an intruder would not be able to enter the locked garage.

This home example relates to the digital storage network and the mindset of a digital attacker. Although the storage network is not the traditional access point for most attacks, a savvy hacker can avoid the hassle of subverting multiple firewalls, switches, router Access Control Lists (ACLs), Virtual Private Network (VPN) devices, and IDS sensors to gain access to data via the less-protected storage network that has direct access to all of the important data.


Router ACLs are used to allow or deny access to networks based on IP addresses. VPN devices allow for remote networks or individual users to connect to internal networks in a safe and secure manner. A VPN allows multiple networks in different geographic locations to exist as a large virtual network.

Attackers are not interested in gaining administrator rights or even root access to a given host; rather, they are interested in access to data. The fact that the storage network contains sensitive data and is not adequately protected (similar to the house garage doors) leaves the perfect opportunity for an attacker. Furthermore, many of the storage protocols in place today, such as Fibre Channel and iSCSI, are bandwidth and throughput-focused protocols with security usually absent (similar to the poor infrared channels on many garage door openers). This scenario leaves the door wide open for attackers to subvert storage protocols and get direct access to data, without compromising one firewall or encryption device.

Even though the storage network is often not protected thoroughly, it has access to the companys critical data and intellectual property. The myth that the storage network cannot be reached by attackers is easily subverted with a variety of techniques that are usually easier than going through traditional networks with multiple firewalls, switches, router ACLs, VPN devices, and IDS sensors. This fact makes the decision easy for the attackers on which route they should take to access data quickly and easily.

This chapter introduces the concept of security in storage networks and discusses basic principles and best practices to consider. The following topics are discussed:

  • Overview of computer security

  • Security methods

  • Storage security technology

  • Storage security challenges

  • Fibre Channel SAN security

  • NAS security

  • Best practices

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Storage Networks
Storage Networks: The Complete Reference
ISBN: 0072224762
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 192 © 2008-2017.
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