Trusted Network: Solutions, Environment & Technologies

Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha has a Doctor of Education Degree and is currently working as a Information Technology Specialist.

A network is a connection of computers, servers and electronic devices that enables the devices to communicate with each other. A trusted network requires authentication through login credentials and encryption of data. Today we will learn more about trusted networks.

What is a Trusted Network?

Tom was hired by a community college to configure a trusted network of computers and mobile devices within the campus. A trusted network is a network of devices that are connected to each other, open only to authorized users, and allows for only secure data to be transmitted.

Tom had recently graduated with a degree in Network Systems and Security so he was excited to be able to put his newly acquired knowledge to good use. Tom met with his new co-workers and team members to discuss more about this project. They decided that the trusted network should have the following features:

  • Authentication: the network should require users to login so that only authenticated users are allowed to use the network
  • Encryption: the data should be encrypted so that secure data cannot be intercepted and transmitted to unauthorized users
  • Firewall: the computers and servers on the trusted network should include hardware like a firewall, which is a software program or piece of hardware that helps screen for security
  • Private Network: the computers and servers on the trusted network should be equipped with software like virtual private network (VPN), which allows for remote work with secure data transmission

A Computer Network in an Office
A Computer Network in an Office

Firewalls

Tom and his team decided that the first step was to configure a firewall so that unauthorized users (like hackers) and viruses can be kept out of the campus network. At the same time, it must allow campus users to access resources outside of campus without any problem.

So, Tom and his IT team updated the operating system of all the computers and servers to include a firewall. The firewall will by default block all outside programs, but can be configured to allow valid programs through. When the firewall is turned on, many programs from the outside will be blocked and not allowed to communicate to the computers and servers inside the firewall.

A firewall is like a door that protects a home. Anyone who has to enter into the house will need a key to enter the building. But, like a home owner, other people can have copies of that key to be allowed in.

For example, Professor Jackson from inside the campus classroom may not be able to use chat software to communicate to an international student, if the computer the professor uses has the firewall option turned on. To make it possible for the chat to work, the professor does not have to turn the entire firewall off. That would be like leaving the door wide open for any burglar nearby.

Instead, the professor only needs to add an exception to the firewall to allow the chat software program to communicate through the firewall, like giving that software a key. The professor can now communicate with others outside of the firewall while his computer and data is secure within the college network.

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