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12 myths about how the Internet works

Carolyn Duffy Marsan | Nov. 24, 2008
What are the myths about how the Internet works?

10. Internet communications are not changed in transit.

Thaler cites several assumptions about Internet security that are no longer true. One of them is that packets are unmodified in transit. While it may have been true at the dawn of the Internet, this assumption is no longer true because of NATs, firewalls, intrusion-detection systems and many other middleboxes. IPsec solves this problem by encrypting IP packets, but this security scheme isn't widely used across the Internet.

11. Internet communications are private.

Another security-related assumption Internet developers and users often make is that packets are private. Thaler says this was never true. The only way for Internet users to be sure that their communications are private is to deploy IPsec, which is a suite of protocols for securing IP communications by authenticating and encrypting IP packets.

12. Source addresses are not forged.

Many Internet applications assume that a packet is coming from the IP source address that it uses. However, IP address spoofing has become common as a way of concealing the identity of the sender in denial of service and other attacks. Applications built on this assumption are vulnerable to attack, Thaler says.


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