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3.8 What is a DMZ, and why do I want one?

  ``DMZ'' is an abbreviation for ``demilitarized zone''. In the context of firewalls, this refers to a part of the network that is neither part of the internal network nor directly part of the Internet. Typically, this is the area between your Internet access router and your bastion host, though it can be between any two policy-enforcing components of your architecture.

A DMZ can be created by putting access control lists on your access router. This minimizes the exposure of hosts on your external LAN by allowing only recognized and managed services on those hosts to be accessible by hosts on the Internet. Many commercial firewalls simply make a third interface off of the bastion host and label it the DMZ. The point is that the network is neither ``inside'' nor ``outside''.

For example, a web server running on NT might be vulnerable to a number of denial-of-service attacks against such services as RPC, NetBIOS and SMB. These services are not required for the operation of a web server, so blocking TCP connections to ports 135, 137, 138, and 139 on that host will reduce the exposure to a denial-of-service attack. In fact, if you block everything but HTTP traffic to that host, an attacker will only have one service to attack.

This illustrates an important principle: never offer attackers more to work with than is absolutely necessary to support the services you want to offer the public.

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