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Network security polices are essential elements in Internet security devices that provide traffic filtering, integrity, confidentiality, and authentication. Network security perimeter devices such as firewalls, IPSec, and IDS/IPS devices operate based on locally configured policies. However, configuring network security policies remains a complex and error-prone task due to rule dependency semantics and the interaction between policies in the network. This complexity is likely to increase as the network size increases. A successful deployment of a network security system requires global analysis of policy configurations of all network security devices in order to avoid policy conflicts and inconsistency. Policy conflicts may cause serious security breaches and network vulnerability such as blocking legitimate traffic, permitting unwanted traffic, and insecure data transmission. This article presents a comprehensive classification of security policy conflicts that might potentially exist in a single security device (intrapolicy conflicts) or between different network devices (interpolicy conflicts) in enterprise networks. We also show the high probability of creating such conflicts even by expert system administrators and network practitioners.
Date of Publication: March 2006