Extraordinary Extranets: Security and Privacy
Security and Privacy
An extranet requires a degree of security and privacy from competitors. They might contain repositories of information and data that could, in the wrong hands, prove detrimental to its participants. Extranets might be viewed as the intersection of a number of different company intranets. Security and privacy is implemented either by ensuring that the transmission lines are privately owned or leased or by using the Internet with password authorization.
In a typical intranet, a local area network (LAN) is built, and a special device, called a Proxy Server, is established to offer one-way (outgoing) access to the Internet by serving as a third-party between you and the sites you want to visit. Sometimes called a firewall, proxy servers trust those on the local network side and don't trust anybody on the Internet, thus disallowing requests from entering in from the outside. Most proxy servers require those on the trusted side to log-in as proof of their authorization to use it.
It's possible though, to open the access to those on the Internet side with adequate security controls to assure its safe use. Through Access Control Lists (ACLs) on the server and router configuration settings, you can limit those who enter through the Internet to tightly controlled resources that can be defined as narrow or as broadly as you desire.
IDs and passwords can be assigned in whatever ways work best for you. Many organizations ask those who wish access to their site to complete a profile that gathers any information they'd like to have about them. Once they complete the profile and submit it, they can review it to decide if it's acceptable or not, and return the ID and password via e-mail. By gathering this type of information yourself, you can use it to your advantage. Building profiles of your visitors helps you to focus your advertising costs and products that you offer in ways no mass-marketing approaches can begin to match. Customer profiles help you to build demographics on your clients, help you to understand how your click-through advertising is working, and might serve as the foundation for data warehousing applications or Customer Information Systems.
Using combinations of stored profile information and CGI scripts, you can customize the user experience especially to your visitor's preferences and in ways that target their interests and maximize the chances that they'll buy something from you. Once they do, they'll not only perform the order entry work you'd otherwise have to pay someone to do, but they'll thank you for it and walk away happy. Now, you've not only saved on marketing costs but you've also saved on other operating costs, and built levels of customer goodwill that might never be possible with a storefront.
Comments are welcome
Created: Aug. 27, 1997
Revised: Aug. 27, 1997