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Weaknesses in System and Network Configurations

Vulnerabilities in the category of system and network configurations are not caused by problems inherent in protocols or software programs. Rather, the vulnerabilities are a result of the way these components are set up and used. Products may be delivered with default settings that intruders can exploit. System administrators and users may neglect to change the default settings, or they may simply set up their system to operate in a way that leaves the network vulnerable. An example of a faulty configuration that has been exploited is anonymous File Transfer Protocol (FTP) service. Secure configuration guidelines for this service stress the need to ensure that the password file, archive tree, and ancillary software are separate from the rest of the operating system, and that the operating system cannot be reached from this staging area. When sites misconfigure their anonymous FTP archives, unauthorized users can get authentication information and use it to compromise the system.

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