To dive further down the paranoid trail, there's still the matter of pesky embedded Trojans. Imagine a scenario wherein a major hardware manufacturer unknowingly included chips with Trojans in the firewall product itself. You could view every single piece of traffic heading through the firewall, but unless you're watching both sides, you might miss the fact that certain data is being copied on its way across the device and sent to another site. A carefully constructed siphon like this might even buffer interesting data internally, releasing it in slow, steady streams during lulls in normal traffic flows to further reduce its visibility.
Venturing along that same trail, we might envision embedded hardware doing this, but the data might go through cell data providers so that there's no trace of its existence within the company's infrastructure. While some data centers have little or no cell reception, far more do. This is the stuff of nightmares for corporate IT security folks.
As in so many facets of IT, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. The quest for true network security and visibility is an ongoing struggle, and even with all the notice in the world, there's no winning this arms race. But that doesn't mean we can just quit. If you're not watching your outbound traffic now, plan on doing so as soon as possible. Whether you start with something as "simple" as NTop or go for the big guns like the NIKSUN device, it's a worthwhile investment of time and money -- kinda like firewalls.
This story, "The firewall threat you don't know," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.