Whenever data is stored on physical media, it has the potential to become compromised. For example, secret notes between Napoleon and his generals were compromised and led, in part, to his defeat. Napoleon's secret notes were written on leather or paper and sent by fast riders. In a computer context, those secret notes are stored on a hard drive and either used locally or transmitted across a network to a friend, coworker, Internet site, or other location beyond your server or organization. In this chapter, you'll see who can access those secret notes on the local hard drive and how to ensure only the desired people and groups can access them. Techniques for ensuring that your data remains secret when transmitted on a network will be covered in subsequent chapters.
The use of long-term computer data storage, whose benefits are numerous, raises special security consideration for the system administrator: how do you protect data so that only the intended user has access while ensuring some level of recoverability over time? In this chapter, you'll learn how to use file permissions and EFS?the two main file protection mechanisms provided by Windows Server 2003?to control user access to files. You'll see how to use these mechanisms appropriately and how they are often misconfigured in ways that prevent desired access. You'll also learn how to plan for a number of special security concerns specific to the use of portable computers. These plans may include Syskey, a special tool for protecting the account database, which I show you how to use properly.