Or Why an IP Isn’t Like a Postal Address

I find it disturbing that the first analogies for an IP address compared it to a street address for a building. An IP address is more like a cell phone number of a resident in an apartment house. This series of blogs will cover various addressing schemes and works to identify the best way to identify hosts on the network for compliance and management. I have a vested interest in the subject because I work in information security (INFOSEC) and need to accurately track risk in an enterprise, my ability to do this is tied directly to the ability to track and report on network hosts. If your writing an app to manage or report on hosts on a network please read this and learn – it’s my requirements for any vendor in this space.

Why do we need this? Traditional tools track IP addresses like every device has one and only one ip and it never changes. This is so far from the case it isn’t funny but in reporting risk we must report accurately. For any report going to management discussing hosts on the network we need to be able to provide precise numbers and measures of effort. In order to provide this we need to be able to accurately track hosts and services (applications, databases, etc). To track those we need to automate the identification of these hosts and be able to track their attributes correctly.

This series of posts will discuss the issues with various identifiers for hosts and services and the solutions that can be used to track these assets across an enterprise. When we’re done we will have a solution that encompasses every use case and correctly represents every asset in your enterprise. We will also provide network drawings representing problems and solutions, links to more information, as well as a glossary of terms to make the conversation accessible to everyone. The biggest surprise to me is that most people working in the industry don’t have the language to discuss these problems much less the ability to precisely manage the hosts.