Demilitarized Zone

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In computer networks, a DMZ (demilitarized zone) is a computer host or small network inserted as a “neutral zone” between a company’s private network and the outside public network. It prevents outside users from getting direct access to a server that has company data. (The term comes from the geographic buffer zone that was set up between North Korea and South Korea following the UN “police action” in the early 1950s.) A DMZ is an optional and more secure approach to a firewall and effectively acts as a proxy server as well.

In a typical DMZ configuration for a small company, a separate computer (or host in network terms) receives requests from users within the private network for access to Web sites or other companies accessible on the public network. The DMZ host then initiates sessions for these requests on the public network. However, the DMZ host is not able to initiate a session back into the private network. It can only forward packets that have already been requested.

Users of the public network outside the company can access only the DMZ host. The DMZ may typically also have the company’s Web pages so these could be served to the outside world. However, the DMZ provides access to no other company data. In the event that an outside user penetrated the DMZ host’s security, the Web pages might be corrupted but no other company information would be exposed. Cisco, the leading maker of router s, is one company that sells products designed for setting up a DMZ.

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