The theme of this month's magazine is The Internet. Well, that's pretty broad, but we set these issue themes a year in advance, so it's difficult to be very specific. (Note that we just finished choosing the themes for 2001, and you can check them out on the Web site.) A topic such as The Internet, however, allows us to talk about all kinds of things that systems administrators are responsible for.
One such topic involves Virtual Private Networks. VPNs allow organizations to balance the need to provide remote access with a need for maintaining security. There are many VPN products, but basically they fall into three main categories: hardware-based, firewall-based, and software-based packages. Commercial ISPs also offer VPN features to large corporations who want to totally outsource these network services.
Virtual private networks also happen to be the topic of our most recent reference poster -- included with this issue. This poster provides an introduction to VPNs and a quick look at their features and benefits, as well as some handy troubleshooting tips. Sys Admin is grateful to Tina Bird for contributing the text for the poster. For more information on the subject of VPNs, check out TechWeb's VPN Source Page at: http://www.internetwk.com/VPN/default.html or the VPN FAQ compiled by Tina at: http://kubarb.phsx.ukans.edu/~tbird/vpn.html.
In this issue, we have articles on several other Internet-related topics. For example, we offer an article by Alek Komarnitsky describing the Web interface he wrote for the nmap program to simplify port scanning. Arthur Donkers (welcome back, Arthur!) explains how to use the VTun package to build your own virtual private network. Arthur has just returned from a leave of absence from writing for the magazine -- during which time he was concentrating on his consulting business. I look forward to being able to include Arthur's articles on a regular basis once again. Werner Klauser provides an introduction to MySQL and its use in creating dynamic HTML Web pages. Adam Olson shows how to configure TCP Wrapper to keep crackers away, and John Tiso describes the installation and use of Cisco Security Scanner. I hope you enjoy the issue and the poster!