INTERNAUT

Here is the latest 411 on going live with a new Internet server

Shawn P. McCarthy

If your office plans to add new online services, remember that the Internet's shifting landscape always has new territory to consider.

Systems with fixed Internet connections'dedicated servers, cable modems, routers and gateways'have fixed IP addresses. In contrast, dial-up Internet providers usually assign addresses dynamically from a pool when a user connects.

Your agency probably has an assigned range of usable IP numbers for plugging your new server into an existing network. Otherwise, your office's Internet service provider must assign a number. Once you have the numerical IP address, you can opt for a domain name if you wish.

To register a government domain name, visit the Center for Electronic Messaging Technologies, part of the General Services Administration, at registration.fed.gov. For military domain names, visit www.nic.mil. Work with these offices to get the right domain name ending in .gov, .fed.us or .mil.

If you're adding domains to an address you already have'for example, machine1.agency.gov in addition to machine 2.agency.org'the extended addresses are the responsibility of your own domain manager.

To register a .us domain, visit the Information Sciences Institute of the University of Southern California at www.nic.us.

It's your name

With most of these services, you can reserve or 'park' a domain name without setting up a Web site by using 127.0.0.1 as the IP address.

If your request for a specific government domain name is denied, you might want to contact the .gov domain manager, gary.borgoyne@fed.gov. The official policy on government domain name registration appears at www.nic.gov/REFERENCE/rfc2146.txt.

You can reach the Defense Department's Network Information Center help desk by telephone at 800-365-3642 or 703-821-6266. E-mail contacts are listed at www.nic.mil/cgi-bin/mailus.pl.

For a good outline of how IP addressing works and how it affects your new server, read 'Understanding IP Addressing: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know,'' a white paper from 3Com Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., at www.3com.com/nsc/501302.html.

Your site will function only with proper cross-network connectivity. Even if you feel confident, make sure the site can be seen both from your local network and across the Internet. Also confirm that you are properly represented across the Net's Domain Name System.

How many hops is your new address from an Internet backbone? A program called Traceroute will list all the intermediate routers between two locations. Find downloading pointers at ftpsearch.lycos.com/cgi-bin/search?form=lycosnet&query=traceroute&filetype=All+files.

If it appears that you're many hops away from a backbone, or if the route fluctuates wildly each time you test, use Traceroute diagramming to configure a dedicated path.

Just as important, have outside colleagues run Traceroute to map their connections to your site. Ask them to test both the IP address and the domain name. Depending on the services you plan to offer and how important response time is, the results could prompt you to move the server closer to a backbone.

Once you're plugged in, you can run scanning pings to locate other servers in your address range. Be aware, though, that the other sites could interpret this as hacker activity.

Do you live here?

The easiest way to find out who is in your neighborhood and to learn more about your Internet provider is to use online whois forms. Enter a domain name to learn details about which servers are running and who registered their domains.

For the .mil domain, visit www.nic.mil/cgi-bin/whois. For .com, .net, .org and .edu domain names, go to whois.internic.net/whois.html.

The whois services tell others who you are. If you want to find out what the outside world knows about your firewall, routers and even your client machines, visit privacy.net/analyze and let the automatic tools take a look. You'll learn some amazing things.

When new machines appear on the Internet, they are often immediately probed for security holes. If you notice such activity or fear your machine has been compromised, notify your computer emergency response team. Federal agencies have a Federal Computer Incident Response Capability at www.fedcirc.gov. Military networks should contact DOD CERT Online at www.cert.mil.

Beat hackers at their own game by applying a security probe to identify and fix any vulnerability before outsiders find it. One such automated tool, called SATAN, is downloadable from ftpsearch.lycos.com/cgi-bin/search?form=lycosnet&query=satan&filetype=All+files.

To make sure of being represented in services such as GovSearch, submit your uniform resource locator to standard.northernlight.com/cgi-bin/govsearch_url_submit.pl. Each of the top search engines also has a URL submission form.

Look for pointers from the top pages. It may take several weeks fo your new site to start showing up in search results.

Shawn P. McCarthy designs products for a Web search engine provider. E-mail him at smccarthy@lycos.com.

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