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Plan security for an external secure collaboration environment (Windows SharePoint Services)

SharePoint 2007

Updated: April 16, 2009

Applies To: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

Updated: 2009-04-16

In this article:

Security guidance for an external secure environment is targeted to hosting content in an extranet for the purpose of collaborating on content with contributors who do not have general access to your corporate network. This environment allows external partners to participate in a workflow or to collaborate on content together with employees of your organization.

There are several unique recommendations for an external secure collaboration environment. Some of these recommendations might not be practical for all solutions.

Protect back-end servers

External secure collaboration requires Internet-facing servers. You can limit the exposure to traffic from the Internet by protecting back-end servers:

  • Protecting database servers   At a minimum, place a firewall between front-end Web servers and servers that host databases. Some environments dictate that database servers be hosted in an internal network instead of directly in an extranet environment.

  • Protect the index role   The index component communicates through a front-end Web server to crawl content in sites. To protect this communication channel, consider configuring a dedicated front-end Web server for use by one or more index servers. This isolates crawling communication to a front-end Web server that is not accessible to users. Additionally, configure Internet Information Services (IIS) to restrict SiteData.asmx (the crawler SOAP service) to allow only the index server (or other crawlers) to access it. Providing a front-end Web server dedicated to content crawling also improves performance by reducing the load on the main front-end Web servers, thereby improving the user experience.

Secure client-server communication

Secure collaboration in an extranet environment relies on secure communication between client computers and the server farm environment. Where appropriate, use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to secure communication between client computers and servers. To increase security, consider the following:

  • Require certificates on client computers. SSL can be implemented without requiring client certificates. You can increase the security of external collaboration by requiring certificates on all client computers.

  • Use IPsec. If client computers support IPsec, you can configure IPsec rules to achieve a greater level or granularity of security compared with SSL.

Secure the Central Administration site

Because external users have access to the network zone, it is important to secure the Central Administration site to block external access and secure internal access:

  • Ensure that the Central Administration site is not hosted on a front-end Web server.

  • Block external access to the Central Administration site. This can be achieved by placing a firewall between front-end Web servers and the server that hosts the Central Administration site.

  • Configure the Central Administration site by using SSL. This ensures that communication from the internal network to the Central Administration site is secured.

Secure design checklist

Use this design checklist together with the checklists in Plan server farm security (Windows SharePoint Services).

Topology

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Protect back-end servers by placing at least one firewall between front-end Web servers and the application and database servers.

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Plan a dedicated front-end Web server for crawling content. Do not include this front-end Web server in the end-user front-end Web rotation.

Logical architecture

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Block access to the Central Administration site and configure SSL for this site.

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Secure SSP administration sites by configuring these sites with SSL, by hosting these sites in a dedicated Web application, and by configuring a policy to deny external access to these sites.

Plan security hardening for server roles

The following table describes additional hardening recommendations for an external secure collaboration environment.

Component Recommendation

Ports

Block external access to the port for the Central Administration site.

IIS

Restrict SiteData.asmx (the crawler SOAP service) to allow only the index server (or other crawlers) to access it.

Plan secure configurations for Windows SharePoint Services features

The following table describes additional recommendations for securing Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 features. These recommendations are appropriate for an external secure collaboration environment.

Feature or area Recommendation

Authentication

Use SSL for authenticated users. This does not apply to the anonymous user who is browsing the site.

Authorization

Use security policy to cap external users permission (create deny policies to limit what external users can do).

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