Individuals commonly associate computer security risks exclusively with thoughts regarding computers in businesses and corporations. However, even for an average user, computer security risks are indeed present especially if a connection to the internet is present (Wang, 2003). To some, having risks in relation to the use of personal computers at home may not pertain to anything of serious consideration.
In reality though, if one considers the multitude of tasks usually done using the home computer, which often contain important personal data, then security threats for a home computer may be more serious than it is commonly thought of (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team [USCERT], 2001). Therefore, it is important to assess the potential security threats and methods of attack that are related to home computer security. As mentioned, security threats for the home computer are a reality.
In this sense, there are indeed numerous examples of potential security threats especially if one has a connection to the internet and constantly uses the different functions of the web. Some of the most common forms of security threats to home computers are in the form of Trojan horse programs and back door programs. Trojan horse programs are tools in which malicious files are allowed entry to the system upon the placement of the Trojan horse which usually takes the form of something that may not seem harmful based on the evaluation of a common user (USCERT, 2001).
Given such functions and features, it is very much apparent as to why Trojan horse programs are called as such. As previously pointed out, back door programs are also examples of programs that pose a threat to home computers. Characteristically, back door programs, which are also referred to as remote administration programs, provide other individuals the means to control the home computer through a network connection (USCERT, 2001). Other home computer security risks come in vastly different forms.
For one, an attack termed as denial of service, allow other individuals to incapacitate a home computer by placing extreme amounts of stress upon it in terms of data processing; in addition, it is commonly taken into consideration that individuals that aim to attack other home computers usually take advantage of home computers that they have already compromised (USCERT, 2001). As previously pointed out, home computer users are probably not as skilled in terms of providing protection for their computers and their networks as compared to those that use computers in large businesses and firms.
Specifically, personal information may easily be attained through such codes and scripts if one is not careful (USCERT, 2001). Individuals that aim to cause harm towards home computer users take into account some of the most common tasks accomplished through the use of the internet. As mentioned, codes and scripts may be used to the detriment of a user during the course of web browsing. Email spoofing and email borne viruses are two of the most common concerns regarding email and its relation to home computer security.
While email spoofing may be a form of trickery so that the user may assume that the sender of the information is rather trustworthy and will hence not be cautious in his or her reply, email borne viruses use trickery as well but also uses malicious codes in the form of cleverly disguised as attachments to various types of messages which is made worse by the fact that hidden file extensions may be taken advantage of to make a virus appear to be harmless (USCERT, 2001). In addition, chat clients are also considered to be of potential risk.
The main reason for such as consideration is that chat clients are highly similar to email in terms of function (USCERT, 2001). Given a varied assortment of types of security threats to home computers, one may already develop a sense of understanding as to how attackers gain information from a computer system. One method or technique used by attackers is through disguising a security threat as something that seems harmless, as it is quite expectable that even the average user has a sense of what is harmful if it is blatantly evident (Wang, 2003).
From the previous discussion, such an approach may be observed from the distribution of Trojan horses, malicious code and scripts on websites, and email and chat client viruses. Expectedly, if the disguised program or code is transferred into the home computer and it is run, then personal information may then be transferred to the attacker. Aside from such an indirect approach, attackers may also use direct approaches in taking personal and important information.
As exemplified by packet sniffing and network and computer access through previous placement of a malicious program or through identification and manipulation of weaknesses in security, attackers may use immense technical knowledge to directly select and acquire the information that they need such as credit card numbers (Wang, 2003). In general, it is made evident from the points discussed that home computers are also at risk due to the presence of different potential security risks as well as various ways in which attackers may use such security risks.
Home computers that are connected to the internet may be seen both as a source of convenience for users but may also be perceived as a possible tool in which important information utilized by the user may be threatened. There are ways in which the negative aspects of home computing and security risks may be minimized by developing a better understanding of such security threats and methods of attack. Therefore, even for home computer users, broadening the level of knowledge regarding such issues of concern is certainly not a waste of time.