The Internet has been designed as a ‘pool of endless information’ for anyone who has access. With its introduction in the mid 1990’s, it has vastly changed the way we do business, obtain all kinds of data and the way we communicate in the world today. With its sheer potential, we have created the most powerful tool of our modern day technology. In a series of memos that were first written in 1962, by an MIT expert of the name of J.C.R Licklider, he had envisioned a type of ‘network’ in which a set of computers were globally interconnected in sharing information and anyone could access data from anyone of these terminals (Leiner, Cerf, Kahn & Clark, 1962-1974).
The Internet society believe that the Internet should be used by everyone freely, meaning that the number one objective is to promote the development, security and stability of the World Wide Web. Malicious attacks such as viruses, spams, spyware and other viscous attacks on hardware and software have become well known wide spread through the web. These attacks often result in irreparable damage and abuse the very freedom the Internet principles were based on (Internet security,” 2012). Many aspects of our lives include the electronic transferring of data through some means of electronic devices such as cell phones, computers and other mobile devices such as emails and text messaging. Everything from traffic signals, car technology and airport/airplane navigation has been linked to the usage of transferring vital information via the web and through other communication channels. Government data such as birth records, social security documentation and tax records also need to be protected.
This information is very confidential and establishes the identity of millions of people in the world today. What exactly is cyber security? In its broadest definition, it is the protection of information and computer systems in we rely on, whether at work or at school. Information is crucial and it may not be altered incorrectly. It should only be shared with the appropriate users and intentional parties. There are, of course, many different levels of security. The information must only be accessible to those who need it and have been intended to see it, for example, medical records. They should have a different level of security and only be made available to those who need this information such as the appropriate doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and other medical staff. These records need to be well protected to prevent anyone from making unauthorized changes resulting in harmful activities.
Cyber security is becoming increasingly more important, because every day, new attack methods are being launched and thousands of web pages are discovered continuously in the involvement of illegal data breaches. Several examples of types of ‘electronic infections’ include ‘Denial-of-Service’, which includes the actual shut-down of many legitimate websites and denies access to its existing user base, rendering many users unable to access important information. Another type of malicious attacks is ‘Malworms’ or ‘Trojan Horses’; these are viruses spread by email and instant messaging, sometimes unaware by the user.
They may be downloaded simply by visiting the wrong websites. ‘Botnets or Zombies’ use several computers to launch the attack and steal information across a spread of terminals, copying the ‘evil software’ from one device to the next. Social network attacks are also on the rise and sometimes a link may be posted to steal personal information or download a virus hidden by the attacker. User’s inherent trust in posting vital information for their friends is what causes these social networks to be prime targets for the attackers (Internet security,” 2012).
Today, 70% of large companies rank viruses and hacking ahead of fraud and physical break-ins as their greatest threat. The importance of protecting vital electronic data is more important today than it has ever been. Whether it is the stealing of information, the planting of malicious malware or simply the intention to ‘search and destroy’, hackers have become the nation’s number one threat in creating immense damage to businesses of all sizes and can severely impact a company’s integrity or capability to perform at its peak potential. IT security has now been placed very high on the risk management agenda of any major corporation (“Why cyber security,” 2010).
There are several examples of attacks on computers to obtain private information. One of many examples involves a 20 year old kid, by the name of Christopher Maxwell who created a 50,000 computer zombie network that caused approximately $135,000 in damage by infecting a Seattle hospital and various military locations. The attack shut down not only the finance departments, but also attacked computers in the hospital’s intensive care unit, seriously compromising many patients welfare (O’Brien, 2007).
With the high demands of IT versatility, companies are more and more in need of more flexible hardware and software to cater to the ever growing demands of data transfer and information storage capabilities. The technology is becoming more advanced and creates endless opportunities for today’s businesses however this also creates more opportunity for cyber criminals to launch attacks and become more proficient in succeeding with new ‘gateways’ to cause great harm or steal valuable data.
A new recent trend in stealing data is when traveling employees use these so called ‘hot-spots’ to obtain internet access. Clever hijackers have found ways to throw up ‘splash pages’. These splash pages track user data, credit card details used to pay for the wireless service and other information that may be used to harm the employee and/or the company the person works for. This also applies to home networks. Usually, individuals do not invest into the same type of security that companies may do, making these home networks viable for attacks. This is very crucial, because the home computer can become infected with vicious malware and introduced into the workplace or vital information can be stolen that is confidential to the company (“Why cyber security,” 2010).
It is now known that the Secret service maintains its own Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTFs), which focus on identifying and locating cyber criminals involved in all types of criminal activity such as bank fraud, sensitive data breaches and other cyber related issues. The DHS (Department of
Homeland Security) prevented the potential losses of nearly $1.5 Billion through cyber crime and brought charges against 72 individual cyber criminals for their direct or indirect participation of wide-spreading the use of children pornography (“Combat cyber crime,”n.d.).
In most recent news, President Obama is considering issuing an executive order that would require the DHS to prepare a set of guidelines and rules in the combat against cyber criminal activity. In April of 2012 (this year) the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was introduced into the House of Representatives, but failed to pass the Senate due to privacy issues, shows how serious Americans are on creating a plan of attack. Even though CISPA was not passed, the executive order that would be issued would not surpass the privacy issues that were the reason for CISPA not passing the Senate’s approval.
The reason the CISPA bill did not pass is that several privacy advocacy groups oppsed the bill strongly because it would have allowed private companies to sell or exchange user data with the federal government for critical cyber security information (Koebler, 2012). Cyber security is the processes and practices designed to protect programs, networks and computers (and other devices) from malicious attacks and unsupervised access. It represents the body of technologies to understand and fight back in the event of unlawful damage and unnecessary harm (“cybersecurity,” 2010).
The conclusion is to do our best to try and prevent as much cyber criminal activity as possible. There a few things that companies and individuals can do. Stop. Think. Connect. These basic rules and guidelines have been measured by the industry and several help factors have been evaluated. The first of many basic rules is to keep your firewall and security software (ani-virus programs) up-to-date. Computer viruses and hackers are like any other common flu virus, they evolve and become stronger with each step in their evolutionary path. Constantly changing your passwords on your devices/software is also recommended.
On average (at a minimum) these passwords should be changed at least once every three months. The second recommendation is to shop online with the utmost care. Make sure you are on a HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) website when submitting personal information such as credit card numbers and bank account records or transactions. Another is laptop security. If a laptop is stolen, make sure you have the proper software installed. There is tracking software available to pinpoint where you laptop is and there is also software available that can remotely access your computer’s files, erase them on the stolen device, and then place them in a secure data center for recovery.
Another important tip is to avoid spam and scams. Questions every email of which the origin you do not know or trust, because simply by opening the wrong email can one access a virus or other harmful software. Social networking has become huge and it is also a great tool to obtain and research valuable information. It is highly recommended that not all data be put out there for one to see. This information is sometimes easily accessible to the wrong individuals. Also, don’t just open any attachments or click on any suspicious links. Download with caution, because the Internet has a lot of harmful software out there that can cause serious damage to either your hardware or data files (and software).
cybersecurity. (2010, December). Retrieved from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/cybersecurity Combat cyber crime. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/combat-cyber-crime
Internet security. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.internetsociety.org/what-we-do/issues/security?gclid=CNydtKjAr7ICFYSo4AodvnIA0g
Koebler, J. (2012, September 11). Obama may use executive order to advance cybersecurity policies. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/09/11/obama-may-use-executive-order-to-advance-cybersecurity-policies
Leiner, B., Cerf, V., Kahn, R., & Clark, D. (1962-1974). Brief history of the internet. Retrieved from http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/internet-51/history-internet/brief-history-internet O’Brien, R. (2007, January 22). Cyber crime’s impact on
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