Computer networks and the internet have drastically changed the way we live and conduct business. Businesses conduct operations through vast computer networks and servers. Citizens have also embraced this new way of life by simply having all our lives pegged on the internet. Therefore the web provides a channel of communication and exchanging of crucial information. Currently, the internet is the leading channel for doing business and hence today employers allow their employees to work from home through their home computers and other hand held devices such as iPads. Additionally, the advent of ecommerce has ensured that common citizens can go the internet and buy or sell items using their credit card information. A more recent phenomenon to have hit our cyber space are the more common and favorite social networking websites. These social networking sites allow us to be connected with family, friends and associates and they usually have so much information about our private lives.
However, the internet is also the most insecure channel for communicating such crucial information. Companies and Internet Services Providers (ISP) have developed several schemes such as encryption to protecting internet users1. However, hackers have since been able to bypass these measures and continue to attack internet users. Such hackers target crucial information that is held by these devices. The information that they obtain is sometimes extremely sensitive information that could jeopardize a person’s livelihood for good. This paper analyses the importance of practicing information security at the home and on personal assistive devices (PDAs). The research will first evaluate the current happenings in cyber security and in particular the records that indicate the current state of cyber security. The research paper further will provide possible solutions on ways and means of practicing home security.
Study into cases of attacks on privately owned devices has found that information security may be curtailed by technical issues in the design of the system2. However, by keenly reviewing individual incidents and common targets reveal a more in-depth analysis of the maneuvers used by hackers and the motives behind such attacks. A database has been developed called the Web Hacking Incidents Database (WHID) which helps keep a record of hacking incidences and has since revealed a common trend taking root among internet hackers.
In the 2009 analysis of the WHID, it was revealed that social websites were the most commonly attacked websites in the world. Personal information was easily accessible through such social websites and most victims found most of their information misused. However, it is the methods that these hackers used in accessing more information that was most interesting. The method used by these hackers was Standard Query Language (SQL) injection into a website code. This injection of code not only allowed hackers to access the social websites of the user, but also allowed the hackers to access other files on the device 3. This method also accounts for nearly 20 percent of all internet intrusions. Social websites such as Facebook and Twitter were found to be the most vulnerable sites for attacks4. One in every five attacks carried out on the web targeted social websites. These cases of cyber attacks call for measure to try and reduce the vulnerability of the users. One of the methods that have been proposed is for the user to act with more diligence.
Personal effort of the End User
According to Rowlingson5, it is not enough to have firewall software and antivirus in the system. There are other measures that end users could employ to ensure that information in the home computer and personal devices are secure. One of the most appropriate methods that experts suggest is using the latest operation system software in the market. This is due to the common fact that with time software operating system software companies such as Apple and Microsoft continually improve security features in their systems. One of the latest host windows operating system, Windows 7, has been acclaimed by several experts to be relatively secure6. Default security features in Windows 7 such as a strong firewall and tough log-in credentials make this system more secure as compared to Windows XP and Windows Vista. Similarly, security measures found on new Mac OS X system allows updates of new security features.
A second ‘security behavior’ that user could employ is storing work information in work servers. This is so because most organizations have much stronger security measures as compared to individual users. Rowlingson7, suggests that employees should develop the culture of saving sensitive information in the organization integrated information system. Forwarding such content through the organization email system ensures that work related data is in the hands of the employer.
There is new technology in the field referred to as cloud computing. This kind of technology allows users to use secure applications through networks of servers owned by private firms. This technology also allows end users to save sensitive information in the cloud saving model of the technology. Rowlingson8, emphasizes that cloud computing is one of the safest methods of saving personal information such as webmail and financial information. This is so because, cloud computing is governed by privacy policies and rules that are implemented at the federal level. Additionally, companies that are involved in cloud computing have invested in sophisticated technology that secures such information.
Cyber security is now one of the greatest concerns that governments, organizations and individuals have to contend with. While governments face the threat of national security to the homeland, several organizations and businesses such as T.J Maxx might find themselves out of business due to cyber insecurity. On the personal level, individuals may see all their life savings and social security efforts go down the drain due to loss of information in their home computers and personal devices. Each person has the responsibility of taking necessary measures towards protecting self from such hackers.
Ballad, Bil, Tricia Ballad and Erin Banks. Access Control, Authentication, and Public Key Infrastructure. Boston: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2008.
Barnett, Ryan. The State of Web Security. 17 Feb 2010. 28 Nov 2011