The rapid proliferation of computing and information technologies has led to major transformation in the way people interact, communicate and receive information. Internet security is a broad concept which refers to the various steps that are taken by individuals and companies to protect their computers and computer networks that are connected on the internet. The reason why internet security is important when it comes to information technology since the internet itself is not a secure environment. The internet was originally conceived as an open and loosely linked network that was meant to facilitate free and faster exchange of ideas and information. Data sent through internet, whether it is an email or financial transactions, travels through networks and series of computers. Thus, this provides an avenue for unscrupulous hackers and criminals to intercept and change information. The current nature of internet technologies makes it virtually impossible to secure data that goes through and hence internet security will always be a key source of concern to current and future information technologies. It is forecasted that the future of computer technology will continue to face numerous security related challenges.
Common Internet Security problems
Increased use of the internet in the recent past has led to a witnessed increase in the number of security breaches in businesses and other organizations. Date indicates that at one time, almost 80% of these security breaches are attributed to people from inside the companies. However, changes brought about by networking in the business environment have made the businesses more vulnerable to attack from outside with statistics showing that over 95% of organizations that experience security breaches are not aware and very few even report the breaches when they notice them (Sharp, 2007). Thus, it is imperative for businesses to recognize these threats and develop appropriate measures to counter them. Measures to protect the internet can be in either hardware or software in nature, while others include providing training on security strategies.
There are various security problems that are faced by individuals, businesses and organizations that rely on the internet. Viruses and malicious programmes are some of the biggest threats to internet security. The viruses are introduced in the networks where the coding of programmes and hence making them unusable. Others destroy data. Hackers use several ways to infiltrate computer networks some of them include trying to find a way to enter the systems and then change or steal information and also try to over-whelm the computer system with external information so that it shuts down. Apart from viruses, other ways through which the internet security can be breached include the use of Trojan horses, spyware and worms. Another common internet problem has to do with internet fraud. This has increased in the recent past as a result of many people using the internet to make online transactions. Digital avenues like use of credit cards, electronic funds transfer and other online payments have become more popular and many people are using them because of their convenience (Taylor et al, 2006). However, in the same instance, there will be a witnessed increase in fraudulent activities as many criminals seek to take advantage of the popularity of these methods to steal from unsuspecting people. Given the current experiences and trends in e-commerce, on-line trading and a virtual buffet of other financial schemes, coupled with the growth of personal computing, this kind of internet security breach continues to affect many people. A recent survey supports this assertion since it established that 60% businesses cited online fraud as a serious problem (Rhee, 2007). Law enforcement agencies are having a big challenge enforcing laws on internet as a result of the complexities involved in investigation and prosecutions.
Types of Internet Security
The proliferation of internet security breaches has prompted computer security experts to come up with means through which computer networks can be protected against security breaches. Development of antivirus softwares is one way of protecting computer networks against attack. Furthermore, many emerging viruses are updated online by software companies and caution given to consumers on how to avoid being infected. Companies have also realized the importance of backing up data to cushion themselves against any data loss as a result of virus attacks.
Firewalls are also being used to provide effective protection of computer networks form access that is not authorized. The firewall functions just like a web server whereby it not only directs the flow of internet data, it also ensures that unauthorised users are blocked from accessing the computer network. Encryption is also another method that is used to prevent third parties from having access to information flowing through the networks. These programmes usually convert data into a scrambled which makes it impossible to be read without a key. Other security measures include use of passwords to prevent unauthorized access, while some organizations use more complex authentication technologies like coded identification cards, voice recognition softwares and systems that recognize hand prints. Tracking of computer usage through digital signatures is also used to hold users accountable and ensure that origin of documents is tracked to avoid outcomes like email spoofing (Thomas, 2009).
Nonetheless, organizations are appreciating the fact that effective internet security is not just about hardware and software. They have appreciated the role security policies and procedures play in protecting the internet. Many organizations have put in place security measures that are meant to regulate internet activity both at the user level and the administrator level. The role of education on the importance of computer security is highly being emphasized. For example, when it comes to passwords, using complex characters and avoidance of obvious words is advised. Safe storage of passwords is encouraged and generally being responsible when it comes to the information they are entrusted to keep. System administrators have a big role putting in place mechanisms to ensure that the systems are secure and safe from unauthorized and malicious intrusion.
The rapid proliferation of computers has continued to bring with it security challenges. Currently, the internet has become part and parcel of everyday life ranging from commerce, entertainment, education and the whole economy in general. As these security challenges become apparent, internet companies are trying to catch through provision of strategies aimed at minimizing security threats. However, internet security can only succeed through concerted and multifaceted efforts involving the users and computer experts and law enforcement officers since ensuring the internet security is the responsibility of everyone.
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