Principles of Computer Security

Introduction

Computer security has become an important issue for all computer and internet users be it organizations or individuals as they face the potential risk of being attacked by hackers and crackers at all times. This paper identifies the security threats home computer users and certain techniques used by attackers for accessing information on their system.

Individuals use their computers at home for almost everything. They shop, bank and even communicate using chat programs and mail servers. But doing all this requires that the individuals send their important information online which hackers steal for attacking their system to obtain other vital information, like important data, financial statements, passwords, etc. They may even use our personal computer to attack other computers in which case we are proved the criminals. Their true identity and location stay secure as they attack government offices, multinational companies and other computer systems. Simply having our computer connected online for playing games or sending emails leaves it vulnerable to hackers and crackers who can view all of our actions through a web camera or even format our hard drive and steal valuable data. (Vasireddy, 2007)

Discussion

Intruders are often able to discover vulnerabilities in our computer systems, called holes, which they can use for attacking and accessing information on our computers. Sometimes software running on our computers is so complex that their security cannot be thoroughly tested and the vendors, when complained to, simply develop patches for temporarily solving the problem. The potential security threats faced by our home personal computers concern: confidentiality, integrity and availability. Attackers use our passwords and user id’s for entering into the computer system so that they can view all our important documents. It can breech the confidentiality of our computer by tracking our investments and sending vulgar and inappropriate emails to others. (Yuan, 2008)

Some of the techniques that attackers use to access information on our system or misuse it has been given below. They can use a Trojan horse to create a backdoor through which they can access our computer and change system settings or plant a virus. They can even cause a denial of service or DOS attack where our computers crash or become busy without cause such that we cannot use it. Attackers can also install Trojans or agents in our computer which they then use to initiate DOS attacks on other computer systems. Attackers can also send viruses and worms through e-mails which infect our computer systems once we open it. IRC networks and IM applications transmit data bi-directionally through the internet and in doing so allow executable codes to be interchanged which may even be malicious to our computer systems. Other forms of attacks that malicious web developers use to access information on our computer or use it in an illegal manner include cross-site scripting, e-mail spoofing and packet sniffing. (Vasireddy, 2007)

Conclusion

Although maintaining computer security at home may seem to be a complicated task, in reality the basic theory of computer security is comparatively easy. If they follow certain simple rules, their computer can be saved from outside attacks to a certain degree. Computer users should use the firewall and virus protection software before accessing the internet. They should never open unknown e-mails or run unfamiliar programs. Finally, they should always disconnect their computer from the network or shut it down when not in use.

References

Vasireddy, R. (2007). Security posture for civilian and non-civilian networks. Bell Labs Technical Journal, 8(4), 187-202.

Yuan, S. (2008). A secure business framework for file purchasing in vehicular networks. Security and Communication Networks, 1(3), 259-268.