Networking has played a vital part in the transfer of information as well as the accessibility of information that was never available to previous generations with the rapid increase of internet-connected devices.
Along with the benefits of computing devices being connected to one another for information sharing, online shopping and many other helpful tasks, there is also a real threat present. This is termed under the overarching “Network Security” realm of topics.
Network security is as important as the networks themselves and this is only made abundantly clear by the amount of threats, hacks and cyber attacks that occur on a daily basis all around the globe.
Among the tens of different types of attacks that are common in our day and age as we know it, we will examine the ones that are particularly pressing in the area of “networked systems”.
Perhaps the most well-known one is called a virus (often termed as malware). They can have different descriptions depending on their classification and diagnosis, but they are usually malicious pieces of software that have found their way onto a “victim’s” computer system – usually by means of arriving via a networked system that is not secured with an up to date AntiVirus software package. They tend to corrupt files and delete portions of other files or storage media to cause damage to a victim’s system.
Trojans or Trojan Horses are another type of “malware” that is often disguised as legitimate software. As the popular Antivirus company “Kaspersky” says: “Trojans can be employed by cyber-thieves and hackers trying to gain access to users’ systems”. Spyware often does a very similar thing and is used to retrieve information from a victim’s computer and report back information such as “entered credit card numbers” back to an server hosted online that collects the information for malicious activity later on.
Phishing is “the act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.”
Potentially one of the most advanced types of malware is the “worm” which spreads itself across as many devices as possible in order to collect information from numerous sources or install host applications to be controlled at a later date. Important examples of this is the popular “botnet” which is used to place strategic attacks against web servers owned and run by large websites and corporations in order to carry out sophisticated attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDOS).
DDOS attacks are operated to flood a web server’s inbound traffic with illegitimate visitor traffic and use up all system resources, often causing the affected systems to start swapping to disc and lagging profusing, often even being disconnected entirely from the networks. In many instances this takes the website (referred to as the “target host”) offline for large periods of time until the attack stops, the servers are rebooted or security measures are put in place in front of the servers to thwart such attacks. This security measure is often done by means of proxy servers, anycast networks, F5 load balancers, static caching varnish servers or security modules such as Apache’s mod_security which work by limiting the amount of connections in a particular period of time by their IP traffic (rate limiting).
There are many types of security threats that target hosted servers (web servers, database servers, etc). Some examples of these are
Cross Site Scripting (
SQLInjection. These threats should always be tested against during the development phase of both the code development as well as the infrastructure creation.
With all these threats available and targeting more and more types of devices and operating systems, it is very important to have an antivirus installed that is up to date as well as a firewall to prevent unsolicited sources from accessing your important files and data.
Networking has opened by a new world for both information-hungry individuals as well as cybersecurity and cybercriminals. It is important to realise that there are different types of “hackers” and they are not all negative – as they often portrayed in the news and other media.
Hackers often provide the foundation for innovation as well as securing private information better as technology evolves if they work with us instead of against us.