Cat Techie

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cyber Terror

The changing face of security threats must be understood by enterprises and consumers alike. We delve into the new risks they pose, just how vulnerable you are, and what can you do about it; along with useful advice for CIOs on enterprise security.

The president gets five threatening emails

Credit card numbers and other personal information peddling for less than a dollar a record Information stealing Trojan poses as Microsoft Windows patch Russia filters Internet traffic from Georgia: Google Earth being misused by militants in Gaza strip to launch attacks on Israel: HSBC loses disk containing details of around 400,000 customers.News like above is enough to send shivers down anyone's spine, be it an enterprise, individual, or the govt. But alas, it's all true. Increasingly, the news headlines everywhere are getting filled with security incidents that are more focused and malicious. It's no longer about a script-kiddie breaking into an organization's server just for kicks or to hack a website just to leave a funny message there. Security incidents the world over are being committed with a very clear and malicious objective, which could be financial gain, plan for a terrorist attack, or propaganda. In other words, security threats have really changed and taken a much more gruesome shape than you could ever imagine. It will only get worse in the future, so you have to be ready for it. Today, terror is everywhere, and there's a dire need to combat it at all levels. This special story from PCQuest will focus on various aspects of security, strategies to adopt, and tools to combat it. We'll focus on different kinds of security threats for different types of audience, along with the strategies and tools to combat them. We'll look at cyber-terrorism, what it means for different people, and how to combat it.

Just how vulnerable you are

Security incidents are different for different parts of the society, so measures taken to safeguard against them also have to be different. For enterprises, security could mean protecting critical information from getting stolen or preventing a virus from causing significant downtime. For an individual, security could mean preventing loss of personal information like credit card or bank account details. For the govt, security could mean ensuring that national secrets are well-guarded, senior leaders are protected, and citizens are safe. But before you can do that, you have to first understand the nature of security threats that you're most vulnerable to.
Enterprise security trends

If you feel your IT infrastructure is safe from any kind of security breaches, well think again. That's because there's no such thing as a boundary for your organization's network anymore, thanks to the growing number of mobile users and Internet based applications. Your users will need access to your network from everywhere, be it a hotel, cyber cafe, airport, or railway station. They will access it from all sorts of networks, putting far more stress on your network than ever before.There are many more entries to watch in the organization, many more end points to secure, and a lot more sensitivity towards protecting information theft.The other key trend is that security threats are no longer being carried out by college pass-outs wanting to bring down a website or portal just for kicks. Security attacks have now become more serious, and they're being conducted by people with a criminal bent of mind for information theft, financial gain, or other malicious reasons.There is of course, more malware than ever before. In fact, the amount of malware created last year was more than the combination of all malware ever created till date. This clearly indicates that with increasing penetration of the Internet, both the good as well as bad guys have better connectivity and reach.Last key trend in enterprise security is that today the focus of security threats is not just on the infrastructure. It's also on stealing information. So organizations must go beyond setting up firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-spam software.

Consumer security trends

If you think you're safe from prying eyes on the Internet, think again. Today, there are more bank accounts, credit cards and personal information available for purchase on the Internet than ever before, and you'll be shocked at the prices they sell them for (see table on previous page). Each record could be available for less than a dollar if purchased in bulk. Premium accounts, with higher bank balance or credit limit sell at higher prices.
Email tracing of Ahmedabad blasts

How Cyberoam and their technical support team helped to trace and identify the IP Address of Waghodia Dental Institute, Vadodara after the Ahmedabad bomb blast.

1. An email is sent to IndiaTV news channel giving some information on the blasts. From the email, police was able to track the sender's IP address which is traced to some web hosting company. The web hosting company finally traced the IP Address to Waghodia Dental Institute in Vadodara.
2. A Cyberoam device is installed at the institute. The support department of the institute is told to determine the exact computer from where the mail was sent.
3. The device is able to tell which websites were surfed at the time when the mail was sent.
4. From the websites, IP addresses of the same range were matched.
5. Finally the website is identified: This was a web based proxy service that the terrorists used.
6. With the help of these reports, the IP Address of the computer from where this site was viewed is identified. Interestingly, the computer had a static IP address, and belonged to one of the institute's internal labs. 3. The police seized the computer for further investigation.

Credit card details can be stolen during online or offline transactions. Online, you might land up on a fake site, which cons you into shelving out the details. Or there could be an information stealing Trojan sitting on your machine. Offline, your credit card could get cloned at a restaurant or any other place. For instance, there are tiny credit card reading machines available, which a person could simply swipe your card on before swiping it on the actual terminal. And you thought that giving your credit card to the waiter in your favorite restaurant was safe!

Web 2.0 has been a boon for everyone, but it could become a bane if you're not careful. Just as you have access to so much information on the web, and so many social networking sites to interact on, so do the bad guys. So we all obviously know what that means! They can coordinate better and react more quickly to vulnerabilities.So while you're busy watching that YouTube video, a Trojan might be quietly be installing itself in your system, and bringing along its other friends like keyloggers, bots, etc. Rest as they say, is history.We all know the story of phishing emails pointing you to a fake website to extract your personal information. But now, things are taking a different turn. To take an example, suppose you receive an email pointing you to an 'interesting' website from where you could download some 'hot' pictures of a known celeb. But along with the picture, you end up downloading certain file infectors. These can then use your precious bandwidth to launch a deadly Denial of Service attack on other websites. So guess who'll get caught for doing this attack? You of course!Incidentally, what that means is that it's not just bank sites that are bieng faked. Any site that's not been hardened against vulnerabilities could get infected, causing you to download Trojans.

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