Computer security is a division of computer technology concerned with the protection and safety of a computer, and its digital components, including its operating system, software, and data.
This term is also referred to as a branch of the computer that deals with digital information security.
During the years following the inception of computers, computer security was not a significant problem.
The first generation, second and third-generation computers of that era were large and bulky and were often placed in particular premises designed for these machines.
The only threat they faced was a natural disaster like fire or earthquake, or power disruption.
During that era, computer security was limited to providing those machines with adequate resources for operation and a proper and synchronized environment.
After the invention of transistors and microchips, the size of the computer started to reduce dramatically along with the costs of developing and operating. A laptop that once needed an entire room for its operation now could be used from a desk.
This evolution exposed computers to a whole new variety of threats. The theft of confidential information and even the entire system was the primary concern, so security measures and standard operating procedures were adopted to secure the computers from these emerging threats. But these threats were conventional and could be guarded by implementing security measures like secure premises and personnel who would ensure the system’s security.
But with the launch of ARPANET in the 1970s and the opening of this network for the public sector in the 1980s, the whole scenario changed. In the 1990s, World Wide service was introduced by CERN, and by the end of that decade, usage of the internet became a phenomenon and a familiar place.
During this development, the internet accommodated all the previously operating networks forming a giant internetwork of networks. The involvement of the public sector helped internet users grow by almost 50% in the decade, and by the end of that century, virtually any user be it a domestic user with his personal desktop computer or an organization, was part of the internet. According to an estimate, the population of internet users in 2010 was 1.97 billion.
These dramatic and spectacular developments in computer technology brought threats to computers that it never faced before in their history. These threats were not only for the home users but for the offices and organizations. The severity of these threats was colossal.
Industrial espionage became the ultimate nightmare for software companies and organizations. To cope with these new challenges, there was a need to revamp computer security. The threat became so intense and severe that when a computer is turned on and connected to the internet and the first attack is underway was estimated to be less than 10 minutes.
Today the internet is plagued with millions of such users who leave no chance of causing harm to someone’s computer and breaching their privacy, stealing valuable private information, and using their laptop for crimes.
Due to these emerging and dynamic threats, the governments and corporate sector bonded together to enhance security and protect their valuable assets. Still, an ever-growing industry, the domestic users of the internet were left alone to cope with the alarming situation.
Private companies started making billions of dollars by developing and selling internet security programs, antivirus programs, and anti-spyware, but as we can see, the issue is still unresolved. We, the domestic users of computers and governments and corporations, are as insecure and vulnerable as we were before.
To address this drastic situation, we have categorized the threats that computers face into two major categories. We will also suggest measures that will help us secure our vital assets from these threats.
Computer security threats are categorized into two main classes based on their nature.
2. Malicious events
Accidental threats are caused by natural disasters like fire, earthquakes, floods, and other natural calamities. These kinds of threats are directed toward the physical structure of a computer system or an individual computer system. By following standard rules and implementing proper data backup techniques, we can protect our computers and data from these threats.
This category contains the direst and most critical threat to computers. Threats under this category are innumerable, and it is tough to categorize all these dynamic threats under one class. Some of the major threats of this kind are:
2. Malicious software
5. Denial of Service Attacks
Now let us discuss these computer security threats and see what measures could be taken to protect our computers from these threats.
Hacking is the mechanism of gaining control of one’s computer or website and then reengineering or reprogramming it to function in a way not facilitated by its legal owner. Computer users from all categories like domestic, corporate sector, government, and organizations face this threat. Hacking is also a threat to websites.
To hack a computer, the hacker would send you malicious code in the form of an attachment or a software personating helpful something for you. Upon downloading, this code or program would install itself in the victimized machine and transfer all or partial control to the hacker.
This person is then enabled to reprogram that machine, steal valuable information like credit card numbers and gain personal information. Hacking a website is a bit different. Popular methods to hack a website are:
1. SQL Injection
2. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
3. Authorization Bypass
4. Password Cracking
5. Using Key loggers
We can protect our computers from hackers by using good quality and state-of-the-art antivirus and internet security programs. Firewalls also help us from intruders. We should also be cautious in downloading attachments and programs for our computer and should verify the publisher of that software before downloading it to our computer.
Malicious software is a program or piece of code written to disrupt the standard functionality of a computer system. This malicious software, in turn, can handle the control of our machine to prospective hackers. Malicious software is further categorized in the following classes.
* Trojans (What is a trojan?)
* Adware (What is adware?)
We can protect our computers from malicious programs using modern antivirus programs; some computer security recommendations are bit defender antivirus, Kaspersky antivirus, Norton Antivirus, and webroot antivirus.
Spywares are programs that secretly monitor and record a computer user’s activities, make a log file of all these activities, and record passwords, email ids, PINs, and other confidential information. These spyware programs then can send this information to someone sitting hundreds of miles away. These programs are hard to detect as they often work in stealth mode.
We can download or purchase an excellent anti-spyware program to protect our computers from spyware. Modern and reasonable antivirus solutions like Norton and Bit defenders have anti-spyware programs. You don’t need to buy another anti-spyware program while using one of these. Stand-alone anti-spyware programs are also available.
Eavesdropping is the process of secretly listening to or recording communication between your computer and a remote server. Computers could be protected from eavesdropping by using strong encryption techniques and secure procedures to communicate with servers like SSL.
Denial Of Service Attacks:
Denial of service or DDoS, Distributed Denial of Service attacks are targeted against websites. The mechanism of these attacks is that the prospective hacker first creates a pool of computers by sending malicious code. Upon installation, the computer becomes the part of that pool, then he sends requests from these computers, all of them, to the server, and ultimately, the server is knocked off due to excessive requests.
Rootkits are specially written programs that conceal malicious software activities like viruses and spyware. These programs are tough to locate and remove, and you need a perfect and quality antivirus solution to detect and remove rootkits. Among the recommendations are again Bit defender and Norton Antivirus.