In the Internet age there is a need for sound practices that involve protecting your information in your computer by preventing, detecting, and responding to attacks.
The application of computer and Internet has spread its tentacles to every segment of our daily life. Education, business, industry, entertainment, medicine, travel, communication, or any other activity stands linked to the cyber world one way or the other.
Consequently even critical information on individuals and institutions are often stored in the digital form. A computer that stands connected to the Internet is open to access by clever hackers. Our vital information may be misused by them. Our bank deposits may be stolen by accessing our passwords and the details of our accounts. The trade secrets or proprietary information of an industry may be taken by an unscrupulous competitor and misused. The consequences of our secrets of national defence if drawn by our enemies are terrible. We should keep in mind that the tremendous convenience offered by the cyber world carries along with it serious risks as well.
We should necessarily adopt measures to protect our information in foolproof styles. If we have some highly confidential information, it is a good idea to keep it in digital form in a computer system that cannot be accessed through the net. Further, a password may be used to prevent accessing of the contents by unauthorised persons.
Cyber security involves protecting your information by preventing, detecting, and responding to attacks. You should protect information against unauthorised disclosure, transfer, modification, or destruction - whether accidental or deliberate.
You cannot overlook the fact that when your computer stands connected to a network, it communicates with other computers. Unless you shield your machine appropriately, you may lose your information. The attitude ‘Oh, it won't happen to me' may prove to be wrong. You may have to pay a heavy price for complacency. You should guard against identity theft when sensitive information is stored on computers linked to the Internet. There is a need for reliable Information Assurance (Operations that protect and defend information and information systems by ensuring their availability, integrity, and authentication; practice of managing risks related to the use, processing, storage, and transmission of information.)
Apart from unwanted leakage of information, there is the possibility of your computer system getting infected by viruses that may alter or erase your data, or transmit them automatically to all the e-mail addresses
recorded in your system. You should adopt precautions to prevent such disasters.
Hackers who look for vulnerable systems may attack your computers. Your computer may get infected when
you open an email from an unknown source.
You should not open any attachment in an email from a stranger. In case of doubt about any attachment
received by mail, scan it before opening.
Anti-virus software that alerts the arrival of an infected email or even deletes it automatically is available in the market.
Sometimes your computer may get infected if you visit certain undesirable web sites. Indeed, there are ways of blocking such sites.
There are two related terms malware and virus. There is a distinction. A malware (malicious software) is software developed for the purpose of causing harm to a computer system.
But a virus is a programme that can copy itself or infect a computer without the consent or permission of the owner. A virus can reproduce itself, and spread to other computer systems.
Sometimes you may receive an email that promises some software that would make your computer work faster or downloads easier.
Be wary of such messages; it may be a ruse to distribute viruses. Then there is the spyware which is a kind of programme that can be installed in a computer in order to steal a user's information, including his/her surfing habits. The spyware is secretly installed with malicious motives.
You have to protect your computer from this kind of threat as well.
People often enjoy publishing personal or even proprietary information on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Orkut, or blogs on the net without forethought. Once it is in the public domain, it could be accessed by anyone including online crooks. Even if you withdraw the published information at a later date when wisdom dawns on you, the information would have already been gathered by others who may misuse it. How many of us remember that putting our email id on the net is an invitation for spam? Publish in haste and regret at leisure.
You should be on your guard against phishing, which is the criminal attempt to acquire sensitive personal
information such as passwords, bank account numbers, or credit card details.
The sender of the mail would pose as a trustworthy source like your bank authorities or a government agency like the tax department.
He may ask for several details making the request look as genuine for official processing. Never respond to such mail. If you feel that the message is authentic, do contact the company / organisation directly to confirm the veracity of the request.
Organisations will do well to study well the cyber crime history if any of recruits before they are appointed.
Periodical training of employees on the latest trends in cyber security will save organisations from untoward information disasters.
Network security practices often rely too heavily on the basic network firewall, which may not be adequate to ensure protection against Internet-related threats and attacks. Business enterprises without up-to-date network protective devices face significant risks.
This underlines the need for sound practices in intrusion detection and prevention.