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What is computer security?
According to www.cert.org, Computer Security is the process of preventing and detecting unauthorized use of your computer. It involves the process of safeguarding against intruders from using your computer resources for malicious intents or for their own gains (or even gaining access to them accidentally).
Computer security is a branch of Information Security and is often used interchangeably with the term. It encompasses several security measures such as software programs like anti-virus suites, firewalls, and user dependant measures such as activating deactivating certain software features like Java scripts, ActiveX and being vigilant in using the computer and the network resources or the Internet.
Computer Security is concerned with four main areas:
1. Confidentiality:- Only authorized users can access the data resources and information.
2. Integrity:- Only authorized users should be able to modify the data when needed.
3. Availability:- Data should be available to users when needed.
4. Authentication:- are you really communicating with whom you think you are communicating with
Why is computer security so important?
Prevention of data theft such as bank account numbers, credit card information, passwords, work related documents or sheets, etc. is essential in today’s communications since many of our day to day actions depend on the security of the data paths.
Data present in a computer can also be misused by unauthorized intrusions. An intruder can modify and change the program source codes and can also use your pictures or email accounts to create derogatory content such as pornographic images, fake misleading and offensive social accounts.
Malicious intents can also be a factor in computer security. Intruders often use your computers for attacking other computers or websites or networks for creating havoc. Vengeful hackers might crash someone’s computer system to create data loss. DDOS attacks can be made to prevent access to websites by crashing the server.
Above factors imply that your data should remain safe and confidential. Therefore, it is necessary to protect your computer and hence the need for Computer Security arises.
Deterrents to maintaining safety and measures that can be taken to prevent intrusion:-
The most widely used attacks against a computer system are Trojans/trapdoors, worms, social networking and eavesdropping (aka man-in-the-middle attack.) Also popular are DoS/DDoS attacks, which can be used to disrupt services. Often insiders i.e. authorized users are generally directly involved in data theft and misuse too. If proper measures are taken such attacks can largely be prevented (e.g. through different levels of access, or by limiting physical access).
Measures include installing legally purchased software, as they are generally free from such Trojans or viruses, using good anti-virus solutions with properly defined system rules. Hardware and software firewalls help in blocking unauthorized users from accessing your computer. Using a large complex password comprising of several special characters, numbers and alphabets helps in making it largely impossible for a hacker to crack your account easily. Also being careful against social engineering to get your details can help. There have been many such examples of such lapses on user side in which they reveal their passwords to strangers or log on to important sites from unsafe computers resulting in data theft or loss.
Cryptography (especially encryption) plays an important role in keeping our sensitive information safe and secret. (For further information, check my presentation slides.)
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