Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Technologies That Cybercriminals Love The Most

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As technologies and the Internet evolves, we tend to get used to it. We become so much addicted that we forget some of the most basic yet important premises - Security. Our own security while using these services... We are increasingly using technology to get our work done online, communicate with others, and take advantage of all the Internet-based entertainment that’s available today. But many of those same technologies have also made it easier for cybercriminals — the bad guys who use the Internet for illegal purposes — to do their dirty deeds. The hackers, terrorists, scamsters, and other criminal types are scouting for "such" vulnerable spots to hide and get their work done... Let's look at the technologies most preferred by these hackers / illegal elements...

1. Broadband connectivity (most preferred!)
Broadband has many advantages for users, including high speed at relatively low cost and the "always-on" nature that eliminates the need to log onto the ISP each time you want to access Internet resources. But those same characteristics also make it the perfect technology for exploitation by hackers and attackers. Having your computer connected to the Always On Internet means the cybercriminals have a sure chance to gain access and steal your data, or more seriously, use your Internet connection for illegal activities, on your behalf, behind your knowledge!
2. Wi-fi networking
With increasing frequency, both home and business networks are connected by wireless technologies instead of Ethernet cables, and wi-fi hotspots proliferate in public places such as coffee shops, airports, hotels, and city parks. Wi-fi offers maximum convenience because you can move around and stay connected, but it also makes it more convenient for a criminal to get onto your network and into your system without your even knowing, since anyone with a wireless-enabled laptop within range can intercept the signals. Unlike their older counterparts, new wireless access devices use encryption by default—but you need to check and ensure that yours uses the more secure encryption. For more information about wi-fi security, see http://www.wardrive.net.
3. Removable media
Floppy drives have been almost entirely replaced by CD/DVD readers/writers, flash card readers, and USB drives, but whatever the form, cybercriminals love removable media. If they can get physical access to a computer, they can quickly and easily copy files and remove them, often with no one the wiser. Removable media also pose a security risk because it’s easy to lose discs, thumb drives, flash cards, and the like.
You can use Group Policy in Vista or edit the registry in XP to disable use of USB devices. Refer
http://www.lumension.com/usb_security.jsp to know more about USB Security. You can also encrypt the data on removable media and still work with them on different machines...

4. The Web
The Web is still a favorite of cybercriminals because almost everyone who connects to the Internet uses a Web browser. The main problem is that attackers can use browser capabilities, like Javascripts and Active-X controls, to run their own malicious programs on your computer. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you use a particular browser, you’re safe. All popular browsers have vulnerabilities and can be exploited. More important is the browser’s settings. If you disable Javascript and Active-X for most sites, you’ll make it more difficult for attackers to get to your computer through your browser (but you may also not be able to properly view some sites). It’s also important to install security updates for your browser as they’re released.
5. Unified communications (UC)
UC is a popular trend in the enterprise space, and companies are finding many advantages in combining their e-mail, telephony, IM, and conferencing applications so that these programs can interact with each other. With VoIP slowly replacing traditional telephone services, all these communications technologies can be run over the same network. However, this also means that now your phone calls are subject to some of the same threats to which your data has always been vulnerable. For more about UC security threats, see http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security/?p=406.

6. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) programs
The most popular means of exchanging large files quickly across the Internet is through the use of P2P software and networks, such as BitTorrent, KaZaA, Gnutella, and Napster. People use them to share music and movies in violation of copyright laws, but also for legitimate purposes, such as distributing their own home movies and pictures. The number of songs swapped via P2P networks is estimated to be in the billions per year. Criminals love P2P networks because they can mislabel the files they share and cause you to download malicious software when you think you’re downloading a song. Most of these networks also strive to protect the anonymity of users, so the bad guys have little risk of being caught. The best way to protect yourself from the dangers of using P2P applications is not to use them at all.
7. Mobile computing
Because of their mobility, PDA phones & laptops can easily be lost or stolen — and so does the data stored in them. If the device contains your personal information, you could be subject to identity theft. If it contains client information for your company, you could put those clients at risk and possibly put your company in violation of regulatory compliance requirements. Luckily, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from these threats. Many portable computers today come with built in TPMs (Trusted Platform Modules), which are hardware-based cryptography chips that work with software technologies such as Microsoft’s BitLocker to encrypt the drive and prevent a thief from being able to log on or access any of the files. More and more laptops also include fingerprint recognition software and other extra security measures. You can also install tracking software that will cause the laptop to "phone home" when connected to the Internet if you fail to enter the correct password.
Many PDA phones provide for password protection and you can buy third-party programs to encrypt data on the phone. The latest versions of Windows Mobile allow you to encrypt the information on the storage card without a third-party program, and you can also remotely wipe the device and card.
There are yet another technologies that cybercriminals love:
a. E-mail and instant messaging
b. E-commerce and online banking
c. Universal connectivity


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