The Internet is a reality created by the Human Mind. Today everything ranging from jobs to shopping can be done in front of a computer screen on the Internet. It is coming to the point where we will hardly need to leave our homes to attend to our day- to- day activities. If you can stretch your imagination a bit, we may live in a world where you can place an order on the internet and the lunch packet or medicine may be delivered to your house by a robot.
If you want entertainment just place an order on the internet and the DVD will be delivered to your house by a robot. The internet is the link between human needs and machines.
Human labour may be replaced to a greater degree by machines. And the internet can help facilitate this.The internet is a world which is being built on top of the world that we know.
However this perfect world can be disrupted by the ever present threat of crime. Crime will completely take on Digital and Binary form. Crime has now become bloodless and more dangerous than ever before. We may soon live in an age where crime will be committed wholly by weapons taking the form of the Personal Computer and Viruses. And the defense against this Cyber Crime is what is known as Internet Security.
This Daily News journalist took the cyber route when doing this article proving how effective the internet really is!
Daily News spoke to Principal Consultant - Project Manager John Keells Holdings Strategic Group Information Technology Buddhike Perera to gain some insights into Internet Security.
A commercial value
“Hacking is the practice of modifying the features of a system, in order to accomplish a goal outside of the creator’s original purpose. The person, who is consistently engaging in hacking activities, has accepted hacking as a lifestyle and philosophy of their choice.
Hackers have different flavours of interest areas based on the end objectives, some go after intelligence information, hacking into military sites. Some are interested in stealing financial information by hacking into corporate and state banks, even stock markets. But some are even interested in hacking into travel sites, air line sites, to gain miles, reward points, and elite status. They are looking for every possible way to game the system for as much free travel as they can.
Hacking depends on the complexity and the importance of the target or the victims. And the worst part is Cyber Hacking has become the new cold war between the elite nations across this planet,” said Perera.
The big question is how do these tricksters hack without knowing passwords?
“These can range from poor password protection to leaving a computer turned on which is physically accessible to visitors to the office. But if you look at this from a different angle they have to inject some code or a programme in to the target computer to gain digital access. If I explain this another way, injecting a programme into a computer cracks the internal passwords and will gain access to the computer. Most hackers use programmes, tools available in internet to crack into computer systems, but these tools are complex in nature.
While no computer networks are impenetrable and devote significant resources to guard their computer networks, they also have in place rules to protect sensitive data.
No matter how strong your perimeter is, still you are vulnerable for such mass scale attacks on sophisticated networks. One recent incident reported in the U.S. that Chinese hackers are believed to have stolen the designs for more than two dozen major weapons systems, potentially weakening the U.S. military advantage over China,” he further added.
Whistle blower Edward Snowden’s recent revelations of the federal government’s massive and intrusive surveillance of Americans have shown that major Internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have not only been compliant with the surveillance programmes, but have themselves violated the privacy of their users. All the social network sites would like to know as much as possible about our hobbies and shopping habits because the information has a commercial value and they will sell these information to others.
A contract killer
Computer viruses are growing so rapidly with the phase of technology reshaping over day by day. Viruses which were deadly last year are no longer a threat but there are new sets of viruses taking the lead in damaging digital information.
“A computer virus is just like any other piece of software; written by programmers. It is what they are programmed to do that makes them harmful (falling under the banner of malicious software, or malware for short; a ‘virus’ specifically is a piece of malware that ‘self-replicates’ (and may even ‘mutate’; change the way it works in order to fool anti-virus software), or in other words, copies itself to as many other PCs as it can via USB drives, networks and the internet.
If a target system is very strongly protected and difficult to access remotely, a Hacker might employ low-technology attacks. These tactics may include bribing an authorized user, taking a temporary job with a janitorial services firm, or dumpster diving (rifling through trash in search of information). If the target system is not so strongly protected, then a hacker can use technical exploits to gain access.”
“Being a hacker is like a contract killer to me. For monitory or any other means they steal and disrupt civil society. They are risk takers in life and they are always keeping their neck in the firing line if they get caught by the law. Someone who hacks into another person’s computer could be punished by a number of different laws, depending on the circumstances. The law punishes hacking under the computer crime statutes. These crimes carry penalties ranging from a prison sentence, or larger sum of monitory fines are the common types,” said Perera.
Two - way security
Hacking tools are developed by some really good coders out there to ease out many complex tasks which have to be done manually and take painstakingly great deal of time and effort. Loads of free hacking tools are available on internet. Some of these tools are Nessus Remote Security Scanne , Wireshark, Nmap, NetStumbler. But there are thousands of tools available in internet for hackers.
“Computer viruses can do anything from erasing every single thing stored on your hard drive, to hijacking your hard drive and using the internet to download and upload any number of things. Losing personal information, in my opinion, is usually the worst thing that can happen. People don’t realise that some of these things will get a hold of your usernames and passwords and use those as well.
The best way to protect your digital information is to know the threats and to take precautions like using a good commercial virus guard and keep it up to date, avoid downloading digital information from untrusted or illegal sites which can have virus injected into their information.” explained Perera.
Daily News also spoke to two young internet users concerning their experiences when it comes to hacking.
Sameera (Real Name Withheld as Requested)
“Two times my computer had to be formatted due to viruses like Trojan Horse.
My email had been hacked and I had got some porn photos of girls of Thailand. I made another email account in Gmail as a result of that.
Some of my friends have more or less faced the same situation. Some installed virus guards and some formatted their computer and reinstalled the programmes and necessary soft wares
Very recently I got to know a person in a paper article who was able to hack the creator of Facebook.
Hackers come in all types. Some might want to see how far they have improved themselves as computer geniuses, some may like to poke into others’ affairs. Some might be really crazy who just want to waste time being on the net for hours and hours.
Precautions you can take against hacking are to protect personal details only in sites that have the key symbol or the locker symbol.”
Gihani (Real Name Withheld as Requested)
“On Facebook I use maximum privacy settings. Even when I blog on Blogger, I keep my privacy as maximum as possible. I use Ubuntu, which is much more secure than Windows regarding viruses. There is no need for anti-virus software. Once my email account was hacked at my workplace but no serious damage was done.
Some people I knew were phished on Facebook and all their Facebook messages were publicly disclosed. Most hackers do it just for fun. There are many courses on hacking, making hacking pretty easy. When it comes to application, most people use it because it gives them a feeling of power over others. I use two-way security on my Facebook and Google accounts.”