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Network Security Threats and Solutions

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    • 1. By Colin Daly W20028223 February 2009
    • 2.
      • With an increasing amount of people getting connected to networks, the security threats that cause massive harm are increasing also.
      • Network security is a major part of a network that needs to be maintained because information is being passed between computers etc and is very vulnerable to attack.
      • Over the past five years people that manage network security have seen a massive increase of hackers and criminals creating malicious threats that have been pumped into networks across the world.(Source [1]: ITSecurity, 2007)
    • 3.
      • According to ITSecurity.com the following are ten of the biggest network threats:
      • “ 1.Viruses and Worms”,
      • “ 2.Trojan Horses”,
      • ” 3.SPAM”,
      • “ 4.Phishing”,
      • “ 5.Packet Sniffers”,
      • ” 6. Maliciously Coded Websites”,
      • ” 7. Password Attacks”,
      • “ 8.Hardware Loss and Residual Data Fragments”,
      • “ 9. Shared Computers”,
      • “ 10.Zombie Computers and Botnets” (ITSecurity [2], 2007)
    • 4.
      • A Virus is a “program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes (Webopedia [3], 2007)”.
      • Viruses can cause a huge amount of damage to computers.
      • An example of a virus would be if you opened an email and a malicious piece of code was downloaded onto your computer causing your computer to freeze.
    • 5.
      • In relation to a network, if a virus is downloaded then all the computers in the network would be affected because the virus would make copies of itself and spread itself across networks (Source [4]: Trendmicro.com, 2008).
      • A worm is similar to a virus but a worm can run itself whereas a virus needs a host program to run. (Source [5]: TechFAQ, 2008)
      • Solution: Install a security suite, such as Kaspersky Total Protection, that protects the computer against threats such as viruses and worms.
    • 6.
      • A Trojan Horse is “a program in which malicious or harmful code is contained inside apparently harmless programming or data in such a way that it can get control and do its chosen form of damage, such as ruining the file allocation table on your hard disk. (SearchSecurity.com [6], 2004)”
      • In a network if a Trojan Horse is installed on a computer and tampers with the file allocation table it could cause a massive amount of damage to all computers of that network.
      • Solution: Security suites, such as Norton Internet Security, will prevent you from downloading Trojan Horses (Source: Symantec [7], 2007).
    • 7.
      • SPAM is “flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. (Spam.abuse.net [7], 2009)”.
      • I believe that SPAM wouldn’t be the biggest risk to a network because even though it may get annoying and plentiful it still doesn’t destroy any physical elements of the network.
      • Solution: SPAM filters are an effective way to stop SPAM, these filters come with most of the e-mail providers online. Also you can buy a variety of SPAM filters that work effectively.
    • 8.
      • Phishing is “an e-mail fraud method in which the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking emails in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients. (SearchSecurity.com [9], 2003)”
      • In my opinion phishing is one of the worst security threats over a network because a lot of people that use computers linked up to a network are amateurs and would be very vulnerable to giving out information that could cause situations such as theft of money or identity theft.
      • Solution: Similar to SPAM use Phishing filters to filter out this unwanted mail and to prevent threat.
    • 9.
      • “ A packet sniffer is a device or program that allows eavesdropping on traffic travelling between networked computers. The packet sniffer will capture data that is addressed to other machines, saving it for later analysis. (Wisegeek.com [10], 2009)”
      • In a network a packet sniffer can filter out personal information and this can lead to areas such as identity theft so this is a major security threat to a network.
      • Solution: “When strong encryption is used, all packets are unreadable to any but the destination address, making packet sniffers useless. (Wisegeek.com [11], 2009)” So one solution is to obtain strong encryption.
    • 10.
      • Some websites across the net contain code that is malicious.
      • Malicious code is “Programming code that is capable of causing harm to availability, integrity of code or data, or confidentiality in a computer system… (Answers.com [12], 2009)”
      • AVG report that “300,000 infected sites appear per day (PC Advisor [13], 2009)”
      • Solution: Using a security suite, such as AVG, can detect infected sites and try to prevent the user from entering the site.
    • 11.
      • Password attacks are attacks by hackers that are able to determine passwords or find passwords to different protected electronic areas.
      • Many systems on a network are password protected and hence it would be easy for a hacker to hack into the systems and steal data.
      • This may be the easiest way to obtain private information because you are able to get software online that obtains the password for you.
      • Solution: At present there is no software that prevents password attacks.
    • 12.
      • Hardware loss and residual data fragments are a growing worry for companies, governments etc.
      • An example this is if a number of laptops get stolen from a bank that have client details on them, this would enable the thief’s to get personal information from clients and maybe steal the clients identities.
      • This is a growing concern and as of present the only solution is to keep data and hardware under strict surveillance.
    • 13.
      • Shared computers are always a threat.
      • Shared computers involve sharing a computer with one or more people.
      • The following are a series of tips to follow when sharing computers: “Do not check the “Remember my ID on this computer” box … Never leave a computer unattended while signed-in … Always sign out completely … Clear the browsers cache … Keep an eye out for “shoulder surfers” … Avoid confidential transactions … Be wary of spyware … Never save passwords … Change your password often (security.yahoo.com [14], 2009)”
    • 14.
      • “ A zombie computer, or “drone” is a computer that has been secretly compromised by hacking tools which allow a third party to control the computer and its resources remotely. (WiseGeek.com [15], 2009)”
      • A hacker could hack into a computer and control the computer and obtain data.
      • Solution: Antivirus software can help prevent zombie computers.
    • 15.
      • A botnet “is a number of Internet computers that, although their owners are unaware of it, have been set up to forward transmissions (including spam or viruses) to other computers on the internet. (SearchSecurity.com [16], 2004)”.
      • This is a major security threat on a network because the network, unknown to anyone, could be acting as a hub that forwards malicious files etc to other computers.
      • Solution: Network Intrusion Prevention (NIP) systems can help prevent botnets (Source: SearchSecurity.com [17], 2009).
    • 16.
      • Network Security is a very broad field and being a Network Security manager is not an easy job.
      • There are still threats such as password attacks that have no prevention.
      • Many of the threats set out to get personal information.
    • 17.
      • [1] ITSecurity. (2007) Network Security Threats for SMBs. Available at: http://www.itsecurity.com/features/network-security-threats-011707/ (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [2] ITSecurity. (2007) Network Security Threats for SMBs. Available at: http://www.itsecurity.com/features/network-security-threats-011707/ (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [3] Webopedia. (2007) Virus. Available at: http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/v/virus.html (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [4] Trend Micro. (2008) Network viruses . Available at: http://us.trendmicro.com/us/threats/enterprise/glossary/n/network-viruses/index.php (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [5] TechFAQ. (2008) What is a Computer Worm? Available at: http://www.tech-faq.com/computer-worm-virus.shtml (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [6] Search Security. (2004) Trojan horse. Available at: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid14_gci213221,00.html (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
    • 18.
      • [7] Symantec. (2007) Trojan Horse. Available at: http://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2004-021914-2822-99 (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [8] Spam.abuse.net (2009) What is spam? Available at: http://spam.abuse.net/overview/whatisspam.shtml (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [9] Search Security. (2003) phishing. Available at: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid14_gci916037,00.html (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [10] Wise Geek. (2009) What is a Packet Sniffer? Available at: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-packet-sniffer.htm (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [11] Wise Geek. (2009) What is a Packet Sniffer? Available at: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-packet-sniffer.htm (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [12] Answers.com (2009) malicious code. Available at: http://www.answers.com/topic/malicious-code (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
    • 19.
      • [13]PC Advisor. (2009) Websites hosting malicious code on the up. Available at: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?newsid=110102 (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [14] Yahoo Security Center. (2009) Using shared computers. Available at: http://security.yahoo.com/article.html?aid=2006102604 (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [15] Wise Geek. (2009) What is a Zombie Computer? Available at: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-zombie-computer.htm (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [16] Search Security. (2004) botnet. Available at: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid14_gci1030284,00.html (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).
      • [17] Search Security. (2009) Network Intrusion Prevention (IPS) . Available at: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/topics/0,295493,sid14_tax299840,00.html (Accessed: 11 th February 2009).