Internet use has become an all-encompassing force that directly affects every aspect of people’s lives. As such, there have as well been numerous attacks on its platform targeting users by unscrupulous individuals. The attackers could be under the motivation of various factors such as stealing and manipulation of data as well as other illegal transactions. With such challenges posed by internet theft, it has become significant for internet users, whether personal, organizational, or governmental to ensure security of their information and connections (Ritter, 2006). As the internet has gained foothold and become a key mode of business transactions among many, the threat of illegal access and theft has risen drastically. In addition, the fact that internet allows connection of several computers raises the threat of access from any locality.
The research paper will focus and explore the nature and magnitude of these attacks and the manner, in which security can be accorded. Again, it will spotlight the history, developments as well as vulnerabilities that the internet security has undergone over time. That will also include the review of the technology being utilized as well as the impact it has accorded the users at different levels. Further, it will define the characteristics of a secured system and clarify on the most likely threats to the platform. Furthermore, the mechanisms and protocols used to guard against attacks will as well be under review.
The initiation of internet happened in 1969 through the commissioning of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) by the United States Department of Defense. ARPANET earlier design allowed systematic distribution of data as well as access to secluded computers. Further, it facilitated speedy emailing, thus giving it success as well as popularity. However, it was not until the 1980s that the true picture of internet for all computers had become visible, as it exists today. Despite those successes, internet has faced numerous threats. Although the security timeline may date from the 1930s, it was not until the 1980s when it had become usable by the public that the crimes began to emerge. The hacker word had been coined in 1960s by several students in Massachusetts Institute of Technology but its real experience was more notable in the 1980s. In fact, such criminal activities as of stealing of data by Robert Morris led to the creation of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the year 1986. Morris was accused of releasing what became known as ‘Morris Worm’ to thousands of computers. By the 1990s, the threat had increased targeting organizational, governmental, and personal data.
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The rationale of this research is to explore the nature of internet security, it effects and the different ways, in which it can be prevented. As such, several types of security threats and implications will be explored and explained.
Methods for Data Collection
While both the qualitative and quantitative information gathering methods could be valid, the previous will be more directly utilized. That will happen based on the nature of the data since much of it will not be anticipated to be numerical. Further, to achieve this goal, there will be the use of feedback forms, interviews, as well as direct observations of the internet users.
Limitations of the Research
Despite the fact that internet security may seem understandable to many users, very few of them have the ability to determine an attack when it happens to them. As such, respondents may provide skewed or biased information unintentionally. Again, the scope of the subject is wide enough to be comprehensively covered as per the understanding of the respondents. Further, a lot of time is required for the research project. Furthermore, failure to provide a viable communication strategy may give a wrong understanding of the internet security framework.
Several studies relating to internet security have been performed. One such research work was done by Ibrahim Kaliisa and titled “Towards Excellent Internet Security Research for Developing Countries”. The paper analyzed the threat of cyber crimes to these countries and concluded better methodologies of ensuring the security were necessary. Again, the work of Wang and Huang (2011) on the other hand covered the growth and identification of online identity theft. Two articles one by Ritter (2006) and another by Perlroth (2015) focused on the hacking of internet services and what could motivate the hackers to doing so. Steinberg (2014), on his part, had concentrated on the vulnerability of the internet plat for to criminal activities and means of stopping that.
Most Affected Users
According to Ritter (2006), the age of internet insecurity has seen that most users targeted by the attackers are organizations. Although other groups too have suffered the consequences of information theft, businesses are hacked by their competitors to have undue advantage. Other hackers may include criminals who want financial rewards whether directly or indirectly. Therefore, Ritter (2015) advocates for proper mechanisms by managers to ensure that their communication and transaction platforms are well secured with no unauthorized interferences. Moreover, even within the corporation structure, senior managerial personnel have different levels of information access from other workers. That ensures that the system does not allow entry to unauthorized files by the latter, which ought to be the case for the customers as well. However, the challenge comes with the ever-growing technological knowhow with hackers improving on their skills as more protective systems are developed. Information lost by the organizations could be detrimental to their success as it would offer the competitor the leverage to outshine their projects and transactions. Other data acquired through these unscrupulous means could steal finances from the company. For these activities, the areas affected include the communication system, employee files, projects folder, and the financial records.
Types of Identity Theft
Wang and Huang (2011) observe that online crimes could be committed against an individual or institutions and based on these two fields, they could be of different types. In the case of an individual, the attacks could be in form of spyware, phishing, advanced-fee fraud, or transaction fraud. Spyware is also referred to as malware (Malicious software) and it can be illegally installed in an individual’s device to keep track on key strokes. Phishing, on the other hand, involves pursuing of private financial data with the objective of stealing from them through bogus emails, websites, and messages among other online mechanisms (Wang & Huang, 2011). Advance-fee fraud necessitates data being sent to victims by people claiming to make payments via intermediaries. On the other hand, institutional frauds include pre-texting, hacking, and advertisement fraud. Pre-texting entails acquisition of concealed information about an institution through third parties who know about them through deception. In this case, the criminals pretend to be representatives of customer services or researchers. Hacking allows the attacker to break the internet protocol of the institution’s system, providing them undue access to an organization’s records, thus stealing them (Wang & Huang, 2011). Hackers could be skewed towards bringing the company down themselves or could be paid to do so. In most cases, they may gain access through sending malware to target computers thus interrupting communication system.
Approach to Internet Security
To fight internet insecurity successfully, collaborative mechanisms should be enhanced. That would mean implementation of five vital elements. First, there ought to be fostering as well as protection of opportunities. Without people’s confidence, the internet platform is useless. Secondly, users need to practice the principle of collective responsibility; protection and avoiding suspicious sites could prevent the spread of malware. Thirdly, the fundamental values as well as properties need to be protected. That should as well include being compatible with the rights of the computer users (Al-Shahi, Sadler, Rees & Bateman, 2002). Lack of a common point understanding as well as fragmented approach only makes complex efforts towards stopping breaches of internet security. Internet usage has a global platform; thus, its effects will touch on every nation. Therefore, it becomes critical for countries to synchronize policy and processes used in fighting the cyber crime. For instance, the European failure to develop a central policy in dealing with the challenges of cyber theft has created more difficulties to them. Collected information shows failures are likely to occur where different approaches are made by either organizations or governments (Silva, 2013). That happens as some members take actions on certain aspects of attacks while others ignore them, as they may have not directly affected them. Such inaction only helps to serve the interest of hackers and other internet criminals.
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The Scope of Internet Security Vulnerability
According to the collected data, currently the world experiences stern internet security vulnerability. The rate of attacks has risen to levels forcing users to withdraw some of their data from the platform, while others contemplate leaving all together. Some errors in the systems operating on the internet such as OpenSSL have been found to allow hackers gain access to memories of websites. For research purposes, it was estimated that up to half a million websites could be cracked. However, there could be much more that had been noted by the study. Several matters could relate to the vulnerability. First, it becomes evident that certain individuals as well as organizations have failed to make an update of their servers (Perlroth, 2015). That could have contributed to the ease of access by hackers taking data such as that from passwords and credit card numbers. Further, there has been increase of levels of cyber crimes. Secondly, the private key by SSL technology was found to be vulnerable to criminals who would gain access to a website’s memory. Since the year 2000, the susceptibility of the internet attacks increased at high magnitude, hence giving the attackers an advantage (The Washington Post, 2015). Records show the attacks keeps increasing as more data gets under the threat of theft.
Types of Hackers and Their Motivation
The paper establishes presence of different types of hackers. For example, there are two types, the white and black hackers, who are labeled as good and bad ones respectively. The two types are based on the intention of each group. The white hackers identify themselves as experts with specialization in testing penetration effects of an attack. That means the hack to determine the level, in which a system can protect itself. Their stimulation is shielding the information while making secured internet platform. On the other hand, black hackers use their abilities to fracture networks to filch vital data. The motivation behind their actions is the need to destroy, punish someone, steal money, or gain fame (Hancock, 2006). The group has been found as the biggest conspirator in most internet attacks. The other groups include spy and government hackers and operate based on the person they serve. Government hackers operate on behalf of governmental authorities while spy assist companies steal information about their competitors. However, both could bear criminal element in nature of their operation. Finally, there are the hacktivists who claim to attack in order to protect the interests of the general public by submitting hidden data about operations of governments or institutions (Hancock, 2006). That means for this type of hackers their motivation is public interest.
The security architecture has become an advanced endeavor in the internet security standardization because it has been used as a core vehicle for a variety of high layer protocols. When attacked, the security of operations as well as transactions is under threat. At present, the version in use for the IPsec has the following components. There are two security protocols that which include the IP Encapsulating Security Payload and IP Authentication Header. Further, there are security associations representing set of services as well as parameters that have been negotiated on every secured IP path. Furthermore, it entails the algorithms for the purpose of authentication as well as encryption (Steinberg, 2014). The distinctiveness has been thought to assist in securing the system due to its demands user credential data and securely maintain login in information. That avoids any possible access to information by unauthorized individuals. With the architectural errors, there could be default and wrong trust assumptions (Steinberg, 2014). Further, protocol errors could contribute to a feeble authentication mechanism, unilateral entity validation, and downgrade attack.
Internet security is a vital aspect of the modern day way of life that is essentially based on the acceptance and the entrenchment of the platform in the social life as well as business transactions (Ritter, 2006). However, there exist several challenges since the origin of the internet in the 1960s that have increased the vulnerability rate with the core target groups being institutions and governments. Nevertheless, individuals are attacked as well, particularly when there is intent to financially extort or steal from them. There exist several types of internet attackers based on the nature of motivation as well as magnitude of attacks. Moreover, there are those whose intent is causing harm as they seek recognition. Nonetheless, another group of professional hackers known as ‘white hackers,’ train to note and deal with potential internet attacks.
For successful internet security, it becomes critical for all the countries and stakeholders to work in collaboration. That will ensure better policies across the globe meant to tackle a common problem. Again, engineers need to work on platforms that are well encrypted and that would not easily be attacked through malware. Good internet architecture will serve to improve protection while increasing chances of detecting illegal access of the website. Moreover, internet users should make sure they regularly update their systems to bring them up to date with the current defense against malware. It has been established through the study that most computers under attack have taken long before getting a system update. Further, they are advised to avoid clicking into adverts or opening emails or messages that they are not sure not to be from attackers.