What is Internet Security ?
The Importance Of Internet Security
When you connect your computer, mobile phone or any other internet-capable device to the world wide web, you expose yourself to a plethora of threats that you might not be aware even exist. Your computer is the home of personal data ranging from your hobbies and interests to your utility bills and financial information.
Internet security is the process of mitigating and preventing attacks that occur over the internet. As an average user of the internet, the responsibility is on you to safeguard yourself and avoid potential internet threats. When a hack occurs, you can lose valuable information, including time, account access or money, or just face an embarrassment if your personal accounts get exposed for all the world to see.
Hacks come with costs that range from financial to legal. If you are a consultant, for example, internet security is a measure that protects you against potential litigation. If a hacker accesses your customers’ data through your internet connection, your customers can rightfully sue you to recover the costs associated with the incident.
For businesses, internet breaches can bring direct financial costs, such as the cost to recover failing computer systems or lost business. In a notable case, Yahoo suffered a significant data breach in September 2016 when hackers stole data from Yahoo’s network. The hack had enormous financial costs for Yahoo, raising concerns over its acquisition for $4.8 billion by Verizon.
In May 2017, a phishing attack targeted the Gmail email service, exposing the account details of Gmail users. About 1 million users were estimated to have been breached by the attack. Given the sensitive personal information that users stored in their accounts, the phishing attack reinforced the need for strong internet security measures. The costs can be catastrophic for both businesses and users, and therefore, demand an active defense in the form of internet security measures.
Internet Security Using A VPN Service
One of the best means for protecting yourself is the use of a VPN service. A virtual private network service, for instance, LimeVPN, creates a secure tunnel between your internet device and safe servers that connect to the outside web on your behalf. VPNs use encryption to keep the data being exchanged safe from potential attackers, along with other measures that improve your level of internet security.
Internet security mitigates against threats that include hackers, network attacks, malware, exploits, worms, phishing, cross-site scripting, and others. Each of these is a potential source for hacks that can affect you as an internet user unless you have taken sufficient internet security countermeasures. With a VPN connection to the internet, your data passes through a secure layer that keeps you safe.
Phishing attacks target internet users of well-known websites, such as email services, social networks, banks, or other online service providers. In a phishing attack, an attacker presents the target user with a web page or login that is built to mimic the web page from the legitimate service provider.
When the user clicks on the page or enters login information, the attacker has set up a code on the page that captures the credentials entered in by the user. The attacker now has the correct credentials that the user would normally use in order to gain access to their personal accounts on the legitimate internet service. As a result, the attacker will now use the collected credentials to illegally access the user’s accounts and perform any malicious actions they so desire as part of the breach.
Phishing attacks are frequently presented via emails, although pop ups and other banner ads on websites can be used as well. Common phishing emails look realistic, and will sometimes use email sender names that have the official names of legitimate web services. Common email providers, however, try to identify phishing emails and classify them as spam. Clicking on these spam emails carries with it a high risk of phishing attacks.
When a phishing attack goes undetected, a user’s access and control over accounts can be severely compromised. Beyond the inconvenience, hackers can steal data or misuse financial accounts, among a multitude of other mischiefs that results from phishing.
Lehigh University has cataloged a variety of phishing attempts that the institution and its students have suffered in recent times. The emails portray helpful information, including, for instance, notifications about a file shared with the user from the file storage service at Box.com. The problem, however, is that these were actual phishing emails that would attempt to steal a user’s credentials when entered on the presented website.
Cross Site Scripting
Cross-site scripting is another common attack that internet security can help address. Cross-site scripting occurs when a hacker injects malicious code into an application’s runtime. Using the malicious code, the hacker can then interfere with the proper running of a target website or application. Hackers using this technique can do everything from changing how a website appears to steal user data.
In a suspected cross-site scripting attack in July 2017, a number of U.S. government sites, including the website of the governor of Ohio, was hacked. The attackers used malicious code to display pro-ISIS messages.
Cross-site scripting taps vulnerabilities in the coding of internet properties like websites in order to run malicious code.
As a user, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid using a website that is undergoing a cross-site scripting attack. If you enter your details on such a website, for example, the attacker’s malicious code may use your details to target your accounts. As a result, it’s a better strategy to request help from the administrators of the website, using alternative means like a phone call to contact them.
Password Rainbow Table Attacks
When it comes to internet security, one of the best ways to keep yourself safe is to use strong passwords and other password related practices. Attackers have become better and better at targeting accounts with weak passwords. Automated tools that can guess and crack passwords are now common. One of these is the so-called rainbow tables, which are tables that contain long lists of common passwords and their computational representation. Using these rainbow tables, hackers can guess passwords in a stunningly short time.
To keep yourself safe, prefer fairly long passwords with a complicated mix of characters. Long passwords are harder to crack because they introduce more variability and thus make it statistically harder for an attacker to guess. In addition, even when using automated password cracking tools, longer passwords will require more computing power to crack, as well as a greater amount of time. When faced with these challenges, hackers will prefer to move on and find another target with a weaker password that may be more easily cracked.
Why It Pays To Know About Internet Security
As we saw, internet security keeps you safe from a multitude of threats such as phishing and password attacks. Specific strategies like using a VPN for internet access or making use of long passwords can improve your level of internet security.
Threats, when they succeed, can be very costly. Replacing lost business or income for a business or individual after an internet attack can be a long process. Once hackers gain access, they exert the maximum possible advantage, which often means misappropriating resources and outright theft. The best measure is to begin investing in some aspects of your overall internet security.