We are currently living in the Cyberage, where the Internet and computers have major impacts on our way of living, social life and the way we conduct businesses.
The usage of information technology has posed great security challenges and ethical questions in front of us. Just as everything has positives and negatives, the usage of information technology is beneficial as well as insecure.
With the growth of the internet, network security has become a major concern. Cybercrimes have emerged rapidly in the last few years and have major consequences. Cybercriminals are doing everything from stealing money, hacking into other computers, stealing intellectual property, spreading viruses and worms to damage computers connected on the internet and committing frauds.
The stoppage of cyber crimes is a major concern today.
Cybercriminals make use of the vulnerabilities in computer soft wares and networks to their advantage.
Hacking or Cracking is a major cybercrime committed today. Hacker makes use of the weaknesses and loopholes in operating systems to destroy data and steal important information from victim’s computer. Cracking is normally done through the use of a backdoor program installed on your machine. A lot of crackers also try to gain access to resources through the use of password cracking software. Hackers can also monitor what u do on your computer and can also import files on your computer. A hacker could install several programs on your system without your knowledge. Such programs could also be used to steal personal information such as passwords and credit card information. Important data of a company can also be hacked to get the secret information of the plans of the company.
Cyber-Theft is the use of computers and communication systems to steal information in electronic format. Hackers crack into the systems of banks and transfer money into their bank accounts. This is a major concern, as larger amounts of money can be stolen and illegally transferred.
Many newsletters on the internet provide the investors with free advice recommending stocks where they should invest. Sometimes these recommendations are bogus and cause loss to the investors. Credit card fraud is also very common.
Most of the companies and banks don’t reveal that they have been the victims of cyber -theft because of the fear of losing customers and shareholders. Cyber-theft is the most common and the most reported of all cyber-crimes. Cyber-theft is a popular cyber-crime because it can quickly bring experienced cyber-criminal large cash resulting from very little effort. Furthermore, there is little chance a professional cyber-criminal will be apprehended by law enforcement.
Viruses and worms:
Viruses and worms are a very major threat to normal users and companies. Viruses are computer programs that are designed to damage computers. It is named virus because it spreads from one computer to another like a biological virus. A virus must be attached to some other program or documents through which it enters the computer. A worm usually exploits loopholes in soft wares or the operating system. Trojan horse is dicey. It appears to do one thing but does something else. The system may accept it as one thing. Upon execution, it may release a virus, worm or logic bomb. A logic bomb is an attack triggered by an event, like a computer clock reaching a certain date. Chernobyl and Melissa viruses are the recent examples.
Experts estimate that the Mydoom worm infected approximately a quarter-million computers in a single day in January 2004. Back in March 1999, the Melissa virus was so powerful that it forced Microsoft and several other very large companies to completely turn off their e-mail systems until the virus could be contained.
An important question arises that how can these crimes be prevented. Several techniques and solutions have been presented but the problems still exist and are increasing day by day.
Antivirus And Antispyware Software:
Аntivirus software consists of computer programs that attempt to identify, thwart and eliminate computer viruses and other malicious software. Anti-spy wares are used to restrict backdoor programs, trojans and other spy wares to be installed on the computer.
A firewall protects a computer network from unauthorized access. Network firewalls may be hardware devices, software programs, or a combination of the two. A network firewall typically guards an internal computer network against malicious access from outside the network.
Cryptography is the science of encrypting and decrypting information. Encryption is like sending a postal mail to another party with a lock code on the envelope which is known only to the sender and the recipient. Several cryptographic methods have been developed and some of them are still not cracked.
Cyber Ethics and Laws:
Cyberethics and cyber laws are also being formulated to stop cybercrimes. It is the responsibility of every individual to follow cyber ethics and cyber laws so that increasing cyber crimes shall reduce. Security software like antiviruses and anti-spy wares should be installed on all computers, to remain secure from cybercrimes. Internet Service Providers should also provide a high level of security at their servers to keep their clients secure from all types of viruses and malicious programs.
Shaikh Mohsin Ayaz
Department of Computer Science, University of Karachi