Internet Security: Behind the Firewall
The Internet is a hub of tremendous activity where users share all sorts of personal and financial data without acknowledging the potential threats that lurk behind a thin wall of security. Internet security is a field that garners minimal attention and understanding from even the most frequent Internet users. People neglect to learn about the technical aspects involved in keeping your own information safe. Further, Internet users should have a certain level of awareness regarding how attacks might present themselves in everyday situations. The World Wide Web continues to be a fluid network of shared information, ideas, and services. However, the technical backbone that manages the safety and risk of Internet use is often overlooked.
It is fair to wonder about the necessity of Internet security and the likelihood of an information breach actually taking place. As a whole, the Internet continues to develop and evolve. Stefano Grazioli, an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, states that, “Internet businesses use new technologies for which established controls are lacking.” (Grazioli 93). Technology is advancing faster than security protocols can keep pace with, and is a fundamental issue with the general security of the Internet. Security advances alongside technology, and therefore cannot keep itself a step ahead of potential dangers. This causes Internet security to be an ongoing issue. In December of 2013, Target Corporation was the victim of huge amounts of information theft (Yang). The aftermath still leaves upwards of 70 million shoppers with a sharply increased chance of identity theft. Target’s informational security system was unable to protect against all the different tactics attackers may use. Even a small hole in the security system can be exploited. Breaches can come in plenty of different forms, and security networks have to protect against all of them to remain effective. Although, this is a large-scale attack, Internet users can be in even greater jeopardy from using their personal desktop computer or laptop.
People need to be aware that attacks will often be innocently disguised, and equip themselves with the mental knowledge to avoid these pitfalls. Phishing is a technique used by attackers that have the victim unwittingly navigate into a counterfeit web address. A seemingly legitimate email is sent that provokes the target to click on a link that compromises their information. In fact, Darknet, a blog forum, explains how government officials released their email account passwords to unknown attackers, speculated to be Chinese Activists, by falling into this very trap (Darknet). It is easy to think that stolen information won’t be too detrimental to your well-being, but it can easily have a serious impact. Simply losing the confidentiality of an email password can be harmful to you and your email contacts. Information is a tool for attackers to abuse and cause you personal and financial distress.
Misinformation can be equally problematic to information theft. Poor decisions can be made without a proper understanding of data that is presented to you. Grazioli points out that people need to be on the lookout for simple misrepresentations of data that could lead them to harm (Grazioli 96). Masking information by leaving out crucial data is an underhanded tactic that can lure people into unwelcome situations. Grazioli cites a simple example saying the publisher of a financial blog or newsletter may recommend stocks he or she speculates to perform well. Wherein reality those companies are sponsoring the site, and paying for that recommendation (Grazioli). In short, personal awareness of the prevalence of fraud and deception can save you from unnecessary troubles.
A basic understanding and mindfulness of the realities behind Internet security and the deceitful nature of attackers limits your risk of being exploited through casual web surfing. People should continue with their normal Internet use, and not be intimidated by the potential of attacks. Although getting targeted over the Internet is a real possibility, avoiding dangerous situations is easy with the appropriate know-how. Moreover, the Internet constantly advances with the development of new technology, making it difficult for businesses to maintain strong network security. As a result, the threat will never fully diminish, but individuals who proactively protect themselves through knowledge and understanding have the best defense. The Internet is a global resource with innumerable benefits, but Internet security must remain at the forefront of your awareness.
“Darknet – The Darkside.” Darknet. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.
Grazioli, Stefano. Jarvenpaa, Sirkka L. “Consumer and Business Deception on the Internet: Content Analysis of Documentary Evidence. International Journal of Electronic Commerce. Vol. 7, No. 4 (Summer 2003), pp. 93-118.