Cyber Security

Computer security, cybersecurity or information technology security is the protection of computer systems from theft or damage to their hardware, software or electronic data, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide. 





Cybersecurity is the protection of internet-connected systems, including hardware, software and data, from cyberattacks. In a computing context, security comprises cybersecurity and physical security -- both are used by enterprises to protect against unauthorized access to data centers and other computerized systems. The field is growing in importance due to increasing reliance on computer systems, the Internet and wireless networks such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and due to the growth of "smart" devices, including smartphonestelevisions and the various tiny devices that constitute the Internet of things. Due to its complexity, both in terms of politics and technology, it is also one of the major challenges of the contemporary world.





Vulnerabilities and attacks:

A vulnerability is a weakness in design, implementation, operation or internal control. Most of the vulnerabilities that have been discovered are documented in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database. An exploitable vulnerability is one for which at least one working attack or "exploit" exists.Vulnerabilities are often hunted or exploited with the aid of automated tools or manually using customized scripts. To secure a computer system, it is important to understand the attacks that can be made against it, and these threats can typically be classified into one of these categories below:

Backdoor:Edit

A backdoor in a computer system, a cryptosystem or an algorithm, is any secret method of bypassing normal authentication or security controls. They may exist for a number of reasons, including by original design or from poor configuration. They may have been added by an authorized party to allow some legitimate access, or by an attacker for malicious reasons; but regardless of the motives for their existence, they create a vulnerability.

Denial-Of-Service Attacks:Edit

Denial of service attacks (DoS) are designed to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Attackers can deny service to individual victims, such as by deliberately entering a wrong password enough consecutive times to cause the victims account to be locked, or they may overload the capabilities of a machine or network and block all users at once. While a network attack from a single IP address can be blocked by adding a new firewall rule, many forms of Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are possible, where the attack comes from a large number of points – and defending is much more difficult. Such attacks can originate from the zombie computers of a botnet, but a range of other techniques are possible including reflection and amplification attacks, where innocent systems are fooled into sending traffic to the victim.

Direct-Access Attacks:Edit

An unauthorized user gaining physical access to a computer is most likely able to directly copy data from it. They may also compromise security by making operating system modifications, installing software worms, keyloggers, covert listening devices or using wireless mice. Even when the system is protected by standard security measures, these may be able to be by-passed by booting another operating system or tool from a CD-ROM or other bootable media. Disk encryption and Trusted Platform Moduleare designed to prevent these attacks.

Eavesdropping:Edit

Eavesdropping is the act of surreptitiously listening to a private conversation, typically between hosts on a network. For instance, programs such as Carnivore and Narus In Sight have been used by the FBI and NSA to eavesdrop on the systems of internet service providers. Even machines that operate as a closed system (i.e., with no contact to the outside world) can be eavesdropped upon via monitoring the faint electro-magnetic transmissions generated by the hardware; TEMPEST is a specification by the NSA referring to these attacks.


Multivector, Polymorphic Attacks:Edit

Surfacing in 2017, a new class of multi-vector, polymorphic cyber threats surfaced that combined several types of attacks and changed form to avoid cybersecurity controls as they spread. These threats have been classified as fifth generation cyberattacks.

Phishing:Edit

Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details directly from users. Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Preying on a victim's trust, phishing can be classified as a form of social engineering.

Privilege Escalation:Edit

Privilege escalation describes a situation where an attacker with some level of restricted access is able to, without authorization, elevate their privileges or access level. For example, a standard computer user may be able to fool the system into giving them access to restricted data; or even to "become root" and have full unrestricted access to a system.

Social Engineering:

Social engineering aims to convince a user to disclose secrets such as passwords, card numbers, etc. by, for example, impersonating a bank, a contractor, or a customer. A common scam involves fake CEO emails sent to accounting and finance departments. In early 2016, the FBI reported that the scam has cost US businesses more than $2 billion in about two years. In May 2016, the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team was the victim of this type of cyber scam with a perpetrator impersonating the team's president Peter Feigin, resulting in the handover of all the team's employees' 2015 W-2 tax forms.

Spoofing:

Spoofing is the act of masquerading as a valid entity through falsification of data (such as an IP address or username), in order to gain access to information or resources that one is otherwise unauthorized to obtain. There are several types of spoofing, including:
  • Email spoofing, where an attacker forges the sending (From, or source) address of an email.
  • IP address spoofing, where an attacker alters the source IP address in a network packet to hide their identity or impersonate another computing system.
  • MAC spoofing, where an attacker modifies the Media Access Control (MAC) address of their network interface to pose as a valid user on a network.
  • Biometric spoofing, where an attacker produces a fake biometric sample to pose as another user.

TamperingEdit

Tampering describes a malicious modification of products. So-called "Evil Maid" attacks and security services planting of surveillance capability into routers are examples.


Incident Response Planning and Organization:
Incident response is an organized approach to addressing and managing the aftermath of a computer security incident or compromise with the goal of preventing a breach or thwarting a cyberattack. An incident that is not identified and managed at the time of intrusion, typically escalates to a more impactful event such as a data breach or system failure. The intended outcome of a computer security incident response plan is to limit damage and reduce recovery time and costs. Responding to compromises quickly can mitigate exploited vulnerabilities, restore services and processes and minimize impact and losses.
Incident response planning allows an organization to establish a series of best practices to stop an intrusion before it causes damage. Typical incident response plans contain a set of written instructions that outline the organization’s response to a cyberattack. Without a documented plan in place, an organization may not successfully detect an intrusion or compromise and stakeholders may not understand their roles, processes and procedures during an escalation, slowing the organizations response and resolution.
There are four key components of a computer security incident response plan:
  1. Preparation: Preparing stakeholders on the procedures for handling computer security incidents or compromises
  2. Detection & Analysis: Identifying and investigating suspicious activity to confirm a security incident, prioritizing the response based on impact and coordinating notification of the incident
  3. Containment, Eradication & Recovery: Isolating affected systems to prevent escalation and limit impact, pinpointing the genesis of the incident, removing malware, affected systems and bad actors from the environment and restoring systems and data when a threat no longer remains
  4. Post Incident Activity: Post mortem analysis of the incident, its root cause and the organization’s response with the intent of improving the incident response plan and future response efforts.




Information Security Culture:
Employee behavior can have a big impact on information security in organizations. Cultural concepts can help different segments of the organization work effectively or work against effectiveness towards information security within an organization. ″Exploring the Relationship between Organizational Culture and Information Security Culture″ provides the following definition of information security culture: ″ISC is the totality of patterns of behavior in an organization that contribute to the protection of information of all kinds.″
Andersson and Reimers (2014) found that employees often do not see themselves as part of the organization Information Security "effort" and often take actions that ignore organizational Information Security best interests. Research shows Information security culture needs to be improved continuously. In ″Information Security Culture from Analysis to Change″, authors commented, ″It′s a never ending process, a cycle of evaluation and change or maintenance.″ To manage the information security culture, five steps should be taken: Pre-evaluation, strategic planning, operative planning, implementation, and post-evaluation.
  • Pre-Evaluation: to identify the awareness of information security within employees and to analyze the current security policy.
  • Strategic Planning: to come up with a better awareness program, clear targets need to be set. Clustering people is helpful to achieve it.
  • Operative Planning: a good security culture can be established based on internal communication, management-buy-in, and security awareness and a training program.
  • Implementation: four stages should be used to implement the information security culture. They are:
  1. Commitment of the management
  2. Communication with organizational members
  3. Courses for all organizational members
  4. Commitment of the employees.



Systems At Risk:
The growth in the number of computer systems, and the increasing reliance upon them of individuals, businesses, industries and governments means that there are an increasing number of systems at risk.

Financial Systems:Edit

The computer systems of financial regulators and financial institutions like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SWIFT, investment banks, and commercial banks are prominent hacking targets for cybercriminals interested in manipulating markets and making illicit gains. Web sites and apps that accept or store credit card numbers, brokerage accounts, and bank account information are also prominent hacking targets, because of the potential for immediate financial gain from transferring money, making purchases, or selling the information on the black market. In-store payment systems and ATMs have also been tampered with in order to gather customer account data and PINs.

Utilities And Industrial Equipment:Edit

Computers control functions at many utilities, including coordination of telecommunications, the power grid, nuclear power plants, and valve opening and closing in water and gas networks. The Internet is a potential attack vector for such machines if connected, but the Stuxnet worm demonstrated that even equipment controlled by computers not connected to the Internet can be vulnerable. In 2014, the Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, investigated 79 hacking incidents at energy companies. Vulnerabilities in smart meters (many of which use local radio or cellular communications) can cause problems with billing fraud.

Aviation:Edit

The aviation industry is very reliant on a series of complex systems which could be attacked. A simple power outage at one airport can cause repercussions worldwide, much of the system relies on radio transmissions which could be disrupted, and controlling aircraft over oceans is especially dangerous because radar surveillance only extends 175 to 225 miles offshore. There is also potential for attack from within an aircraft. In Europe, with the (Pan-European Network Service) and NewPENS, and in the US with the NextGen program, air navigation service providers are moving to create their own dedicated networks. The consequences of a successful attack range from loss of confidentiality to loss of system integrity, air traffic control outages, loss of aircraft, and even loss of life.


Consumer Devices:Edit

Desktop computers and laptops are commonly targeted to gather passwords or financial account information, or to construct a botnet to attack another target. Smartphones, tablet computers, smart watches, and other mobile devices such as quantified self devices like activity trackers have sensors such as cameras, microphones, GPS receivers, compasses, and accelerometers which could be exploited, and may collect personal information, including sensitive health information. Wifi, Bluetooth, and cell phone networks on any of these devices could be used as attack vectors, and sensors might be remotely activated after a successful breach.

Large Corporations:Edit

Large corporations are common targets. In many cases this is aimed at financial gain through identity theft and involves data breaches such as the loss of millions of clients' credit card details by Home Depot, Staples, Target Corporation, and the most recent breach of Equifax. Some cyberattacks are ordered by foreign governments, these governments engage in cyberwarfare with the intent to spread their propaganda, sabotage, or spy on their targets. Many people believe the Russian government played a major role in the US presidential election of 2016 by using Twitter and Facebook to affect the results of the election.
Medical records have been targeted for use in general identify theft, health insurance fraud, and impersonating patients to obtain prescription drugs for recreational purposes or resale. Although cyber threats continue to increase, 62% of all organizations did not increase security training for their business in 2015. Not all attacks are financially motivated however; for example security firm HBGary Federal suffered a serious series of attacks in 2011 from hacktivist group Anonymous in retaliation for the firm's CEO claiming to have infiltrated their group, and in the Sony Pictures attack of 2014 the motive appears to have been to embarrass with data leaks, and cripple the company by wiping workstations and servers.

                                  


Automobiles:

Vehicles are increasingly computerized, with engine timing, cruise control, anti-lock brakes, seat belt tensioners, door locks, airbags and advanced driver-assistance systems on many models. Additionally, connected cars may use WiFi and Bluetooth to communicate with onboard consumer devices and the cell phone network. Self-driving cars are expected to be even more complex. All of these systems carry some security risk, and such issues have gained wide attention. Simple examples of risk include a malicious compact disc being used as an attack vector, and the car's onboard microphones being used for eavesdropping. 

However, if access is gained to a car's internal controller area network, the danger is much greater – and in a widely publicized 2015 test, hackers remotely carjacked a vehicle from 10 miles away and drove it into a ditch. Manufacturers are reacting in a number of ways, with Tesla in 2016 pushing out some security fixes "over the air" into its cars' computer systems. In the area of autonomous vehicles, in September 2016 the United States Department of Transportation announced some initial safety standards, and called for states to come up with uniform policies.

Government:Edit

Government and military computer systems are commonly attacked by activists and foreign powers. Local and regional government infrastructure such as traffic light controls, police and intelligence agency communications, personnel records, student records, and financial systems are also potential targets as they are now all largely computerized. Passports and government ID cards that control access to facilities which use RFID can be vulnerable to cloning.


Internet Of Things And Physical Vulnerabilities:
Edit

The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical objects such as devices, vehicles, and buildings that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables them to collect and exchange data – and concerns have been raised that this is being developed without appropriate consideration of the security challenges involved. While the IoT creates opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, it also provides opportunities for misuse. In particular, as the Internet of Things spreads widely, cyber attacks are likely to become an increasingly physical (rather than simply virtual) threat. If a front door's lock is connected to the Internet, and can be locked/unlocked from a phone, then a criminal could enter the home at the press of a button from a stolen or hacked phone. People could stand to lose much more than their credit card numbers in a world controlled by IoT-enabled devices. Thieves have also used electronic means to circumvent non-Internet-connected hotel door locks.

Medical Systems:

Medical devices have either been successfully attacked or had potentially deadly vulnerabilities demonstrated, including both in-hospital diagnostic equipment and implanted devices including pacemakers and insulin pumps. There are many reports of hospitals and hospital organizations getting hacked, including ransomwareattacks, Windows XP exploits, viruses, and data breaches of sensitive data stored on hospital servers. On 28 December 2016 the US Food and Drug Administrationreleased its recommendations for how medical device manufacturers should maintain the security of Internet-connected devices – but no structure for enforcement.


Energy Sector:Edit

In distributed generation systems, the risk of cyber attacks is real, according to Daily Energy Insider. An attack could cause a loss of power in a large area for a long period of time, and such an attack could have just as severe consequences as a natural disaster. The District of Columbia is considering creating a Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Authority within the city, with the goal being for customers to have more insight into their own energy use and giving the local electric utility, Pepco, the chance to better estimate energy demand. The D.C. proposal, however, would "allow third-party vendors to create numerous points of energy distribution, which could potentially create more opportunities for cyberattackers to threaten the electric grid."


Impact of Security Breaches:
Serious financial damage has been caused by security breaches, but because there is no standard model for estimating the cost of an incident, the only data available is that which is made public by the organizations involved. "Several computer security consulting firms produce estimates of total worldwide losses attributable to virus and worm attacks and to hostile digital acts in general. The 2003 loss estimates by these firms range from $13 billion (worms and viruses only) to $226 billion (for all forms of covert attacks). The reliability of these estimates is often challenged; the underlying methodology is basically anecdotal." Security breaches continue to cost businesses billions of dollars but a survey revealed that 66% of security staffs do not believe senior leadership takes cyber precautions as a strategic priority. However, reasonable estimates of the financial cost of security breaches can actually help organizations make rational investment decisions. According to the classic Gordon-Loeb Model analyzing the optimal investment level in information security, one can conclude that the amount a firm spends to protect information should generally be only a small fraction of the expected loss (i.e., the expected value of the loss resulting from a cyber/information security breach).


Attacker Motivation:
As with physical security, the motivations for breaches of computer security vary between attackers. Some are thrill-seekers or vandals, some are activists, others are criminals looking for financial gain. State-sponsored attackers are now common and well resourced, but started with amateurs such as Markus Hess who hacked for the KGB, as recounted by Clifford Stoll, in The Cuckoo's EggA standard part of threat modelling for any particular system is to identify what might motivate an attack on that system, and who might be motivated to breach it. The level and detail of precautions will vary depending on the system to be secured. A home personal computer, bank, and classified military network face very different threats, even when the underlying technologies in use are similar.



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