Internet has vital impact in our life nowadays as it becomes more and more popular. It allows us to have wider range of communication and interaction, to exchange and share experiences, thoughts, information, and to make business online. Without doubt, internet make our life more easier, internet banking system allow us to manage our bank accounts, paying bills without queuing, online shops allow us to make purchase without going out, online education, publication and article postings allow us learn more than what we get from text book, and a lot more.
As Internet plays more important role in our daily life comparing to its initiation, some keen groups are ringing our bell, hackers, and theft of data, crackers. These people are all associated with a term security. It is not difficult for general publics to point out two of the security issues, security of online transaction and security of message transmission respectively. In fact, system hacking is more fatal.
Most of experienced online people understand that their data transmitted through Internet is in risk of being stolen or peek during transmission. A message or in general called data transmitting from one end to another, it passes number of nodes. It is far too easy for skilled people to grab those data during its transmission. It is not a serious issue for those who only do general chatting online. For those who doing business (e.g. online shopping) or sending very private materials (e.g. personal information), security becomes a big issue. For this reason, encryption is widely used for protecting the confidentiality of data being transmitted.
Basically, online transaction security, email security, network security are major considerations.
Online Transaction Security There are a lot of online shopping and online casinos operations running worldwide. The most serious problem for these operations is to protect their transaction data, such as clients personal information and credit card information. Transaction data transmits from client site to server side. During the transmission, data theft will take this golden opportunity to peek or to duplicate data. If those data had been abused in certain ways, not just the clients suffering from financial lose, but the operator will also suffer from reputation lose. When clients have no confident to shop from the site, the operator will suffer from lost far beyond just reputation. For this reason, kinds data security methods had been developed.
One of the most commonly used one called Secure Socket Layer protocol (SSL) The Secure Sockets Layer protocol (SSL) is a protocol layer which may be placed between a reliable connection-oriented network layer protocol (e.g. TCP/IP) and the application protocol layer (e.g. HTTP). SSL provides for secure communication between client and server by allowing mutual authentication, the use of digital signatures for integrity, and encryption for privacy. (1) Another latest security system is Security Electronic Transactions (SET) Security Electronic Transactions (SET) is a system for making payments securely over the Internet. It was developed by credit-card issuers and some major software and computer companies in the US. It uses encryption to make the transactions secure, and digital signatures to identify both merchants and buyers.(2)
Email Security Business making use of email facilities to deliver their business correspondences is a common practice nowadays because email allow them to send text messages, attachment, photographs, images, and drawings better than traditional fax machines. Emails were sent via number of servers operating by companies, individuals, universities and government. Servers can be equipped with mail scanning to scan certain keywords such as credit card number.
Encryption before sending is a good way to protect your email. Symmetric key cryptography and Public Key cryptography are examples. The most commonly found encryption is public key cryptography, an asymmetric scheme that uses a pair of keys for encryption: a public key, which encrypts data, and a corresponding private, or secret key for decryption.(3)
A more secure way now been developed, PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). PGP combines some of the best features of both conventional and public key cryptography. PGP is a hybrid cryptosystem. PGP then creates a session key, which is a one-time-only secret key. This key is a random number generated from the random movements of your mouse and the keystrokes you type. This session key works with a very secure, fast conventional encryption algorithm to encrypt the plaintext; the result is ciphertext.
Once the data is encrypted, the session key is then encrypted to the recipient’s public key. This public key-encrypted session key is transmitted along with the ciphertext to the recipient. (4) However, no matter how secure the encryption system is, we should understand that it was created by human being, That means there is chance to be cracked down. The speed of current computer cannot do so, but no guarantee for our future computers. It is a matter of time. Hackers and data theft treat security system as challenge instead of obstacles. The security threat is still on.
Network Security Despite the perfection of available encryption system we have, if our network itself is not secured. All encrypted transmission will be a wasting of time.
Imagine a man stand behind you watching you entering pin number in an ATM machine; the security system cannot actually help you from protecting your pin number. This applies to your network also. All your confidential information is stored in your network. If people break into your network, they get far more information than just sniffing emails and transmitting data. Therefore, enhancing network security is equally vital to security. Hackers, come in many varieties.
The term “hacker” usually brings to mind three of these — people who break the security of computer networks, people who break the security on application software, and people who create malicious programs like viruses. These aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s a simple way to divide the activities that fall under “hacking.” (5) Both hacker and us understand that there is a lot of classified confidential information stored in database of certain sites. Online shopping and Electronic Exchange for online casinos where millions of personal information and credit card information stored. Web mail database stored millions of login names, email information and email addresses. This information is extremely valuable to high-tech criminals.
Introducing firewall technology is one of the solutions to prevent hackers attack. An Internet firewall is a security mechanism that allows limited access to your site from the Internet, allowing approved traffic in and out according to a thought-out plan. This lets you select the services appropriate to your business needs, while barring others which may have significant security holes.(6)
Firewall acting as a traffic controller to block and permit traffics in and out its network according to network security policy. Configuration educates firewall what traffic to block or permit.
Many traditional-style corporations and data centers have computing security policies and practices that must be adhered to. In a case where a company’s policies dictate how data must be protected, a firewall is very important, since it is the embodiment of the corporate policy. Frequently, the hardest part of hooking to the Internet, if you’re a large company, is not justifying the expense or effort, but convincing management that it’s safe to do so. A firewall provides not only real security–it often plays an important role as a security blanket for management. (7)
Currently, many companies and organization are making us of Firewall to protect their remote accessible network.
Last but not least, the most dangerous hacker is not from outside. Past experiences told us that insiders did most of the big high-tech crimes. When we plan for our security system, human factor is normally being neglected. A successful system security planner shall not only eye on software and hardware, but also those working in the company. Access rights to computer room are one of the efficient ways to eliminate network data being stolen and abused.
Companies and organizations with highly confidential information will have sets of security policy with consideration of human factor to protect their network.
One thing we shall always keep in mind that no one connected to a computer network is really safe from hackers(8) Any of the security device or software can only minimize the possibility of data being hacked, stolen and abused.