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Network Security

Hello friend. Do you have a computer? No, that’s not a question anymore. The question asked is, Is your computer safe? Well, to know the answer, I, Vandana and my friend Joy, are here with this article. Do you save your personal data on your device? Do you transact money using your computer? Least case, are you on social media? If yes, then how safe are you in this world where everyone wants to access you? You seriously don’t want some random dude on the internet to read all your conversations, your bank account details in a pdf. If you want your data to be safe, here comes Network Security.

First, Network Security is any activity designed to protect the usability and integrity of your network and data. Over the past decade, the world has become more interconnected, with the advancement of new networking technologies. Similarly, our dependency on the internet has reached an unimaginable level. A huge amount of personal, commercial, and confidential data is stored on either private or openly accessible networks. To protect ourselves from the various cyber-threats, we need to update ourselves at least weekly, if not daily.

Imagine I transfer all the money from your bank account to mine anonymously? I mean, do you want that to happen? If not, then try to be safe and private. but, how? The bank has promised me already that it is safe and they don’t sell my data.. oh dear, do you know how many cybercrimes happen a day? By the time u finish reading this article, lakhs of people are getting hacked.

Here are some ways a hacker tries to steal your info and the ways you can save yourself from those attacks.

1. Brute forcing attacks

  • What is it?

    Brute-forcing is often called the dumbest possible way of ‘hacking’ into a system – basically, it involves ‘guessing’ the password from a list of possible passwords. Theoretically, it is possible to guess the correct password to any system by brute-forcing every possible combination but practically, it can take hours, days, months or even years to do it – which is, needless to say, highly impractical. However, if you set up a weak password, brute-forcing may be just the best way to gain access to your computer or account with the least hassle – you’d be surprised at just how many people keep passwords like “password”, “abcde” and “12345” even today. “John the Ripper” is quite a popular tool that is often used to carry out brute-forcing attacks, and is so easy to use that anyone with their hands on it can launch effective attacks against unlucky targets.

  • How can you protect yourself?

    Set up a strong password. Yes, it is annoying when websites and services force you to choose a password that contains alphabets, numbers and symbols and is of a certain length – besides, what if you forget your own password? That’d be a problem, right? Well, they do it for a reason – brute force attacks take exponentially longer for difficult, long passwords as compared to simpler ones. So yes, please do yourself a favour and not keep “password” as your password for anything.

2. System and application bug exploits

  • What is it?

    Coding commercial software is pretty difficult – everyone is aware of that. A lot of people and tonnes of effort goes into the making of your average email client, or your operating system, or pretty much any other software that sits on your computer; it is only natural that there are some imperfections in its design, imperfections that have not yet been found and weeded out by debuggers, imperfections that have thus not been fixed yet.

    Imperfections that can be used by a hacker to compromise your system and gain access to all your sweet sweet data.

    These imperfections, called bugs, are discovered constantly by debuggers and hackers, and depending on who finds it, is either fixed and released in a software update or is manipulated in a way that grants someone the ability to harm your system or gain access to it.

    “But I only use the latest software, I have Windows 10! No way do I have any exploits on my computer! This ain’t Windows XP or something!” Well sorry to break your bubble but, new exploits are being found every day, and Windows is famous for being the most vulnerable modern operating system. It has a heap of exploitable features. Don’t believe us? Try visiting exploit-db.com sometime, you’ll be surprised. What do you think those annoying system updates are for?

  • How can you protect yourself?

    1. Update your software regularly. We all hate updates - they take up a lot of our time and data after all, but they are indeed necessary as all the exploits that are found continuously in every piece of software are weeded out and patched via these very updates. That update that you’ve left pending for over a month could be the difference between you leading a normal life or having your bank account details stolen from you, or even worse.

    2. Get yourself a good antivirus software. Antivirus software are becoming increasingly good at detecting intrusion attempts; using Metasploitable (the most popular software used for attacking systems using exploits) on its default settings will trigger even the most basic antivirus systems, thus keeping you safe from such attacks

3. Phishing

  • What is it?

    You must have surely heard of this one: phishing is one of the most notorious social engineering attacks today. To put it simply, it works somewhat like this: you’re sitting somewhere, using your laptop to access your Facebook account in a coffee shop with free WiFi. However, the Facebook login page that you are on doesn’t have the protected HTTPS lock icon on the address bar – someone on the same network has created a webpage that looks identical to Facebook’s login page, and the moment you enter your username and password, the stranger who created the bootleg login page has your login credentials. Needless to say, this attack is not limited to social networking accounts – banking, healthcare, e-commerce are all platforms that are commonly targeted by phishers.

  • How can you protect yourself?

    Stay vigilant. It is pretty easy to spot a phished webpage – usually any phished webpage won’t have the HTTPS ‘lock’ icon. Thus whenever you are dealing with sensitive information, do check for the lock icon in the address bar. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled that easily.

4. Malware

  • What is it?

    Trojans, worms, ransomware, spyware like keyloggers etc – they are all broadly classified under the term malware – software developed with malicious intent. We don’t need to say much – malware like viruses are running rampant today, causing annoying ad pop-ups, critical system boot partition failures and everything in between, troubling just about every person on the planet who uses a computer. Remember WannaCry?

  • How can you protect yourself?

    1. Use an antivirus. This is painfully obvious – antivirus is specifically developed to combat all forms of malware (not only viruses as its name would suggest). Getting a good one would work just fine when it comes to protecting you from malware. Just don’t disable them when you’re trying to install a “cracked” pirated game or some other software – this is one of the most common ways malware infiltrate systems in a software-piracy hit nation like ours.

    2. Switch to Linux. If you can’t invest in a good antivirus for some reason, switching to Linux would be a great alternative – there are no viruses whatsoever that are developed for Linux, and those that are, exist for very specific targets, like the servers of large companies. Contrary to common belief, there are plenty of flavours of Linux that are as user friendly as Windows – you don’t need to be a computer genius to be able to use Linux.

  • Staying safe and Anonymous on the web

    Staying anonymous on the web can protect you from a lot of hacking attempts, like MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) attacks. Many hacking attacks depend on being able to read the traffic that flows between your computer and the internet, which can reveal a lot of information – even your location. Check iplocation.net to see for yourself.

    If the traffic between your computer and the internet could be made unreadable to hackers, you could protect yourself from attacks like these. Fortunately for you, there are quite a few ways by which you can anonymize yourself on the internet, keeping yourself and your information safe from prowling hackers.

    1. VPN

    VPNs are pretty common these days, they work by encrypting the traffic from your computer and hopping it off the server of the VPN provider. Thus your data is kept safe, and your IP address is hidden as well as the IP address visible to other people would be that of the VPN provider, keeping your location anonymous.

    2. Proxy servers

    Although not as effective as VPNs, proxy servers hide your IP address by masking it with their own IP address, thus obfuscating your location. However, your data still remains visible at times and thus is not considered a great option for anonymity on the web. However, it does unlock blocked sites in a country, and is usually free. Google’s 1.1.1.1 proxy server is a great example.

    3. Proxychains

    Available usually on Linux systems, proxychains is literally what its name suggests – it is a chain of proxy servers through which your data is routed. This is a lot safer than using a single proxy server, and is free, unlike VPN services. The trade-off here, however, is a drastic decrease in speed – bouncing your traffic across multiple servers that run for free is bound to decrease your internet speed by quite an amount.

    4. TailsOS

    TailsOS is a distribution of Linux. It is very similar to the popular user-friendly Linux distribution Ubuntu, making it very easy to use. TailsOS, however, is not your average operating system – it was built specifically to keep you safe and anonymous on the web. All of the traffic from TailsOS is routed through the Tor network, which is infamously known as the gateway to the dark web. Don’t worry though, TailsOS doesn’t take you to the dark web unless you specifically visit it on purpose; it merely benefits from the extreme levels of anonymity that the multiple Tor servers bouncing your traffic between them grant you. It is safe to say that it’s the ultimate OS choice if hiding your identity on the internet is a concern for you.

Conclusion :

“Network Security is the most important thing on the planet”. Security has become one of the major concerns in today’s lives as at the intersection of human beings and digital machines, we will find the repository of peoples’ greatest hopes and fears. In order to be safe and secure, be as anonymous, as private as possible. We have mentioned some minimum basic methods and the readers are advised to deep dive.