The Internet Has No Identity

Stop. Breathe. Relax and get ready for an explanation about cyber security in the least scary and simplest way. Ever since birth the internet has changed tremendously. January of 1983 is when a group of researches formed the network of networks but in 1990 is when the Internet, as we know it, was created by computer scientist Tim Berners. Since then communication between technological devices has slowly started to take over our lives from web browsing and instant messaging to online banking.

 

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Infographic by: Matthew Stallone

Right now 46.1% of our planet’s human inhabitance uses the world wide web. Now you are probably still wondering about the title. Yes, the internet has no identity because it is not a thing or something we can really understand, to understand the internet would be similar to understanding 100% of our brains. The internet is a tool and it is becoming harder to manage who is connecting to what as the complexity of the internet increases.

A rising issue that everyone living in a first world country is beginning to understand is security when using the internet. Although the internet doesn’t have an identity, the users most certainly do. A good first step in understanding security knowing what a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is. A PKI contains internet policies, people, hardware procedures and software in order to manage, distribute, use, store and revoke digital access. In other words, your PKI is used when communicating with other devices in order to clarify with those devices that you are you.

Hackers like to steal this information. They can steal this with malicious code, what they will do is leaving click bait. So all of those cool top 10 lists you see on Facebook aren’t what they seem to be, if you click on a bad link this malicious code will infect your computer.

Over all about $1 Trillion of intellectual property is stolen annually. One of the most effective ways to protect yourself against something like this is by using honeypot software.

“Honeynets are a security resource whose value lies in being probed, attacked or compromised”- Lance Spitzner, founder of the Honeynet project.

What software like this does is cast a virtual net and lets hackers roam around on sites with the software infecting it. Once infected and detected the malicious code is killed. Next, the information about who put the code there is stored and now that site is protected against anything relating to that user.

“Our product gets stronger the more people use it, by having more people surf the internet through us we can dig through more code giving our database more information to base its decisions off of; whether or not that link or address you just searched is safe” Zafar Essa stated about OpenDNS, an online cyber security company.

However, there is liability in the Honeynets side of things legally. Hackers can use the Honeynet software to mask their identity and release malicious code. In order to use a software like this for protection you must point your computer’s IP address at the Honeynet. Effectively changing the identity of your computer. Although safe, hackers can create a new identity for themselves through a new computer, point their traffic towards the at a security database and essentially hide themselves.

This most recently happened in October 2016, millions of vulnerable devices were attacked. Information was stolen and the attackers used Honeynet software, such as Google’s Alphabet Inc. and Cisco Systems OpenDNS, to mask themselves. Other security simply can’t block or separate malicious code from these Honeynets because OpenDNS sees about 4% of the internets traffic while Google sees around 40%.  Keep in mind that these types of attacks are done by the most skillful of hackers and some of the most difficult to protect against.

 

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Photo By: Matthew Stallone

A large concern for many of you who use banks to store your money are probably thinking about all of the online banking that happens. Approximately 59% of all banking is now done online while 81% of people utilize online banking. This is a large issue that the government has taken a special interest in especially after 9/11. This day was a big scare and tragedy to our nation and initiated a large upscale for security, physically as well as on the web.

Ultimately in 2002 the Government and the Banking industry initiated a back-up plan for attacks called “Sound Practices White Papers”. What this did was require banks as well as other online organizations with private information to have multiple back-up data sets of everything that happens and is stored on the online.

“I use the internet for a lot of stuff but what I like most is shopping, I browse Amazon and Tumblr for clothes” Said Alexandra Stallone when asked how she utilizes the internet “I think I’ve bought clothes from several different websites”

Online banking not only refers to transferring money within your account but also anything you purchase online. Credit card information is a highly sought after piece of data that hackers will sell on the internet for as little as 7 cents. In a collaborative effort striving for better security the members of the Banking Round-Table created BITS in 1996. BITS focuses on keeping members of the banking industry at the highest level of security. Informing banks of technological changes, advancements and new threats to their online sector.

Along with web browsing and banking one of the largest parts of using the internet is communication.

“I generally use the internet to stay connected and talk to friends through Facebook and Twitter” Said Rob Hurdman said when ask how he uses the internet most.

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Photo by: Matthew Stallone

Web based services providing instant messaging also has needs security as valued/business related information is often transcribed on these platforms. Similar to everyone’s PKI, each of your web based application accounts has a SSL (secure sockets layer) or TLS (transport later security). These layers are another form of identity justification. Identity is the key to a tool that has none, it gives you access to you. Declaring that you are you on a device is how you use the internet, how you communicate with web based apps and how you send instant messages.

The largest Identity providers are companies who issue credit cards, email platforms and the government i.e. your social security number. Over-all the internet is growing at a large rate with more users than ever. With more users comes more information personal and big data. On the business end, with more internet users, companies are trying to make purchases simpler than ever, saving credit card info. and mailing addresses for easy checkout options.

“I don’t really feel safe on the internet; I feel exposed in some ways. I have so much information stored on the cloud and on other websites. If someone stole my information from one place they could also have access to other things that I have online” Liam McHugh answered when asked if he felt safe using the internet.

References:

  1. Jilani, S. S. (2011, 09). Cyber security. Southasia, 15, 51-52. Retrieved from http://du.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1095799799?accountid=14608
  2. http://www.sans.edu/research/security-laboratory/article/honeypots-guide
  3. Voeller, John G., ed. Cyber Security (1). Somerset, US: Wiley, 2014. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 20 November 2016.
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshsteimle/2015/04/11/can-the-banks-save-online-banking-from-themselves/#591b19783d90

 

 

 

 

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