Monday, April 1, 2013

X Blogs - The Series - Part 1

Disclaimer - All the characters in this series of blogs are almost real, and resemblance to any known characters is purposefully drafted to add some elements of humor to the blog. No offenses otherwise !!!

Characters: Characters in this blog will be introduced at a later stage as appropriate.
X Blog Series presents a series of blog articles, covering various IT security topics in an interesting and innovative manner. It not just covers the basic topics, but also relates them with practical examples around us. Scope of information is not just a corporate level contest, but also educating people about the very basics of security concepts in a very easy to understand language.

X-Blogs Series P1: Sibbal meets X | Why is IT security important

One fine Saturday morning, Mr. Sibbal, a first year student doing B.E. from a private college in Udaipur (Rajasthan, India), was sitting on a bench in Gulab-Bagh Garden, browsing internet on his newly bought Nokia N8 Mobile phone. It appeared that he had just finished his morning jogging, and is relaxing on the bench. A closer look revealed, that he was checking his statistics about the number of steps he had ran this morning, using “Wellness Diary” application. Then he started browsing his emails. His friend had sent in a mail about the assignment given in class yesterday. “Network Security” he said, “that’s a silly topic”. “There could have been better topics, like Social Networks, or Mobile Internet or just facebook….nobody has interest in security!!” Suddenly, a heavy voice was heard “You should take interest in that”. Out of the fog, appeared a shadow.

“Who are you?” asked Mr. Sibbal.

“My name is X!” said that gentleman. “And I am here to tell you, that ‘Network security’ is an interesting and important subject. It is really the need of the hour, so you should take interest in it.”

Mr. Sibbal: Network security is a buzz word for US and other developed countries, where people are very much dependent on technology, and keep all a digital copy of all their personal information.  I have seen many Hollywood movies (like Swordfish) about using ultra-super gadgets to break into the toughest of defense networks, getting the desired files, and then running away, bombing whole of the place away. These are real fancy things, but I don’t think there is so much scope and level of the hackers here in this country. In developing countries like India, there is very little scope of theft and misuse of digital information, so I think I rather should take it easy.

Mr. X: This is not really correct. Recent studies show that cyber-crime is rising in India at alarming levels. According to the reports by Security and Defense Agenda (SDA) and McAfee, amongst all the nations worldwide, India holds fifth spot in all cyber-crime affected countries. Did you know, during the Commonwealth Games 2010, the government websites were attacked 200 times by cyber criminals!!

MR. Sibbal: Alright, but I don’t have any website of myself. I am just a normal internet user, accessing Gmail and Facebook occasionally. I really don’t think I need some special security for my information.

Mr. X: That is another misconception. India is adopting the internet technology, specially mobile internet technology at a rapid rate. According to some facts, India has just one percent of population using internet (i.e. just 100 million people), out of which 59% are using mobile devices to access internet, and almost negligible number of these devices have any security applications installed. And this number is growing at an annual rate of 34%. To ensure a healthy growth, India is definitely going to need serious security measures to keep the rapidly growing internet usage a safe and secure experience for people.

Mr. Sibbal: Alright, the numbers are quite impressive. But I am not a technology junkie, and I just know the regular steps of accessing internet. I even don’t know what kind of internet related crimes can occur when I am browsing internet. How can I make sure that I am using internet securely.

Mr. X: Alright. So first of all, you should know the various possible ways of in which you may get convicted of cyber-crimes. Dr. John A. Marshall, Department of Technology, University of Southern Maine has published a nice journal about various crimes that are usually encountered by the novice internet users like you.  This list includes:

Fraudulent Schemes on the Internet: Email messages stating that you have won a huge amount in lottery. They usually ask for personal details, your bank account number, and very often, some money in name of processing charges.
-  Viruses: Viruses or worms, usually spreading through spam, that can damage and destroy your hardware or software.
-  Programs stealing sensitive information:   Computer programs (referred as cookies) that automatically get downloaded on your hard drive while surfing, which can send sensitive information back to websites.
-  Hackers: Computer Hackers, who break into your system and database, stealing confidential information like passwords or credit card details.
-  Hardware Theft: Masked men armed with guns.

Mr. Sibbal: What? Masked man with guns stealing computers is a cyber-crime?

Mr. X: Well, may be Dr. John added the last factor just to add some humor to his report, but yes, the other factors are really the serious issues faced by the novice internet users.

Mr. Sibbal: Oh yes, I do agree. These things are really some good factors to worry. How can I make sure that I do not get convicted of any such incident?

Mr. X: Regarding this, I can take you to a place, which is currently becoming a hotspot for many activities related to information security, network security, internet security and cyber-security.

Mr. Sibbal: Where?

Mr. X: Advaiya!!!

Mr. Sibbal: Advaiya?

Mr. X: Yes, Advaiya Solutions, Udaipur. They have organized a Hack-a-month event, and Hackethon challenge, that includes various fun activities and events. Each of the events covers different security aspects, like Cryptography, Network Security, Browser Security, Authentication and Authorization and many other interesting topics. If you could be a part of it, it would be really educative for you.

Mr. Sibbal: But will they allow me to be a part of their private event.

Mr. X: Don’t worry; I know a team of this event, named as Anonymous-X team. They can help you gaining some useful information that you are looking for.

Mr. Sibbal: Alright. Can you please make the arrangements?

Mr. X: Ok. I will. Till then, you just prepare a list of specific questions that you would want to know.

Mr. Sibbal: Ok. I will. Thanks a lot Mr. X.

(Continue reading at X Blogs - The Series - Part 2 )

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