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Op-Ed: How to curb cyberattacks

By Milton Este     Mar 13, 2013 in Technology
The internet has brought many benefits from communications to accessibility, and even to job creations. However, it has also brought the need to protect ourselves with the latest tools to prevent identity theft, breaches, and more.
Every single day, countless governments, corporations, and institutions are targeted in some way. Sometimes successful, sometimes not. However, as technology sophisticates so does our need for security and protection.
Forbes outlines the recent cyber attacks affecting corporations, governments, and other institutions. Here is just an outline of the damages caused:
For starters, Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) was hacked and as a result was offline for 24 days costing the company an estimated $171 million. Meanwhile, clientele information is just as valuable seen through hackers exposing credit card holders' information for about 360,000 Citigroup clienteles. Finally, probably some of the most well known attacks are against the United States Government by hackivist group Annonymous. Annonymous has been responsible for numerous denial of service (DDOS) attacks against the United States government website as well as the webpage for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
While they may be doing some questionable ethical activities, it's in everybody's best interest for personal information be kept personal and confidential. While most sites are equipped with SSL Certification, DDOS protection, and variant encryption, no solution is perfect and these securities are occasionally breached.
While the average day computer user has some form of computer antivirus and internet security suite installed, hackers are coming up with clever ways to bypass these so called protection. However, there are some ways to combat cyber attacks for the average household user.
While most do not have a lot of experience with virtual machines, they are still a great way to take the basic precautions. It is true more and more attacks are finding their way around this, virtual machines, nevertheless, still offer a level of protection beyond most antiviruses.
Next off, the unpopular choice is probably the popular choice. Although may sound contradictory at first, but it definitely holds true. While the personal market is primarily Windows dominated, it's not a bad idea to give linux a try. There are an abundant amount of linux distributions that are worth a look. Here is a list of some of the more popular distributions to consider:
- Linux Mint
- Ubuntu
- OpenSUSE
- PuppyLinux
- PinguyOS
Now, it's true no operating system is perfect, linux distributions are generally much safer. With its lack of popularity, it makes little sense to waste valuable time developing attacks in hopes to encounter a linux system.
However, as the guys over at HotHardware put it, the benefit of having open source code is the ability for any individual to improve on it and add security features previously not thought of. Saying this, the opposite holds true with closed source operating systems such as Windows. As users, we assume the coders of Windows have thought out potential threats and have taken the appropriate actions. But as history shows, Windows does have more security issues than any other operating system, in fact, all other operating systems put together.
These two solutions take more time to execute and put in play, the Department of Homeland Security offers some basic tips all internet surfers should be following by now. These are very straightforward including verifying emails received before clicking on the link, verifying the authenticity of the link, and setting secure passwords. Microsoft actually provides a very comprehensive guide as to just how exactly can one set a secure password, which you can check out at their Safety & Security Center.
Finally, focusing more on the network, certain activities can be taken to ensure the safety of your network. For starters, focus on network based mitigation such as installing IDS/IPS with the ability to track floods and firewall capable of dropping packets preventing them from entering the internal server. This requires the knowledge of knowing how to block unwanted traffic. Next and lastly is the host based mitigation involving enabling open HTTP sessions to time out after a certain duration, which also applies for TCP as well. In addition, it is also a good idea to install a host-based firewall to prevent HTTP threads for attack packets. As for the actual security solutions, Sophos offers products for home and business protection to consider.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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