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The Role Of Information Security

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In this current era, the power of personal information are sought after not only by advertising companies and governments but also by other malicious individuals. This may lead to technology users facing various threats when they use the Internet, email, mobile devices and even cloud technologies. People generally use technologies for web surfing, storing data, chatting with one another, handling transactions and etc. However, it is important to note that these technologies were initially invented for sharing information and therefore may not have sufficient security coverage for it’s large amount of users. When there is a leakage of confidential or important information, it may lead to loss of data and loss of trust from clients thus affecting financial revenue as well as identity fraud and identity theft.

The flourish of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence has also made intelligence gathering of confidential information and data analysis much simpler. This is especially so as businesses have learned that collecting data is a major priority for marketing by gaining insight on consumers behavioural habits. The term “threats” and “strategies” can be defined as a possibility of trouble or danger occurring and having a plan of action in order to achieve a long-term or overall aim. It is therefore important to find out the threats of using technologies and finding out how to implement security measures so that it will eventually lead to an improved internet user safety. This essay will discuss threats users faces when using the internet, email, mobile devices and cloud technologies.

Firstly, there are various threats faced by technology users while using the Internet. Web browser features may enhance a user’s browsing experience but it also carry risks to the operating system and applications. For instance, features such as Oracle Java can make web browsers vulnerable to hacking. Microsoft Active X which can be found on Internet Explorer 11 has also been known to be exploited for installing malwares. Cookies can also pose data breach when a user’s browsing history is tracked. While surfing the internet, you may get redirected to malicious websites and experience pop-up ads on your web browser which may in turn infect your device with malwares. Children using the Internet also face cyber bullying and tend to divulge personal information which can be taken advantage of by cyber criminals. Cordero (2018) stated that social networks reveal the personal interests, environment and location of internet users which can compromise the security and safety of users when infiltrated by hackers planning to misuse these sensitive information. For instance, hackers may steal the identity of users to illegally take loans, purchase items on credit, obtain genuine documents of users such as driving licenses and passports as well as sending malwares to other people. This can cause not only financial loss, but also put the person’s reputation among friends and family at risk.

Additionally, legal action may be taken against the user for crimes he or she did not commit. Harris (2018) stated that in the world today where connected devices far outnumber the population of people, the National Cyber Security Alliance found that almost 50 percent of small businesses have experienced a cyber attack, and more than 70 percent of attacks are targeted on small businesses leading to 60 percent of hacked small and medium-sized businesses to go out of business after six months. For instance, hackers may introduce malwares such as ransomware and root kit to a company website by exploiting security loopholes. Once the hacker gains control of the system, they can remotely modify security settings, steal critical information, attack other computers and even encrypt the software and hardware of the affected computer and demanding ransom to be paid for recovery of data. This can result in financial loss, loss of important data and most importantly loss of trust with customers. This can be prevented by adjusting browser settings, updating browser patches regularly and installing security plug-ins. Therefore, using the Internet can cause exposure to various threats for technology users.

Secondly, technology users also face various threats when using email services. An email is used to communicate electronically from one computer to another using the Internet. Email threats stems from the fact that before the email is received, it is stored on the mail service provider’s servers thus making it available to whoever has access to the servers. Emails may also contain malware in their attachments or embedded malicious scripts and install unwanted programs such as spyware. Users can choose an email client by looking at the security coverage, privacy policy and settings, design and reliability. McMillan (2018) stated that spam emails can be annoying to users and burdensome to email administrators who must deal with the usage of extra storage space on the servers for spam emails. For instance, spam emails pollutes the Internet with irrelevant content and may contain illegal or unreliable content. It may destroy a company’s reputation by masquerading and spamming it’s clients. Spam emails can also redirect people to useless or harmful websites. Rowlingson (2011) found that the content of emails are visible to any computer handling it as it travels from source to destination. For instance, all recipients of an email that is sent to multiple people can view the email addresses of other recipients unless blind carbon-copy (BCC) option is used. Emails can also be forged by hackers by modifying an email to make users believe that a legitimate user has sent the email. It is usually drafted in a way to frighten or bait users into taking actions that they should not. This can be mitigated by using HTTP-enabled email service provider, using email filtering and scanning emails for malwares. Therefore emails can also pose various threats to users.

Technology users also face threats when using their mobile devices. Mobile devices has become a part of our lives in this modern era. Since it has been integrated into our lifestyle, users have taken to storing a lot of personal information on their mobile devices. This can cause serious issues when mobile thefts occur and even mobile security breaches. A mobile device only has a mobile operating system as a security measure. It does not have a firewall like a computer does. Therefore it is extremely important that the mobile operating system is not breached by hackers and malicious softwares. Dunham (2008) found that iPhones became vulnerable to domain name server (DNS) cache poisoning when a recent patch was not applied in July 2008. For instance, by failing to update mobile apps and operating system, it may result in vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers thus leading to a compromised security for the phone. Hackers may gain administrative access on the victim’s phone allowing them to make a lot of changes to the operating system including stealing data. Mobile devices uses common wireless network interfaces such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi both of which are susceptible to eavesdropping attempts by hackers (Huat, Jeffrey, Leong and Leng, n.d.). For instance, insufficient transport layer protection may result in man-in-the-middle-attack whereby an attacker positions himself in between two parties such as a mobile phone and the server so that he can intercept and alter data. This can result in data loss for users. The risk of mobile device security breach can be reduced by ensuring updates of recent patches for mobile apps and operating system as soon as it is released and securing Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections via using strong security passwords as well as changing the network name. Thus, mobile devices can also pose security threats to users as well.

Cloud technologies may seem safe at a glance but they can also pose various threats for it’s users. A cloud service is where data can be stored remotely on a network of Internet services. The architectures of cloud can be categorised into four types. They are private cloud, public cloud, community cloud and hybrid cloud. Cloud computing services also comes in three categories. Firstly, Infrastructure as a Service offers only network and storage space. Platform as a Service offers a suite of services such as maintenance services. Lastly, Software as a Service offers applications managed by the cloud completely for it’s users own use. Cloud computing is very cost efficient as users do not need to invest on the physical hardware but instead pay only for the amount of storage space they need. However, using cloud services comes with risks as well. Chen, Choo, Grushka and Jensen (2010) proposed that since cloud services are built using the same technologies as other computer networking systems it will also face the similar security challenges (as cited in Ko and Choo, 2015). For instance, since multiple users are sharing and storing data on a single cloud server it makes it easier for a cloud user to peep on another user’s data. Yeo (2017) stated that while cloud attacks are new, widespread outage of cloud services which causes a denial of services in 2016 serves as a warning on how vulnerable cloud services are to malicious attacks. For instance, the cloud software may have loopholes that re exposed from time to time leaving it vulnerable to exploitations. A cloud data breach also has a far more damaging than a regular data breach for a computer as it involves multiple users being placed in the hands of the attacker in a single instance. It is therefore important to ensure that your data is encrypted so that even if it falls into the hands of a hacker, it cannot be misused. Backing up your data regularly using a dual backup system will also help in the event of data loss. It is also important to avoid storing sensitive information on the cloud so that it cannot be misused or get stolen from you. Therefore cloud technologies also brings along various threats that users have to face.

Therefore technology users need to know about the risks that the Internet, email, mobile devices and cloud technologies carries so as to ensure that they are able to take precautionary measures in ensuring their own safety while using these services.

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