Cyber Threats And Defenses And Their Global Implications

In the beginning of the semester, before each class, I was assigned to read about cybersecurity in the news. A topic that I brought up was that the Apple App Store was removing Onavo, a VPN app owned by Facebook, for violating guidelines on data collection. Facebook’s invasive data collection is especially concerning, considering how many times they’ve lost user data in the past. We also talked about Google’s two factor security key. The adoption of physical security keys for two factor authentication could have a huge global impact, reducing phishing attempts, keeping personal information secure, and saving companies billions of dollars.

Recently, we discussed how Google was fined by the EU for antitrust violations. This is globally significant because all websites that provide services overseas must comply with EU laws in order to avoid millions of dollars in fines. In the TED Talk, Marc Goodman explains how someone could bring a gun into the UK by bringing a 3D printer and printing the gun and bullets after you’ve entered the country. This makes it even harder to prevent criminals from sneaking guns into another country; the only way to prevent it is by banning 3D printers, and even then, someone could buy one once they make it into the country. This is nearly impossible to prevent and could lead to a global increase of shootings and other attacks. In 2007, Estonia relocated the Bronze Soldier, which led to riots and outrage.

In response to the relocation, hacktivists launched distributed denial-of-service attacks using botnets and took down the electronic infrastructure of Estonia. This attack drew global attention and led to an increased focus on cybersecurity. 2 Discover methods to protect their micro and macro systems through illustration of how attacks take place and different countermeasures Passwords can be hacked through brute force attacks or dictionary attacks. Personally, I was guilty of using the same three passwords for almost one hundred accounts. After watching the TED talk from Lorrie Crainor and completing the Open Learn lesson, I used iCloud Keychain to generate very complex passwords for every single account I had. I also set up two-factor authentication for Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

These countermeasures will prevent anyone else from gaining access to my accounts. The best way to protect against identity theft by installing an antivirus software, regularly updating software and operating systems, and by ignoring phishing emails. Living on a college campus, the chances of someone stealing one of my devices is higher than if I lived at home. There’s a higher chance of me being stupid and leaving my laptop somewhere because I’m running around campus all day. If someone were to steal my laptop, I wouldn’t want them to have access to my social media profiles or my bank account. By setting up a pin on my laptop and setting it to lock after a short period of inactivity, my personal accounts are more secure. On my iPhone, I set up Find My iPhone, which lets me remotely wipe my phone if it gets stolen. To prevent my laptop from being infected with malware, I created an administrator account and changed my current account to user.

I only use the admin account for updates or software downloads. I also set up Windows Defender Firewall on my laptop since I connect to dorm Wi-Fi. Before taking this class, I never thought about flash drives being infected with malware. I mostly used cloud storage in high school, but a couple of my friends used flash drives. Our library let us check out flash drives to use and return; I’m not sure if they made sure they were empty before checking them out. Email is not encrypted, so it leaves emails vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack. Cmail is already encrypted by the school, but my personal email is not. Based on Open Learn’s suggestion, I set up GPG4Win to encrypt emails on my Outlook account. For businesses or organizations, running Splunk is an efficient way to monitor machine data for suspicious activity.

It can be used to search through logs, create alerts, automatic reports, visualize data and detect an attack. IBM banned the use of flash drives within the company. Another way to prevent falling victim to phishing attacks is to educate employees about how to recognize a social engineering attack. 3 Develop cyber defense mechanisms through simple scripting and installation of software tools and patches I developed cyber defense mechanisms by using Windows Defender, automating system updates, using a password manager, configuring a personal firewall, and by using Splunk to collect machine data. I also installed Bitlocker for disk encryption and GPG4Win for email encryption. 4 Analyze types of attacks, adversaries, and targets Distributed denial-of-service attack occurs when multiple devices flood a network or server with traffic and make the servers stop responding. This can happen during Black Friday, when a website is flooded with more traffic than usual.

This kind of attack can also be launched by using botnets. A denial-of-service attack occurs when one user floods a network or server with requests and makes the website stop responding. This is the type of attack that was used in the 2007 Estonia cyber-attack. A malware attack is a cyber-attack in which software harms a person’s device and performs actions without the consent of the owner. Adware, spyware, viruses, worms, trojans, and ransomware attacks are common types of malware. I remember a few years ago, my mom got adware on her laptop and her screen was covered in pop-ups and huge ads with fake exit buttons that would just lead to more ads and it was the worst. Social engineering is the use of deception and manipulation to obtain confidential or sensitive information from others.

The most common social engineering attack is phishing. Phishing is used to gain access to sensitive information, like bank accounts or credit card numbers. It often looks legitimate and official, which is why so many people fall for these attacks. Spear phishing attacks are customized to a specific person. As discussed in class, someone could impersonate Professor Affonso and send an email to another professor asking him to click on a link and print out an assignment; the email is customized and appears to come from a trustworthy sender, but the link will take the victim to an infected or illegitimate website. Pre-texting is a type of social engineering attack in which a person lies to gain access to sensitive information. The attacker may pretend to work in IT and ask an employee for brief access to their computer.

Baiting depends upon the curiosity and greed of the victim. An attacker may leave a physical device, such as a flash drive infected with malware, on a desk with the expectation that someone will “take the bait.” Quid pro quo is when the attacker promises something in exchange for information from the victim. One example of this kind of attack is when a pop up appears on your screen telling you that your device has been infected. On the pop up, they offer to remove the malware if you click a button giving them permission. Tailgating is when someone without access to a building follows behind someone who does and slips through the open door. This kind of attack relies on the compassion and politeness of others, as no one wants to be rude and shut a door in someone’s face. The two types of password attacks are brute force attacks and dictionary attacks. Brute force attacks are when a computer methodically goes through all possible passwords.

Dictionary attacks are when a computer goes through all words in the dictionary and even common phrases to try to gain access to an account. A man-in-the-middle attack occurs when an attacker intercepts the communication between two parties and controls the conversation. Usual targets of these attacks are networks, websites, blogs, social media, servers, and workstations. The four types of adversaries behind cyber-attacks are cybercriminals, spies, hacktivists, and insider attackers. 5 Assess the risks and benefits of taking cybersecurity into account for decision making and predict outcomes through use cases. On October 12th, Steven Cardinal, interim CISO from MUSC, gave a presentation at the cybersecurity club about career paths in infosec. He said that the hardest thing about implementing ways to make accounts and information more secure is convincing the employees to actually use it. He said that MUSC had been using a two-factor authentication system with phone calls, but employees would either ignore the calls or verify them even though they had not tried to sign in to their email.

Because of the lack of compliance, foreign hackers were able to bypass the phone authentication system. MUSC had to switch to the Microsoft Authenticator app for two-factor authentication. Someone in the club asked why they didn’t just use fingerprints to sign in instead of passwords. Cardinal explained that each fingerprint would have to be stored on a server, and unlike passwords, once your fingerprint has been stolen, you can’t make a new one. While the phone authentication system was supposed to make the email accounts at MUSC more secure, human error allowed for foreigners to gain access to sensitive information. When taking cybersecurity into account for decision making, one must remember that humans are the weakest link. Cardinal is trying to correct this by educating users on why these extra steps are important instead of just telling them to do it. EXTRA CREDIT In September, I brought my brother to class with me and showed him around campus.

He was really surprised by how much different this class was from his high school classes. I don’t think he’s taken any of Professor Affonso’s advice, but he has the material for when he’s ready. I’m currently talking to my friend Josh, a senior in high school, and I’m hoping to take him to the cybersecurity class next semester and cybersecurity club. This month, I attended B-Sides and went to a couple presentations. I learned that I should prioritize going to workshops next time since all the presentations would be uploaded online. I’m really glad I went because I got to talk with Dr. X and Professor Affonso. And, during the last cybersecurity club meeting, she remembered my name! 

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Cyber Threats And Defenses And Their Global Implications. (2023, Jan 15). Retrieved from