Cyber security is gaining prominence in the light of increasing number of unauthorized attempts to barge into private data with the explicit aim of stealing the same to intimidate or coerce users into information blackmailing. The tools and techniques employed to tackle cyber security concerns are:
- Authentication: This fundamental cyber security technique intends to verify the identity of user based on the credentials stored in the security domain of the system. The most common mode of governance is password technology, however there are numerous other implementations like the SIM card inserted in anyone’s cell phone. SIM cards are equipped with unique ID numbers which are passed over a secure communication line for identification of a particular cell phone. The main challenge encountered in authenticating process is thwarting attempts of unauthorized people to eavesdrop on the authenticating message. The password transmitted over an insecure medium is liable to be intercepted by dishonest people who can use it to disguise as the original user. This problem is countered by encryption.
- Encryption: Encryption renders data undecipherable without application of a proper key to unlock the same. To combat an encryption, one would be required to undertake solving complicated mathematical problems like factoring large primes that would consume astronomical amount of computing resources and time. Symmetric encryption utilizes the same key for the purpose of message encoding and decoding, and the security level is similar to that of the key. The distribution of the key will be accompanied by potential security risks. Asymmetric encryption utilizes a public key to encrypt the message and a private key to decrypt the same. A majority of present day security protocols are employing asymmetric encryption for distribution of keys.
- Digital signatures: Digital signatures can be erected out of the same mathematical algorithms that are employed in asymmetric encryption. A user is free to test that he possesses a private key by getting some information encoded with it. Anyone can get the same decrypted by having the public key that will verify the person’s credentials. This process is in essence the exact reciprocal of public key encryption and likewise functions on the assumption that the authorized user only has the private key.
- Anti-virus: The threats of computer viruses or undesirable short programs that trigger unwanted commands without the explicit consent of user have assumed monstrous proportions. Anti-virus software carries out two functions; it prevents the installation of virus in a system and scans the systems for viruses that are already installed. Most viruses have been constructed to target Windows operating system as it is the most preferred computing platform of masses. Apple and Linux users can also come under the attack of viruses exclusively built for such operating systems.
- Firewall: Firewalls effectively hinders any attempt of unauthorized access to a computer when it is connected on the internet by hackers directly or via other network connections. Firewalls come bundled up with most operating systems and are turned on by default. The help of commercial firewalls can be sought if the security level of the default firewall is not strong enough or if it is posing interference to legitimate network activities.