Monday, September 7, 2009

Cyber Security for Kids

If you think your kids now just need to be protected from strangers offering them candy or from cars while crossing the streets, then you have another thing coming. Your children need a whole new level of protection especially in this age of computers and the internet. More and more kids are having easier access to the internet. According to some studies, more than 80% of teenagers in the US have access to the internet at home. The parents should take an active role in teaching their children proper cyber security measures.

Most of the time these kids who access the net are not careful enough when giving out personal information online. They don’t realize yet the risks of not having confidential and personal information protected online. From virus, to hackers, to identity thieves, these people are lurking in cyberspace waiting for that opportunity. I can only stress the importance of cyber security for kids.

Now there are several ways where you can help instill to your children the proper ways of accessing, behaving and protecting themselves online. One of the more common venue where your children go on the web is the social network sites where they have online profiles, photos and keep blogs or online journals. Remind your kids that not to accept all those you invite them to be their online friend especially if they don’t know that person.

The problem with these social network sites is that once you add someone as a friend, you can be viewed by friends included in his own network which most of time you don’t even know. These are venues where scrupulous individuals can gain access to your personals.

To monitor their browsing activities or encourage them to ask questions, place your computer in an area of the house where there’s heavy foot traffic. This will make it easy for them to call your attention to their monitor if they want to ask questions or show you something. This also discourages them from visiting lewd and pornographic websites.

These websites are not only inappropriate but are also a repository of malware, spyware and virus applications that can destroy files and even your whole computer system. In this regard, it would be best to use controlling mechanisms like content blockers which prohibits them to access certain websites and also monitoring application so you can take a look later what they actually look for in the net.

It is always good to engage your children in a healthy conversation about the things that did or things they can do online. This way you can teach them proper ways or help develop good habits that will ensure their safety online. You can also teach them the pros and cons of social networking, online file sharing, and even the issues of software piracy and illegal downloads. These are part of increasing their knowledge and understanding about the technology of computers and the net as well as cyber security.

You should always remember that children’s predisposition of being still curious, innocent, and sometimes their desire to be independent can cause them to be careless. That is why ordinary safeguards are not enough when it comes to protection your kids on cyberspace. The previously mentioned cyber security measures for kids are not just an introduction.

You will have to know for a fact your kids computer habits and then learn how you can better protect them.

Family Cyber Security

Keeping your family safe today takes on another additional front – online or the Net. The perils that you and your family face whenever anyone is online are just as dangerous as in real life. There simply is a need for cyber security to minimize, if not totally deflect, these dangers.

Cyber security is not just to protect you and your children from online dangers. It is also to ensure that your computer is safe and secure – from your children. By following some simple computer practices, these dangers can be lessened.

The usual safeguards may not be adequate. Children, by nature, are curious and inquisitive. They like to pry things, satisfy their natural need to know.

As parents, there is a delicate balance on how long the lease we give out to kids to satisfy their natural need and the necessity to protect themselves from the outside world and from themselves.

A child out into the Net, either playing a game, researching materials for homework or a term paper can be potentially harmed. Common accidents would be your child stumbling into a porn site, getting into malicious web pages that infect your computer, or inadvertently erasing your own computer’s files.

Mistakes like these happen and your child may not be aware of them. Or if they are, they may not inform you what happened for fear of punishment.

Another fearsome threat is the ‘online predator’. Because of the Internet’s natural cover for anonymity, these people deceive and manipulate other online users to get what they want. Adults are common victims of these people, and it follows that children are even more susceptible to their dangerous manipulative schemes.

The following are some suggested safeguards in implementing cyber security in the family.

Be involved with your children’s activities
There are some activities you can do with your kids that will in effect allow you to supervise their activities. If this is not possible, you can always monitor their computer use – which sites they visit, the activities they do online, etc. If they are using emails and chat rooms, try to follow who they are corresponding with, and whether they actually know them.

Rules and danger warnings
The children should be made aware about online dangers. They must be able to recognize suspicious behavior or activities from the Net.

This will help you set out boundaries on their computer use. Everything, of course, should be appropriate for their age, knowledge and level of maturity. It is not correct to scare them, but to make them be alert and aware. This includes sites they are allowed to visit, programs they can use, and activities they can do.

Separate accounts and other controls
Today’s operating systems already carries the option of creating different user accounts on one computer. You can create separate accounts for them to protect your own files and data from accidentally accessed, modified, or – horrors! – deleted.

If you don’t have separate accounts, consider limiting the functionality of your browser (like remembering passwords, other information, etc.) to preclude accidental access.
It is here that it is important to keep your anti-virus utility, firewalls, and other safeguards up to date and active.

Some browsers allow you to restrict viewing certain web sites and protect these settings with a password. (click Tools, select Internet Options, choose the Content tab, click Enable under Content Advisor, etc.)

Some service providers also offer services that protect children who go online. They can help filter and block sites that are not suited to children. The Internet is also full of special programs for children’s protection. Check those that suits your needs best.

Open communications and computers
Set your computer in an open area of the house where everyone can monitor anyone’s computer activities. It can deter children from doing things not allowed.

Most important, communication lines between all members of the family should be kept open. The children must know that they can approach their parents at anytime about anything they see on the computer.

This is very important, not just for cyber security, but also for the family’s well-being as a whole, whether anybody is online or not.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Your Browser – Cyber Security’s 1st Line of Defense

Nowadays, many people seemed to have forgotten the importance (and the inherent dangers) of their computer’s browser. They forgot that the browser, per se, works like a two-way street. It is where cyber security should police the two-way cyber traffic.

A web browser’s main job is to find and display web pages. From there, it makes possible the “communication” between your computer and the web server where a site is located.

Cyber security risks
But, your browser is also – and this is the dangerous part – the gateway of the cyber world into your computer. And, not all of the things from the Internet going inside your computer are good. Some are downright risky.

Today’s browser is sophisticated enough, through the years of innovation, to handle the multiple applications needed to surf the Internet. Many of these try to boost up and heighten the surfing experience by enabling your browser’s functionalities.

But sometimes, these functionalities are not needed and they can leave your computer vulnerable. It is therefore safe to disable them until they are needed.

In a perfect world, one should set one’s browser security to the highest level possible. But these settings may restrict the functionality of other features and prevents some web pages to load properly. The best compromise solution would be to set your browser to the highest security level (to prevent attacks) but at the same time enabling some features to work when you need them.

Today’s many browsers are mostly graphical browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, AOL, Opera, Safari for the Macintosh, and Lynx for the visually-impaired users.) These are capable of playing video and audio clips, aside from displaying texts and graphics. Most have user-friendly tabs and options in choosing your preferred security level setting.

It is important to know and be familiar with your browser and how it is different from the others. It will come in handy when you evaluate and determine the features and setting most appropriate for your use.

For instance, to explore the basic security options in Windows’ Internet Explorer, you click Tools on the menu bar, select Internet Options, choose the Security tab, and click the Custom level. In Firefox, you click Tools first, select Options, and then click Content Privacy and Security tabs. The others have their own path systems.

Choosing your browser
Security should be paramount in choosing your browser. But, of course, given one’s particular needs in surfing and using the Internet, other considerations are just as important. Sometimes, a browser comes packaged with the operating system. It should not limit, however, your choice.

Compatibility – does your browser work with the OS (operating system) of your computer?

Ease – are you comfortable and familiar with the options, menus, system of your browser?

Function –will it still work if other plug-ins or other devices are installed?

Appeal – do you like how your browser looks and works?

Functionalities - Your browser should be able to give you the option of putting web sites into different segments, or zones, and define different security restrictions for each. The best protection should be to set the security to the highest level, or maintain it at a medium level.

If you know of some sites which can be classified as trusted, you can set your browser setting accordingly. You may require them to implement SSL or Secure Sockets Layer so you can verify if they are what they claim to be. Note, however, that it is good to avoid lowering your security levels with them. If they are attacked, you might be included.

You may restrict particular sites you are not sure of. Prevention is always the best cure for any disease, real-life or online.

Be careful about your Java and ActiveX controls. These scripts, used to achieve certain appearances or functionality, can be used in attacking your computer. This is also true about Plug-ins, those additional software that enhances the function of some programs. Make sure that the sites that installing them are trustworthy.

For safety, it is advisable to disable Cookies and enable them only if the site you trust requires them.

Cyber Security starts first in your browser. It is best that you start the safeguarding process from there, your computer’s door to the wide, wild world of cyber space.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Why Do We Need Cyber Security?

Why do we need cyber security? There a number of reasons. The cyber community changes in an unbelievable pace. Unfortunately, along with these changes are equally unbelievable threats. The nature of the Internet as a tool for communication and education has been used and misused for personal gain, which resulted in cyber attacks and unprecedented rise in cyber crime rates. These rates are expected to increase more rapidly in the coming years if cyber security is not put in place. So, why exactly do we need cyber security? Let us count the reasons.

1.) Hackers are everywhere. He can be your business rival, your neighbor, or simply a person out to take over your computer. He makes use of software loopholes and hijacks your computer through backdoors, usually installed programs, or through cracking software. When he finally marches into your computer, he can gain access to possibly all your personal and confidential information such as bank accounts, credit cards, or top trade secret. He can also use your computer to attack other networks, with you apparently oblivious to all his malicious operations.

2.) Internet scams and frauds are rampant. These include phishing, a very organized cyber crime, which deceives people into giving their banking details. Cyber criminals, pretending to be representatives from legitimate financial institutions, send e-mail messages and ask unsuspecting people to verify their passwords, account numbers, and other vital information. According to a report, in 2006 alone, phishing attempts increased by 81%. These attempts could effectively be counterattacked if they weren’t too sophisticated to actually deaden spam filters.

3.) Cyber theft is a common cyber crime. In fact, it is the most reported. Over time, it has increasingly become so easy for cyber criminals to steal information from computers, not only from individuals but for companies, banks, and other organizations as well. Though they hardly report the case, big companies lose large amounts of money.

4.) Virus can slow down your computer. Worse, it can cause system crash. Virus reaches your system through a number of entryways. One is through unsecured and unknown websites from which you download files, programs, applications, or tools for free. As much as it can infect home computers, virus can leave damaging effects to companies, both big and small. For instance, Melissa virus hit Microsoft and other big companies in 1999, which led them to temporarily terminate their e-mail systems.

5.) Spyware, as the name hints, can spy on you. A computer program automatically installed on your computer, spyware tracks personal information you entered and sends it to its creator. In most cases, spyware is used to steal big sum of money. Unlike computer viruses, spyware leaves the computer owners totally unaware of its presence. A study revealed that 92% of users with infected systems don’t know that spyware has broken into their computers.

6.) Adware can keep unwanted ads to show up. Like spyware, adware penetrates the system through shareware. On its own, it downloads ads and allows them to run and pop up. This proves to be quite annoying for computer owners. But what’s even more troubling is that adware can sometimes contain spyware. This increases the risk for cyber threats.

Why do we need cyber security? Cyber criminals are smart beings. They find ways to get into our systems and create havoc in less time than we expect. And because they don’t cease to innovate and produce more sophisticated threats, we should always put our guard on and reinforce whatever cyber security measures we have these days.

All About Cyber Security

In this age of technology and communication convergence, you cannot help but be involved in technologies and innovations that revolve around computers, cellular phones and the World Wide Web. But as we go around our daily lives with these technologies and what not, there are times that we begin to feel really paranoid on our own safety.

May it be our physical safety or the security of our personal hardware and software. What is cyber security all about? It is in fact protecting your personal information or any kind of digital asset stored in your computer or in any digital storage device.

The first thing that you will have to understand is the kinds of threats that you could encounter in cyber space. There are different kinds of threats and each one has their own degrees of seriousness which require their own levels of solutions. The higher level the threat, the more advance or complicated the approach to implement safety measures to protect yourself from such harm.

From simple malicious codes, otherwise called as malware and spywares to serious virus that can erase the whole contents of your computer and hackers that can access and use your personal information for their own personal gain, these are the risks that you will need to address.

Oftentimes, those malicious codes or malware pass through your security system when you access a particular website or even when you open an email. These codes, exploit the loopholes in various applications and insert themselves within the computer system which enable them to replicate and infect other computers by attaching themselves to the emails that you send out or through your local network. These malicious codes are sometimes quite tricky. They claim to do something but instead they will go on a totally different path in infecting your system. These malicious codes are not isolated to malware and spyware but also refer to virus and worms which are deadlier and cause more harm.

Even though those malicious codes are quite harmful, another dangerous intruder would be hackers or attackers. No matter how you look at it, virus and worms can only do what the original programmer has intended it to do. But hackers are people and they can get the information they want and use it for their own benefit. Sometimes hackers are just testing their skills and deliberately invade your system not because they want your info for personal gain but because they are just plain curious or are just doing some mischief.

It is these kinds of things that you need to avoid that is why you have to know about cyber security and know how to handle the various threats. You will need to know how vulnerable your computers are. You have to loon into your firewall and virus protection software to se if your current setup can prevent attacks from the outside.

This is why it is important to continuously update your software since new threats are being created everyday and having an updated system can help protect you from being attacked. Another precautionary measure would be to create passwords. The passwords will serve as a deterrent and help you keep your whole system protected.

With proper protection installed, you can keep your files and information safe. It is very important that you keep in mind cyber security. Cyber security is all about keeping your information safe from those who wish to access them. It is an important aspect of our lives and should never be disregarded most especially in today’s computer age.

Cyber Security

The computer was originally created as a harmless aid to do complex processes. Over the years, however, the harmless machine, which is charged with almost limitless potential, has become the ground work for cyber crimes. These crimes, which affect individuals, organizations, and even governments, call for tight cyber security to cut short the possibilities of inflicting further harm. But what is cyber security exactly? And how does this protect the whole cyber community?

The proliferation of cyber crimes

In 2007, a report identified 500,000 computers as “zombies” after being hijacked by hackers. “Zombie” computers respond to the prompting of the hackers and allow them to freely break into the systems and gain access to important files and personal information through backdoors. This can inflict danger—from making unauthorized purchases through someone else’s credit card to imposing threats to the national security.

There is no solid figure just how many affected computers there are now today, but reports said the numbers are higher. In fact, there was not a point of dwindling down; hacking has been projecting an upward trend. Proof to that is the unbelievably high cyber crime rate in 2008.

The current crisis in cyber insecurity puts many banks, airports, hospitals, and governments in the danger zone. It opens more opportunities to identity theft, virus dissemination, system breakdown, and other similar cyber crimes. In a much larger scale, it makes launching highly sophisticated terrorist attacks much easier.

Here comes the rescuer

To avoid such threats, computer users are advised to take cyber security measures. Cyber security is a set of techniques or guides that aim at protecting systems from any form of cyber attacks, which may creep into the system in the form of malware (virus and spyware), intruders, and hackers. Cyber security also lessens the risk of falling prey to Internet frauds, scams, and bogus transactions.

Individual users and organizations are liable to keep their computers updated, loaded with the latest security technologies, and regularly checked by a security technician. The goal here is for every computer owner to be individually responsible for his system’s security. And education plays a major part. Authorities recommend every computer owner to be informed about the latest trends in cyber crimes as well as the latest security technologies to abort any threat of attacks.

There are also efforts from the government, computer companies, digital experts, and other parties to come up with a more secure, stricter, and restructured cyber environment that is regulated by enforced laws and technological systems. With the existing setup, hackers and other cyber criminals reign free in the Internet, but further security and system developments in the cyber community will allow for more fluid Internet usage and transactions with lesser risk for frauds and cyber attacks.

Globally, however, much should be done. Currently, law enforcement faces limitations in many countries for many reasons. In some instances, local concerns and issues overshadow the need for implementing efficient cyber security measures. But cyber security can’t be employed by only two to three governments alone. Cyber crimes affect all nations where the Internet holds a primary place in running the government, military, economy, business, and other vital sectors. And if one nation is heavily compromised, it is not impossible for the world as a whole to become a cyber crime victim.

So, what is cyber security? It is the world’s counterattack to the damaging threats of the virtual world called the Internet. And it calls everyone to action.