It is no secret that we spend a substantial amount of our time on computers, browsing the internet, paying bills and sharing our lives with our friends through social media. It all seems like a harmless thing; however, some recent events have made us reconsider. Very often, headlines are filled with the news mentioning cyber attacks and what we can do to protect ourselves.
The internet is not safe, we are all aware of that, however that does not mean that we should stop using it. Over the years it has been the home to endless inspiration and impressive innovations. What we can do and what we should do is learn about the hazards threatening us on the Internet and how to deal with anything that might happen.
How it all started?
In the beginning, computers were expensive and not everyone had the privilege to have one. It was in possession of the universities, some governments and big corporations. In the 1980s, personal computers emerged and soon almost everyone had one. As technology developed, people started using their computers for much more than simple communication, for sending data, paying bills, playing games, shopping and much more.
Beside talking to each other, computers started talking to smartphones, watches and other devices. Soon, people started using the internet for everything – from calculating to transferring money abroad. With so many options, security became an issue. One computer was able to send instructions to another to delete everything on it or to take it over. These are known as viruses or malware. In order to protect themselves, people started using passwords but many identity thefts happened by extracting and guessing passwords. Criminals use viruses to steal millions of dollars, governments use them for surveillance and activists use them to spread their opinions.
The Morris Worm
The term Cyber Security was coined in 1988 when the first registered online virus caused 60’000 computers that were connected to the internet to slow down to the point they were unusable. The virus was called the Morris worm or Internet worm of November 2, 1988.
What is Cyber Security?
Cyber Security, also known as computer security or IT security, is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access.
Cyber attack is an attempt by hackers to damage or destroy a computer network or system. These attacks are broken down into two categories – Syntactic attacks and Semantic attacks.
Syntactic attacks are straightforward and are done by malicious software that includes viruses, Trojan horses and worms.
Semantic attacks are done differently. In these situations, the attacker uses the computing infrastructure to fool the victim into thinking that they are doing something differently, even thought the infrastructure is working exactly in the way it was designed to.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to data until the ransom is paid and it displays a message requesting the payments in order to unlock data. These attacks are carried out using a Trojan that has a payload disguised as a legitimate file.
A recent case of this attack caught media’s attention because the hackers requested the payment in Bitcoin – a digital currency. The victims’ computer was locked and denied access requesting at least $300 in Bitcoin in order to gain back access.
Wanna Cry is a ransomware computer worm that targets the Microsoft Windows operating system. It was used to launch the Wanna Cry attack on May 12th 2017. This is an ongoing cyber attack that encrypts data and demands ransom payments in the digital currency Bitcoin.
The virus has infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries (numbers as of Date).
Cyber attacks are a big threat to every computer. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your computer and valuable data. The most important thing is to realize the threat, and to use the internet with great care by opening only trusted files and visiting secure sites.
In our next article Cyber Security 101 (Part 2/3) we will be discussing some of the best ways to protect your computer and your data.
Manigo Team, May 2017