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Security and Privacy on the Internet

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Essay title: Security and Privacy on the Internet

Many users are subject of Security and Privacy on the Internet issue. The term “information” now is more used when defining a special product or article of trade which could be bought, sold, exchanged, etc. Often the price of information is higher many times than the cost of the very computers and technologies where it is functioning. Naturally it raises the need of protecting information from unauthorized access, theft, destruction, and other crimes. However, many users do not realize that they risk their security and privacy online.

First, I want to describe who the subjects of the issue are. In my opinion, the issue is the most relevant for the private and commercial information. Home users risk their security while connected to Internet. It is obvious that many people store private information such as Social Security and credit card numbers, as it is more convenient than to enter them every time completing a form for an online purchase. Hackers do not have to attack every user individually, they write special viruses named “Worms” and “Trojan horses” which, once run, could spread in a global scale. These programs may have different functions from gathering personal data to logging pressed keys and e-mailing the information to a hacker. Even if a user does not keep any valuable information, his or her computer does have a value for a hacker. “If you think that your small computer could not become an object of offence because it is very small, then you are mistaken. Even if it doesn’t contain anything worthwhile, it could be perfectly used for breaking in other, more significant system.” (A. Zaharchenko, Futurology without future [Computerra], 2002).

Not rarely, competing entrepreneurs with the help of unlawful means want to get information and use it for their advantages in the business. Usually valuable information is stored in companies’ computers in non-encrypted form or could be easily accessed. Internet could be used by rivals or criminals just as a mean to access such information. If consider such fact that almost any organization today uses Internet as it uses telephone, the scales of the issue become global.

As an example I would like to describe my experience working at a relatively small fruit import company. The management of this firm gets information, makes orders, and carries almost all negotiations via the e-mail. “To minimize the risk of any disclosure or loss of confidential data, it is important to understand where the risks are, and implement office management practices and appropriate technology to ensure all of your data remains confidential and secure,” advises article IDS: Classification (2002, December4). The potential loss or disclosure of information could occur through various ways: vulnerabilities of operation systems (mostly Microsoft products), vulnerabilities of e-mail software, viruses and malicious software, and weak passwords. It is relatively easy to protect electronic information in this case, but it does take some time and effort, which could be difficult for managers, who do not have an expertise in computers.

Next I would like to speak about effective measures to protect data. Selection of security means should be based on an effective protection and meanwhile should be convenient. As advises article Anonymity for lazy people (2004, June 17), “You need to find a balance between the allowable risk and an acceptable cost and effort”.

In a company, which I was discussing above, the first software concerning security that was installed was firewall. In my experience, firewalls are most effective of software means which deal with Internet security. The basic function of firewall is blocking ports, such as file sharing ports 135, 445 etc. According to Zone Labs experts (, when these ports are accessed from Internet, not local network, they are usually attacks of worms or hackers. As practice shows, properly configured firewall may block almost all dangerous inbound traffic. In the same time, it decreases the necessity of regular updating of operation systems (Windows update), because system becomes less vulnerable to attacks from Internet. Another important feature of firewalls is a capability to control programs so that user may disable them accessing Internet in case they are not recognized as legitimate. There are many firewalls that are accessible to users. The most widely used are Norton Personal Firewall and McAfee Personal Firewall. The service packs of Windows XP also include firewalls, but they have proven to be not totally reliable.

Antivirus software is essential for any computer, especially one connected to Internet. Antivirus software effectively protects from virus and worm infections, but it may slow computer down. After installation, the software may constantly monitor other programs running on your computer. It will attempt to stop all virus activity

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