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COMPUTER SECURITY AND ETHICS

INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER SECURITY

Computer security is the process of preventing and detecting unauthorized use of your computer. Prevention measures help to stop unauthorized users also known as intruder from accessing any part of your computer system. Detection helps to determine whether or not someone attempted to break into the system, if they were successful, and what they may have done.

We use computers for everything from banking and investing to shopping and communicating with others through email or chat programs. Although you may not consider your communications “top secret” you probably do not want strangers reading your email, using your computer to attack other systems, sending forged email from your computer, or examining personal information stored on your computer. Intruders also known as hackers, attackers or crackers may not care about your identity. Often they want to gain control of your computer so they can use it to launch attacks on other computer systems.

Having control of your computer gives them the ability to hide their true location as they launch attacks, often against high profile computer systems such as government or financial systems. Even if you have a computer connected to the internet only to play the latest games or to send email to friends and family, your computer may be a target. Intruders may be able to watch all your actions on the computer, or cause damage to your computer by reformatting your hard drive or changing your data.

Unfortunately, intruders are always discovering new vulnerabilities to exploit in computer software. The complexity of software makes it increasingly difficult to thoroughly test the security of computer systems. Also, some software application s have default settings that allows other users to access your computer unless you change the settings to be more secure. Examples include chat programs that let outsiders execute commands on your computer or web browsers that could allow someone to place harmful programs on your computer that run when you click on them.

 

SOURCES OF SECURITY BREACHES

1) Malware is a term that is used for malicious software that is designed to do damage or unwanted actions to a computer system. Examples of malware include the following:

  • Viruses.
  • Worms.
  • Trojan horses.
  • Spyware.
  • Rogue security software.

 

a) A computer virus is a small software program that spreads from one computer to another and interferes with computer operation. A computer virus might corrupt or delete data on a computer, use an email program to spread the virus to other computers, or even delete everything on the hard disk. Computer viruses are frequently spread by attachments in email messages or by instant messaging messages. Therefore, you must never open an email attachment unless you know who sent the message or you are expecting the email attachment. Viruses can be disguised as attachments of funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files. Computer viruses also spread through downloads on the Internet. They can be hidden in pirated software or in other files or programs that you might download.

 

b) A worm is computer code that spreads without user interaction. Most worms begin as email attachments that infect a computer when they’re opened. The worm scans the infected computer for files, such as address books or temporary webpages, that contain email addresses. The worm uses the addresses to send infected email messages, and frequently mimics (or spoofs) the “From” addresses in later email messages so that those infected messages seem to be from someone you know. Worms then spread automatically through email messages, networks, or operating system vulnerabilities, frequently overwhelming those systems before the cause is known. Worms aren’t always destructive to computers, but they usually cause computer and network performance and stability problems.

 

c) A trojan horse is a malicious software program that hides inside other programs. It enters a computer hidden inside a legitimate program, such as a screen saver. Then it puts code into the operating system that enables a hacker to access the infected computer. Trojan horses do not usually spread by themselves. They are spread by viruses, worms, or downloaded software.

 

d) Spyware can install on your computer without your knowledge. These programs can change your computer’s configuration or collect advertising data and personal information. Spyware can track Internet search habits and can also redirect your web browser to a different website than you intend to go to.

 

e) A rogue security software program tries to make you think that your computer is infected by a virus and usually prompts you to download or buy a product that removes the virus. The names of these products frequently contain words like Antivirus, Shield, Security, Protection, or Fixer. This makes them sound legitimate. They frequently run right after you download them, or the next time that your computer starts. Rogue security software can prevent applications, such as Internet Explorer, from opening. Rogue security software might also display legitimate and important Windows files as infections. Typical error messages or pop-up messages might contain the following phrases:

Warning!

Your computer is infected!

This computer is infected by spyware and adware.

If you receive a message in a popup dialog box that resembles this warning, press ALT + F4 on your keyboard to close the dialog box. Do not click anything inside the dialog box. If a warning, such as the one here, keeps appearing when you try to close the dialog box, it’s a good indication that the message is malicious.

Are you sure you want to navigate from this page?

Your computer is infected! They can cause data lost and file corruption and need to be treated as soon as possible. Press CANCEL to prevent it. Return to System Security and download it to secure your PC.

Press OK to Continue or Cancel to stay on the current page.

If you see this kind of message, then don’t download or buy the software.

 

2) Poorly implemented network.

 

3) Poorly implemented or lack of ICT policy.

 

4) Carelessness: Giving out personal and vital information on the net without careful screening.

 

5) Hackers: hacking is gaining unauthorized access to resources with the intention to cause harm.

 

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

  1. Use of antivirus software.
  2. Use of firewall.
  3. Exercising care in giving out personal and vital information.
  4. Encryptions.
  5. Proper network implementation and policy.
  6. Using sites with web certificate.
  7. Exercising care in opening email attachment.

 

COMPUTER ETHICS 

Ethics is a set of moral principles that govern the behavior of a group of individual. Computer ethics is a set of moral principles that regulate the use of computers. Some common issues of computer ethics include intellectual property rights such as copyrighted electronic content, privacy concerns, and how computers affect society. For example, while it is easy to duplicate copyrighted electronic or digital content, computer ethics would suggest that it is wrong to do so without the authors’ approval and while it may be possible to access someone’s personal information on the computer system, computer ethics would advise that such action is unethical.

As technology advances, computers continue to have a greater impact on society. Therefore, computer ethics promote the discussion of how much influence computers should have in areas such as artificial intelligence and human communication. As the world of computer evolves, computer ethics continuous to create ethical standards that address new issues raised by new technologies.

 

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF COMPUTER ETHICS

The Ten Commandments of computer ethics have been defined by the Computer Ethics Institute are:

  1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people: If it is unethical to harm people by making a bomb, for example, it is equally bad to write a program that handles the timing of the bomb. Or, to put it more simply, if it is bad to steal and destroy other people’s books and notebooks, it is equally bad to access and destroy their files.
  2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work: Computer viruses are small programs that disrupt other people’s computer work by destroying their files, taking huge amounts of computer time or memory, or by simply displaying annoying messages. Generating and consciously spreading computer viruses is unethical.
  3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s files: Reading other people’s e-mail messages is as bad as opening and reading their letters: This is invading their privacy. Obtaining other people’s non-public files should be judged the same way as breaking into their rooms and stealing their documents. Text documents on the Internet may be protected by encryption.
  4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal: Using a computer to break into the accounts of a company or a bank and transferring money should be judged the same way as robbery. It is illegal and there are strict laws against it.
  5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness: The Internet can spread untruth as fast as it can spread truth. Putting out false “information” to the world is bad. For instance, spreading false rumors about a person or false propaganda about historical events is wrong.
  6. Thou shalt not use or copy software for which you have not paid: Software is an intellectual product. In that way, it is like a book: Obtaining illegal copies of copyrighted software is as bad as photocopying a copyrighted book. There are laws against both. Information about the copyright owner can be embedded by a process called watermarking into pictures in the digital format.
  7. Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization: Multiuser systems use user id’s and passwords to enforce their memory and time allocations, and to safeguard information. You should not try to bypass this authorization system. Hacking a system to break and bypass the authorization is unethical.
  8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output: For example, the programs you write for the projects assigned in this course are your own intellectual output. Copying somebody else’s program without proper authorization is software piracy and is unethical. Intellectual property is a form of ownership, and may be protected by copyright laws.
  9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you write: You have to think about computer issues in a more general social framework: Can the program you write be used in a way that is harmful to society? For example, if you are working for an animation house, and are producing animated films for children, you are responsible for their contents. Do the animations include scenes that can be harmful to children? In the United States, the Communications Decency Act was an attempt by lawmakers to ban certain types of content from Internet websites to protect young children from harmful material. That law was struck down because it violated the free speech principles in that country’s constitution.
  10. Thou shalt use a computer in ways that show consideration and respect: Just like public buses or banks, people using computer communications systems may find themselves in situations where there is some form of queuing and you have to wait for your turn and generally be nice to other people in the environment. The fact that you cannot see the people you are interacting with does not mean that you can be rude to them.

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