What is computer security?
Why should I care about computer security?
Who would want to break into my computer at home?
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.
How easy is it to break into my computer?
When holes are discovered, computer vendors will usually develop patches to address the problem(s). However, it is up to you, the user, to obtain and install the patches, or correctly configure the software to operate more securely. Most of the incident reports of computer break-ins received at the CERT/CC could have been prevented if system administrators and users kept their computers up-to-date with patches and security fixes.
Also, some software applications have default settings that allow 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.
What does broadband mean?
What is cable modem access?
Typical speeds tend to be lower than the maximum, however, since cable providers turn entire neighborhoods into LANs which share the same bandwidth. Because of this "shared-medium" topology, cable modem users may experience somewhat slower network access during periods of peak demand, and may be more susceptible to risks such as packet sniffing and unprotected windows shares than users with other types of connectivity. (See the "Computer security risks to home users" section of this document.)
What is DSL access?
DSL access is not as susceptible to packet sniffing as cable modem access, but many of the other security risks we'll cover apply to both DSL and cable modem access. (See the "Computer security risks to home users" section of this document.)
How are broadband services different from traditional dial-up services?Traditional dial-up Internet services are sometimes referred to as "dial-on-demand" services. That is, your computer only connects to the Internet when it has something to send, such as email or a request to load a web page. Once there is no more data to be sent, or after a certain amount of idle time, the computer disconnects the call. Also, in most cases each call connects to a pool of modems at the ISP, and since the modem IP addresses are dynamically assigned, your computer is usually assigned a different IP address on each call. As a result, it is more difficult (not impossible, just difficult) for an attacker to take advantage of vulnerable network services to take control of your computer.
Broadband services are referred to as "always-on" services because there is no call setup when your computer has something to send. The computer is always on the network, ready to send or receive data through its network interface card (NIC). Since the connection is always up, your computer's IP address will change less frequently (if at all), thus making it more of a fixed target for attack.
What's more, many broadband service providers use well-known IP addresses for home users. So while an attacker may not be able to single out your specific computer as belonging to you, they may at least be able to know that your service providers' broadband customers are within a certain address range, thereby making your computer a more likely target than it might have been otherwise.
The table below shows a brief comparison of traditional dial-up and broadband services.
How is broadband access different from the network I use at work?
Although your ISP is responsible for maintaining the services they provide to you, you probably won't have dedicated staff on hand to manage and operate your home network. You are ultimately responsible for your own computers. As a result, it is up to you to take reasonable precautions to secure your computers from accidental or intentional misuse.
What is a protocol?
What is IP?
An overview of TCP/IP can be found in the TCP/IP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) at
What is an IP address?
If you need to make a telephone call but you only know the person's name, you can look them up in the telephone directory (or call directory services) to get their telephone number. On the Internet, that directory is called the Domain Name System, or DNS for short. If you know the name of a server, say www.cert.org, and you type this into your web browser, your computer will then go ask its DNS server what the numeric IP address is that is associated with that name.
Every computer on the Internet has an IP address associated with it that uniquely identifies it. However, that address may change over time, especially if the computer is
dialing into an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
What are static and dynamic addressing?
Dynamic IP addressing allows the ISP to efficiently utilize their address space. Using dynamic IP addressing, the IP addresses of individual user computers may change over time. If a dynamic address is not in use, it can be automatically reassigned to another computer as needed.
What is NAT?
Using NAT masquerading, one or more devices on a LAN can be made to appear as a single IP address to the outside Internet. This allows for multiple computers in a home network to use a single cable modem or DSL connection without requiring the ISP to provide more than one IP address to the user. Using this method, the ISP-assigned IP address can be either static or dynamic. Most network firewalls support NAT masquerading.
What are TCP and UDP Ports?
In the same way that a telephone number or physical mail box might be associated with more than one person, a computer might have multiple applications (e.g. email, file services, web services) running on the same IP address. Ports allow a computer to differentiate services such as email data from web data. A port is simply a number associated with each application that uniquely identifies that service on that computer. Both TCP and UDP use ports to identify services. Some common port numbers are 80 for web (HTTP), 25 for email (SMTP), and 53 for Domain Name System (DNS).
What is a firewall?
Software firewall - specialized software running on an individual computer, or
Network firewall - a dedicated device designed to protect one or more computers.
Both types of firewall allow the user to define access policies for inbound connections to the computers they are protecting. Many also provide the ability to control what services (ports) the protected computers are able to access on the Internet (outbound access). Most firewalls intended for home use come with pre-configured security policies from which the user chooses, and some allow the user to customize these policies for their specific needs.
More information on firewalls can be found in the Additional resources section of this document.
What does antivirus software do?
New viruses are discovered daily. The effectiveness of antivirus software is dependent on having the latest virus profiles installed on your computer so that it can look for recently discovered viruses. It is important to keep these profiles up to date.
More information about viruses and antivirus software can be found on the CERT Computer Virus Resource page
http://www.cert.org/other_sources/viruses.html Computer security risks to home users
What is at risk?
Confidentiality - information should be available only to those who rightfully have access to it
Integrity -- information should be modified only by those who are authorized to do so
Availability -- information should be accessible to those who need it when they need it
These concepts apply to home Internet users just as much as they would to any corporate or government network. You probably wouldn't let a stranger look through your important documents. In the same way, you may want to keep the tasks you perform on your computer confidential, whether it's tracking your investments or sending email messages to family and friends. Also, you should have some assurance that the information you enter into your computer remains intact and is available when you need it.
Some security risks arise from the possibility of intentional misuse of your computer by intruders via the Internet. Others are risks that you would face even if you weren't connected to the Internet (e.g. hard disk failures, theft, power outages). The bad news is that you probably cannot plan for every possible risk. The good news is that you can take some simple steps to reduce the chance that you'll be affected by the most common threats -- and some of those steps help with both the intentional and accidental risks you're likely to face.
Before we get to what you can do to protect your computer or home network, let's take a closer look at some of these risks.
Intentional misuse of your computer
Trojan horse programs
Back door and remote administration programs
Denial of service
It is important to note that in addition to being the target of a DoS attack, it is possible for your computer to be used as a participant in a denial-of-service attack on another system.
Being an intermediary for another attack
Unprotected Windows shares
Another threat includes malicious and destructive code, such as viruses or worms, which leverage unprotected Windows networking shares to propagate. One such example is the 911 worm described in http://www.cert.org/incident_notes/IN-2000-03.html
There is great potential for the emergence of other intruder tools that leverage unprotected Windows networking shares on a widespread basis.
For complete article please visit: http://ramis.aspfreeserver.com/Home_Network_Security.asp
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