As a security professional, I talk to a lot of people about common security attacks and countermeasures. I’m not always certain the people I’m talking to know what these things mean. I am almost certain they aren’t willing to ask.
I know it’s more complicated than it was when I took my Security+ exam a decade ago. The stakes are much higher now. The attacks I had to identify caused inconvenience, but someone conducting a successful smurf attack on your printer won’t get you in the headlines. Today’s attacks will.
When it comes to the dangers of public wifi, many people tend to take one of two extreme approaches. Some don’t give it a thought at all. Some refuse to use it at all. Neither approach is completely practical. So what are the dangers of public wifi, and how can you avoid them?
Here are the dangers and the precautions to take against them.
On Monday, March 13 at approximately 10:30 AM CST, I will be appearing on KFUO Radio’s Faith and Family program to discuss home computer security with host Andy Bates. One of the questions he’s planning to ask: “What can I do to improve the security of my digital information?”
This, fortunately, may be the easiest question to answer and the easiest step to implement.
“Does HTTPS matter?” a friend of a friend asked. “I heard it does. Is that still true?” Yes, yes, and yes. Here’s why.
HTTP connections are unencrypted. HTTPS connections are encrypted. You can tell when you’re using HTTPS because the URLs start with https:// instead of http://, and your location bar will have a lock in it. Encryption is good.
A dictionary attack is a common way to steal a password. Here’s how a dictionary attack works, in layperson’s terms. More importantly, here’s how to beat the attack.
A dictionary attack is a much more efficient alternative to brute force hacking, but it requires a local copy of the user database to work. That usually means stealing the database first, if a bad guy is doing it. But nothing stops a company from doing a dictionary attack on its own user accounts to make sure people aren’t using insecure passwords. It’s unusual, but not unheard of.
It seems like about once a month an aspiring coworker asks me how to get enough CISSP work experience. I think this shows a misunderstanding of the requirement, so I’m going to try to clear it up.
You don’t have to get your five years of work experience in one big lump. And that’s a good thing, because that would be hard to do. Sometimes you can get a security job without a cert and work your way toward it, but a lot of employers want you to come in with the certification already.
But that’s OK. As long as you’re doing something more than selling computers at retail, odds are you have some security experience that can count toward the requirement.
If you regularly visit forums online, particularly forums powered by the forum software Vbulletin, you ought to change your forum passwords right now. The longer and more random you make them, the better.
I could pick nits at a few of his details, but that’s annoying and counterproductive. His overall advice is very good–manage your passwords, set them to something random, keep in mind that some sites just won’t allow for a very strong password so do the best you can, and protect your main e-mail password and your password management system password with all the diligence you can muster.
Last week, Symantec discovered a worm that infects routers and takes measures to make them more secure. For lack of anything else to call it, Symantec is calling it malware, and most of the security echo chamber is probably howling over this, but I think I understand why it was created.