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Why is Network Security Important?

Computer networks have grown in both size and importance in a very short time. If the security of the network is compromised, there could be serious consequences, such as loss of privacy, theft of information, and even legal liability. To make the situation even more challenging, the types of potential threats to network security are always evolving.

White hat-An individual who looks for vulnerabilities in systems or networks and then reports these vulnerabilities to the owners of the system so that they can be fixed. They are ethically opposed to the abuse of computer systems. A white hat generally focuses on securing IT systems, whereas a black hat (the opposite) would like to break into them. Hacker-A general term that has historically been used to describe a computer programming expert. More recently, this term is often used in a negative way to describe an individual that attempts to gain unauthorized access to network resources with malicious intent. Black hat-Another term for individuals who use their knowledge of computer systems to break into systems or networks that they are not authorized to use, usually for personal or financial gain. A cracker is an example of a black hat. Cracker-A more accurate term to describe someone who tries to gain unauthorized access to network resources with malicious intent. Phreaker-An individual who manipulates the phone network to cause it to perform a function that is not allowed. A common goal of phreaking is breaking into the phone network, usually through a payphone, to make free long distance calls. Spammer-An individual who sends large quantities of unsolicited e-mail messages. Spammers often use viruses to take control of home computers and use them to send out their bulk messages. Phisher-Uses e-mail or other means to trick others into providing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or passwords. A phisher masquerades as a trusted party that would have a legitimate need for the sensitive information.

Think Like a Attacker
The attacker's goal is to compromise a network target or an application running within a network. Many attackers use this seven-step process to gain information and state an attack.

Step 1. Perform footprint analysis (reconnaissance). A company webpage can lead to information, such as the IP addresses of servers. From there, an attacker can build a picture of the security profile or "footprint" of the company.

Step 2. Enumerate information. An attacker can expand on the footprint by monitoring network traffic with a packet sniffer such as Wireshark, finding information such as version numbers of FTP servers and mail servers. A cross-reference with vulnerability databases exposes the applications of the company to potential exploits.

Step 3. Manipulate users to gain access. Sometimes employees choose passwords that are easily crackable. In other instances, employees can be duped by talented attackers into giving up sensitive access-related information.

Step 4. Escalate privileges. After attackers gain basic access, they use their skills to increase their network privileges.

Step 5. Gather additional passwords and secrets. With improved access privileges, attackers use their talents to gain access to well-guarded, sensitive information.

Step 6. Install backdoors. Backdoors provide the attacker with a way to enter the system without being detected. The most common backdoor is an open listening TCP or UDP port. User diagram protocol –connectionless transport layer protocol in the TCP/IP protocol stack.

Step 7. Leverage the compromised system. After a system is compromised, an attacker uses it to stage attacks on other hosts in the network.

Types of Computer Crime
As security measures have improved over the years, some of the most common types of attacks have diminished in frequency, while new ones have emerged. Conceiving of network security solutions begins with an...
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