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Chapter 1 Introduction to Security

Scenario 1: A post on threatpost.com, Threatpost, the Kaspersky Lab Security News Service, dated August 5th, 2013 with the title “BREACH Compression Attack Steals HTTPS Secrets in Under 30 Seconds” by Michael Mimoso, states1:

“A serious attack against ciphertext secrets, buried inside HTTPS responses, has prompted an advisory from Homeland Security.

The BREACH attack is an offshoot of CRIME, which was thought dead and buried after it was disclosed in September. Released at last week's Black Hat USA 2013, BREACH enables an attacker to read encrypted messages over the Web by injecting plaintext into an HTTPS request, and measuring compression changes.

Researchers Angelo Prado, Neal Harris, and Yoel Gluck demonstrated the attack against Outlook Web Access (OWA) at Black Hat. Once the Web application was opened and the Breach attack was launched, within 30 seconds, the attackers had extracted the secret.”

Scenario 2: A post on threatpost.com, Threatpost, the Kaspersky Lab Security News Service, dated December 30th, 2013 with the title: “Most Surprising NSA Capability: Defeating the Collective Security Prowess of the Silicon Valley” by Dennis Fisher, states as follows2:

“Some of the earliest leaks to emerge from the Edward Snowden cache described a program called PRISM that granted the NSA “direct access” to networks run by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and many other companies. That direct access was quickly interpreted to mean that those companies were giving the agency data links to their servers through which the NSA could collect traffic information on targets. The affected companies quickly denied this; only later was it revealed that “direct access” came in the form of tapping undersea cables that carry unencrypted traffic between data centers around the world. The revelation triggered an immediate response from Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, who said that they would be encrypting that traffic in the near future. In addition, some Google engineers had some choice words for the NSA's in-house hackers. In the words of Google's Mike Hearn, “The traffic shown in the slides below is now all encrypted and the work the NSA/GCHQ staff did on understanding it is ruined.”

What is Security?

The events above are a few of the security breaches that were reported during 2013. There are many security breaches reported every year from different quarters of the world. Some of these may be accidental and some intentional. Some may not be with the intention of making money, while others are done purely with the intention of making money.

Some events may be done for one-upmanship or merely for the thrill of breaking the system. With more computers and people interconnected and in turn, connected by the internet, the role of computer security in general and information security in particular, with special emphasis on cybersecurity, is gaining momentum. With technological advances and the spread of technological know-how, information security is certainly a humongous task for everyone! That is, all computer users including the non-technical ones.

Our intention here is not to define the term “security,” but to explore the term so that it becomes crystal clear to the readers as to what it really means. A basic animal instinct is to ensure one's own “safety.” Every animal, including a human, will fight for its safety. Everyone wants to be safe and preserve whatever they have with them whether that be assets, money, or otherwise. The security of the individual, company, assets, or security of their information and many more similar things are expected and seem to be quite in sync with nature's laws. Security, in simple terms,

is protecting what you or others have. This same idea applies to entities like government departments, agencies, companies, institutes, and so on, irrespective of their size or function.

The security of not only physical assets, but of non-physical assets as well are important and necessary. Some of these non-physical assets include confidential information and data; intellectual property; research data with the potential of high value realization and high investment; and the security of your customers or end users when at your facility or while using your systems. The security of the installations with high defense or strategic value, like nuclear installations, nuclear sources, chemical and biological laboratories, and areas with high-level political and administrative dignitaries, are of significance. Most terrorist threats are guided (or misguided) by so-called ideals or ulterior motives, making the security more important. Security is even more important with the recent rise in

widespread use of technology such as mobile phones, the internet, tablets, and other mobile devices. Disgruntled or unhappy employees are also achieving significance by leaking information that is of strategic importance, either for exacting vengeance or for profit.

 
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