How Cyber Assaults Can Happen at Work Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

dangers of cell phone and wireless devices connecting to company email and Wi-Fi. The apparent threat is through network assault, which can take various forms: malware, worms, viruses, hijackings, etc. These assaults are successful when proper precautions by users of company Wi-Fi are not adhered to. Consequences of a lack of precaution can be system-wide crashes to days and perhaps weeks of monetary value lost. Safeguarding companies can be as simple as educating employees to as complicated as hiring third parties to examine its networks, codes and programs for vulnerabilities. The best option for companies looking to protect themselves from user error is to provide training on email access servers and Wi-Fi devices, educating employees about possible threats, and initiating a team to secure network borders and passcodes.

An Analysis of the Dangers of Wireless Devices Connecting to Company Networks

The dangers of cell phone and wireless devices connecting to company email and Wi-Fi are located in the susceptibility of network assault, which can come from both internal and external assailants. This paper will discuss this susceptibility in its various forms; show why it presents a situation needing attention, what the research tells about it, and what recommendations can be followed to improve it.

Companies in the 21st century are more dependent on Internet connectivity than ever before. Trillions of dollars exchange hands via the cyber world, and in many ways it is truly the new frontier. Like the old frontier of the "wild west" there are dangers: various battles and skirmishes take place in this gray zone where security is ever-racing to resist the next attack. These attacks are made by thieves, profiteers and cyber assailants known as hackers. They use code to reprogram wi-fi devices, computers, and cell phones; they can steal passwords, empty bank accounts, upload viruses that lure victims into confidence schemes; they can erase data, steal data, redirect links to websites to boost traffic to these sites; they can gain access to private information not meant to be shared; they can crash an entire network. Businesses need "walls" and safeguards to protect themselves against such attacks. Any holes in their defenses can lead to penetration. The danger of cell phone/wireless devices connecting to a company's email and Wi-Fi opens up the possibility for a hole in the defense.

As reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2012, most cell phone users "do not have passwords enable," allowing them to be susceptible to the spread of malicious software by network assailants (Cooney, 2012). If these cell phones are synced with other devices through company wi-fi, or are using company email, at the time of the attack, the assault can affect all network users or synced devices. The GAO stresses the importance of using encryption on all devices.

A recent example of the way that Wi-Fi systems are being hacked has been seen in various countries across the globe. Wi-fi users do not change the generic "admin" username and "password" password on their Wi-Fi device. When these users access a website that is maliciously coded to scan intercept Wi-Fi networks guarded by these generic usernames and passwords, company routers can be hijacked. Even devices that are incapable of downloading viruses, such as iPads and Chromebooks can be affected by Wi-Fi hijacking because it is the network device that is affected, not the personal computer or handheld device. This is an example of an external way "that attackers could secretly exploit a public Wi-Fi network to send their own data" to devices (Gonsalves, 2013).

Open access to company email and Wi-Fi also runs the risk of the spread of malware. The way malware works is that it acts as a set of instructions for your computer to follow as opposed to the ordinary instructions designed to make it work properly. That can happen when a computer user accesses an infected website, which allows the malware operator "to detect vulnerabilities in the user's applications and force the download of a multitude of malware binaries" (Provos, 2007). Once this action is performed, the attacker has access to the computer, which allows him to import information from the computer, or install malware that he can control remotely -- which is what a botnet is designed to do. Web-based malware are injected onto popular website via "web server security, user contributed content, advertising and third-party widgets" (Provos, 2007).

Protection against possible intruders then depends upon patching the holes in programs where vulnerabilities might otherwise open the door to malware intrusions. The average lifetime of an 0-day tends to be just shy of a year, which means that attackers have roughly 11 months to figure out a way to take advantage of a weakness in a program before that weakness is overhauled by the program's administrators themselves.

The way malware operates, once it has managed to infiltrate a system, is through a kind of "stand-off" tactic that keeps the computer's systems from recognizing the intruder. Malware acts as a typical component of the computer's programs and takes upon itself the "ability to launch [itself] via a number of anonymous methods such as an insecure, open public wireless access point" (Vacca, 2009, p. 294). This can be especially dangerous for companies which allow cell phones and other devices to access its Wi-Fi. When malware has reached the target area, it may be controlled through the Internet Relay Chat (IRC), which allows the attack and the attack to remain hidden. This technique also allows the malware operator to formulate a large-scale attack -- which is what happened in 2007 when the Storm Worm infection attacked upwards of 10 million systems. For a company, such an attack can translate to days' and possibly weeks' worth of monetary value.

Malware has become so complex in recent years (note the skyrocketing number of incidents in the statistics published by AV) that companies are resorting to malware to direct business in their direction -- which is essentially what the redirect virus has done for Bing. The redirect virus is a form of malware that has seen a significant upsurge in recent times, and as the name implies it forces a user's search engine to a website the user did not look for through the search engine. The purpose is to drive traffic to a particular site, and the gain is ultimately monetary. But to detail all the many different types of malware would itself require a separate paper. Instead, let us now look at ways companies and users can protect themselves against the rise of malware that is being seen across the globe.


A firewall serves as a blockade to network transmissions and is controlled via a code that is supplied it by the computer's user (for example, it can be turned on or off according to the user's desire). Different types of firewalls allow for different types of protection. There is the packet filter, which examines every piece of information (packet) that passes through the network, acting as guard or kind of security check at the door of the computer. The user sets the specifics -- and anything it is not supposed to let is rejected. However, this type of filter (effective as it may be) is not easy to set up. And many company employees fail to consider it as a safeguard when access a company's Wi-Fi system.

The application gateway sets itself up against certain applications, but one of the problems that it faces is an inability to allow the user's computer to function quickly as well as efficiently. Therefore, even if employees are aware of firewall usage, they may turn it off so as to make their web browsing faster. Nonetheless, for companies looking to safeguard their networks, firewalls are a logical place to start.

Data Loss Prevention Software

DLPs allow computer systems to observe any data that is in use at a particular time, whether active or not. Symantec and the Ponemon Institute have developed a way for companies to assess their levels of vulnerability through the Data Breach Risk Calculator, to which the businesses can apply for an assessment of how badly a hypothetical data breach could hurt. DLPs offer protection against malware by way of constant monitoring of information in and out of the system.

Anti-Virus Software

According to Cooke (2008), "Antivirus software is one of the most widely used tools for detecting and stopping malicious and unwanted files" from harming one's computer. The only problem with anti-virus software is that it is in constant need of upgrade, for as the statistics show, millions of unique malware samples are being found every year. Therefore, any outdated anti-virus agency is going to find itself an insufficient protector against malware attacks.

Moreover the complexity of many anti-virus programs allows malware agents to take advantage of their vulnerabilities. New developments in anti-virus programming are pushing toward "in-cloud network service [which] enables identification of malicious and unwanted software by multiple, heterogeneous detection engines in parallel -- a technique termed 'N-version protection'" (Cooke,…

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