The world of the Internet is truly an amazing and wonderful place where any information on any topic is available, right at your fingertips, with the mere click of a button. The Internet is very much like a huge city where high rises filled with honest people and slums filled with the lower classes coexist side by side; where there are both good people as well as the bad and dishonest criminals living in one place. Criminals in the real world may be relatively easier to find than those in the cyber world who are virtually impossible to find. This may be due to the practical difficulties in finding the criminals and tracking them down through virtual space and taking action on them. The battle between Internet thieves and Internet administrators has been actually going on for many years; the Internet, in fact, has been in existence from the 1940's.
It was originally known as 'Darpanet' and was a defense device to aid the Government in the eventuality of a nuclear war. The defense personnel used this Darpanet to communicate messages between the various Government networks. The later form of this type of communication came to be known as the 'net' or the 'Internet.' Now there are more than 30 million users from all over the world, and there are more than 40 million sites on the Internet. From its humble beginning when the connection was given to universities in America, to the present day when connections are given to small businesses, to Internet Service Providers, and to individual users, the Internet has indeed come a long way. The Internet can now be accessed by any number of users, both private and public, and the service is offered by a large number of Internet providers.
Now that access to the Internet is not difficult, and the number of users is vast, and the amount of information being generated is enormous, there is a natural tendency for dishonest users to turn to crime. Experts are of the opinion that this may be to a large extent due to the design structure of the Internet. Each computer is as powerful as the next one and there is no central hub to control information and this has granted unlimited power to the totally undeserving. There are, thus, no rules on regulation, and break-ins have become more and more frequent and easy. The users have all the power to control or regulate discipline and this is why the Government finds itself incapable of passing any sort of control measures on the use of the Internet. The end result of this is that security is lapsed and Internet users find themselves exposed to 'hackers' or thieves.
Hacking is generally done on computers of the Universities. This tendency is to avoid getting caught using Government computers as the fine, if caught, would be rather heavy. However, inexperienced users may innocently cause a break in and cause a lot of problems. Strict security measures need to be adopted to secure Internet safety. Though these measures are taken almost everyday- once a security method is conceived, another breach happens, and the process continues. The point is that virtually every day sees a new sort of break in or security breach and this has to be remembered by the providers of Internet security. (Internet Battle)
An example of an actual hack attack would explain the need for Internet security measures and how this issue was dealt with when it happened on a huge scale on the largest independent web site, Yahoo in February 2000. More than a million people use Yahoo regularly to access services such as e-mails and search engines. Patrick Taylor, the head of the security system, was flabbergasted at the intensity of the attack. It started to spread to Amazon.com and buyer.com both of who rely on the Internet to conduct their businesses. Soon, news sites like CNN and ZDnet were hit and traffic to these sites came to a literal standstill. The FBI was contacted and a serious investigation was launched. Though the motive behind the attack was impossible to decipher, the result was that of disruption of normal commercial activities that were being conducted on the Internet by private users. The method of the attack was found to be that of using one computer to tap into and secretly install damaging software onto hundreds of other computers.
The destructive software would then bombard the other computers with a whole lot of unnecessary information and details that would finally corrupt the other computer and make it go into an overload mode whereby the system would have to inevitably shut down. The Internet would then be useless to its various users. The investigation into who committed this crime was undertaken and this was where the difficulty lay. The criminal could have operated from any corner of the world in this system with no borders or watchmen at the gate to keep intruders away. The system had been upgraded to the latest security measures but to no avail. The general consensus was that a whole lot of new knowledge systems and resources were needed to even understand the depths of the crime.
The enormous number of users of the Internet on an everyday basis made it even more difficult as this tended to produce more and more criminals who would find their source of excitement in committing crimes of this nature. As the investigation revealed, software to commit Internet crimes was easily downloadable on the Internet in some sort of a package that would just have to be turned on to start to create its damage after installation. There had been a filter installed on the computer to prevent such an attack but it proved to be less than useful as any minor mutation or changes would have rendered it completely inadequate for the purpose for which it was intended. With this came the knowledge that any computer that allowed web surfing, whether it was used at home or at the office was prone to such an attack, at any time, especially if the connection involved high speed.
The hacker could definitely access any machine that was connected to the Internet and start his mischief. He could actually type in any address at random, try to gain access to the person's machine, and if he succeeded, could leave potentially disastrous software on the machine that would be set, like a time bomb, to a certain time, after which it would begin its attack. At this point of time, any evidence that would point at him would have long since disappeared and he would have the last laugh. It was thus proven that any machine could most unwittingly get involved in a hack attack and the preventive measures for such massive attacks in the future would have to be further researched before a satisfactory method could be discovered. The conclusion drawn was that, in order to find and assess Internet security that involved hackers and breakers in, partnerships with the concerned industry would have to be formed whereby each could help the other in case of a breach in security.
The other method was to go back to traditional methods of Internet security measures like integrating themselves into particular chat rooms and investigating the chatters and being on the lookout for anybody who would brag that they had successfully hacked into a particular computer system. However, privacy being a major issue, such methods was best used with a certain amount of discretion and within the existing rules laid down by the legal system, some of them relatively new. The investigators were able to conclude that security measures for the internet needed to be assessed in more detail since this particular episode was the third of its kind, the first one being the Melissa virus, the second one being the Y2K bug, and the third one being the Denial of Service Virus.
A national plan had to be immediately installed by the Federal Government in order to protect information systems that were becoming more prone to such attacks in direct proportion to the increase in the number of users of such technology. The extent of vulnerability of certain businesses was also to be assessed and plans were to be made to suit such users in the best way possible. The public nature of Internet hacking success stories were to be remembered when planning security measures; the very fact that the criminal would be able to enjoy his success in hacking without leaving behind him any evidence that would get him caught needed to be remembered. (Hack Attack)
Whatever be the nature of the breach of Internet security, the fact remains that this is an issue for which no one person can be held responsible. As Internet users are growing, so are the criminals and each person who uses the Internet, be he an IT professional or a PC user, needs to give the matter…