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Duane-Rough Draft Unit 4

Page history last edited by duane 12 years, 6 months ago





Ehle- Feedback to duane Unit 4  


Duane Davis


     The internet was the single most prolific creation of the twentieth century; it has made all everything from studying for a test to locating ex-girlfriends easier and more convenient. Today the internet is our main source of information, and some say that soon it will control what information is accessible to the general public. Not only is the internet easily available to everyone, but it is also the most efficient way to get the data that you are looking for. The internet allows us to find information in seconds that would have taken past generations hours or days to research depending on the resources available. When people are curious it takes them thirty seconds to arrive at Google’s home page where they can type in keywords and find any information located online, but what if there is some information that was not meant to be seen by everyone with internet access? The United States infrastructure is practically run by the internet. Millions of people use the internet every day at work, transferring company information across the web thinking nothing of the potential risk of that information being intercepted by an unwanted third party. That unwanted third party is commonly referred to as a hacker, and these are the people that have been trained to locate and access classified information that was previously thought hidden within the internet.


     The word hacker itself can be traced back to one of the finest institutions for higher learning worldwide known simply as MIT. MIT stands for Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts; which is also the location of the first college course in computer programming and computer science. It is here in 1960 that a group of students began referring to themselves as hackers due to their ability to make computer programs perform tasks in which they were not originally programmed to do.  An alumni of the institution who was also a member of the class in which the term was coined stated that “The term was developed on the basis of a practical joke because the team member would “hack away” at the keyboard hours at a time (Moore)”. Today advances in technology have given hackers the ability to push their talents to limits that the original group couldn’t fathom decades ago. Subsequently advances in technology have also allowed for more information to be broadcasted online than ever before. During the early nineties it became apparent that there needed to be an increase in internet security in order to deal with the increasing numbers of hackers accessing private information online. 


     According to a journal published in 1998 by Gary Chapman1 , previously director for The 21st Century Project at the University of Texas at Austin,In September of 1997, the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection released a preliminary report calling for a vast increase in funding to protect eight key elements of U.S. infrastructure: electric power distribution, telecommunication, banking and finance, water, transportation, oil and gas storage and transportation, emergency services and government services. The Commission's chairman, retired Air Force General Robert T. Marsh said that “These are the life support systems of the nation…. The Internet provides an access point into all these infrastructures”.  The commission went on to recommend doubling the current federal R&D budget of $250 million to protect these online systems and continue to increase the budget by intervals of $100 million each year until after 1999 when the budget would reach $1 billion per year in 2004. The government recognized that the internet was growing exponentially and as they were beginning to use it to both harbor more classified information and control vital aspects of the countries infrastructure it was a matter of national security to invest in the protection of their information.   

Most of the security programs that were used five to ten years ago were projects that were funded by the American government and were used to conceal the nation’s most classified information from the top hackers of their time. Today the programs that were created because of nations 1998 budget increase are extremely out dated, but the government has continued to use the most advanced protection software available to hide our nation’s secrets. As a testament of how secure our governments information is a source from Prokerala News2 found that  During 2009 a total of 6,023 cases of defacement were reported against the United States Government” none of them were successful. With weekly threats to the nations security due to the number of countries and advanced organizations trying to gain access to our classified information government agencies must constantly update the programs protecting the information,  but unfortunately not all secured websites can have the resources that would allow for their information to remain equally protected.


     The internet is not only holding the classified information of the world’s nations, it also contains personal information for “75% of Americans”3  and “28% of the world”4 .  The internet holds information that can allow to someone to take complete control of your finances, credit, and gain access to your means of communication. It has been said that “gaining the necessary information to steal someone’s identity is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, all of the information necessary can be found online, it’s just a matter of finding it (James)”. For instance in order to gain access the internet a computer must give an ISP address. An ISP address consists of four sets of numbers separated by dots (ex. these ten digits are informing the internet of the exact location in which it is being accessed. It also tells the internet whether the ISP address connected to the web is "dynamic" or "static" meaning whether the location changes periodically or is assigned to a permanent location respectively.  By no means am I saying that the ISP addresses alone will allow a hacker to gain access to your personal information, if that was the case we would all be in trouble, but it can be a vital piece of the puzzle. The information the ISP address contains can be combined with information located elsewhere on the internet to open a credit card in your name, or gain access to your personal financial information. 


     If getting the necessary information to steal someone’s identity is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, a social networking website would be an old puzzle found at doctor’s offices that someone left in the box already assembled. There are currently over 500 million active Facebook accounts containing personal information including the individual’s name, age, address, hobbies, what schools they attended, which degrees they earned, and their current employer. Facebook profiles include pictures of the person and their friend’s while giving direct links to all of their friend’s personal information as well. Social networking sites have found a way to conveniently gather all the information necessary for someone to steal your identity and put it in one easy to access location, but most Facebook users are not targeted by hackers. Attacks on ones personal security happen to one person at a time and it really is a numbers game. Out of the 500 million users of Facebook and the 360 million people on the internet, the odds are in your favor that the information hackers come across will not be your own. Thankfully there isn’t one place on the internet that grants direct access to thousands of people’s financial information, at least there isn’t an online source where bills could be paid, deposits can be made, and money can be transferred from one account to another. Or maybe I just haven’t done enough research.


     In October of 1995 Presidential Savings Bank created a ground-breaking way for their customers to handle their finances more conveniently, their creation was the concept of online banking and what they did not know is that they would be asking their customers to broadcast their most valuable information onto a network that would soon be shared by millions of others people. In a recent study 3,988 adults were surveyed by the U.S. Gartner Group and 47 percent of those surveyed admitted that they now bank online5 . When you pay a bill online your financial information leaves your computer and goes through a series of the banks computers until it reaches its final destination, usually the bank headquarters or regional server. So what is protecting your financial information from being intercepted? Most banks currently use one form or another of a program called Secure Sockets Layer. The first SSL was invented in 1993 by a team led by director Simon S. Lam in the Networking Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin 6 . In the words of it’s creators it was fashioned Toward the goal of secure network programming for the masses, we invented secure sockets as a high-level abstraction suitable for securing Internet applications (Lam)”. The most updated version of this program offers enough security that it takes more than your every-day hacker to access your information, but there are some things that can be done to improve the security of your personal information.


     First of all post as little of your personal information as possible on the internet. It is true that once something gets uploaded or submitted online it stays their forever, but luckily for the every day internet user there is an excess of information on the web to dilute your own so paranoia is not necessary. Also the strength of your password plays a large factor in the amount of information someone can access and how quickly they can receive it. Your email address is already placed on hundreds of different locations across the web, even someone as technically impotent as myself can find a professor or classmate’s email address online if faced with dire enough circumstances. If a hacker finds your email address off your Facebook account and your password is 12345 how long do you think it will take them to gain access to your email or bank account? It also helps to have updated anti-virus and firewalls downloaded onto your computer, these programs act as further obstacles to prevent hackers from gaining access to your computer. The means to protect confidential information on the internet has increased due to advancement in technology and resources. Unfortunately the same technology and resources are being used by hackers to gain access to the same information trying to be protected. In the last decade we have become increasingly reliant on the internet, and the battle over precious information will persist online as long as the internet is available. Hopefully this collection of information will inform others about the consequences of transferring personal information online, and will convince you to be more responsible when it comes to your online activity.



Sources (numbers correlate with where information is located) :


1- http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/21cp/isoc.htm


2- http://www.prokerala.com/news/articles/a119553.html


3- http://www.nielsen-online.com/pr/pr_040318.pdf






6- http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/lam/NRL/SSL.html



Comments (2)

ShareRiff said

at 10:05 am on Nov 11, 2010

Looking forward to where you are going to take us...keep going

Ehle so fly said

at 2:36 pm on Nov 11, 2010

good start duane glad your so interested in this topic :)

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