Think about what security means to you. It’s not too hard to come up with a few lessons or adages that help us stay safe in our everyday lives. Lock your door when leaving the house, walk in well-lit areas, know your emergency numbers. Security gives us a sense of comfort, knowing that we, our loved ones, and our assets, are safe. The strategies that companies and governments employ in order to maintain their security against physical, real-world threats are well-known and can be easily observed (although just as easily misinterpreted) by anyone. I’m talking guards, cameras, vaults. Big, glaring signs of power that have “Don’t Mess With Me” written all over them. Our hi-tech age, however, is changing things. People are communicating globally, entire libraries are uploaded to the cloud, and information has never been more abundant or easier to obtain. With this come new security risks, more subtle, and yet more devastating as well. I’m talking, as you may have guessed, about hacking.
Hacking portrayed in movies and TV is at the same time exactly the same and completely different from how it is in real life. This is because the term is so broad and generalised that it can encompass a myriad of individuals and professions. Hackers who live in their vans, sustaining themselves on a steady diet of Cheetos and Diet Pepsi which they pay for by selling email accounts they acquired from phishing bots do exist, along with suit-and-tie businessmen who make good money, legal money in fact, from hacking the world’s top companies and selling them the flaws. There also exist those who would release an entire database of user information to the world for no other reason than poops and giggles. A hacker can shut down a power station, or take control of a million PC’s that’ll run DDoS attacks to shut down a bank’s website. Point is, whilst before planning a security breach consisted mostly of “shoot X, blow up Y”, the possibilities of digital crime now are endless.
These new digital dangers are the reason this blog was made. Every week or so, I will make a blog post summarising a concept in security. If a concept is too big for one post (or if I just really like it), then I’ll spread it out into several. I’ll try to keep the topics as varied as possible, from how the CIA plans to open the Boston Bomber’s iPhone to why you should never trust a Nigerian Prince begging for money. However, know that I am explaining these concepts purely with the intention to help protect and inform, not breach or destroy. You are forbidden, dear reader, from going out into the world and hacking into McDonalds’ Corporate office using a Starbucks’ WiFi. Be warned that this is not only unethical but more importantly illegal as all hell. Keep this in mind and remember to always stay on your toes. See you next week.