SSL

Cybersecurity – A Tense Topic of Debate and Dispute

October 23, 2014 | By Editor 

Summary

Consider the following :

  • What if there are inappropriate photos of celebrities plastered all over the Web?
  • What if photos are deleted from Snapchat account? and
  • What if an entire music album mysteriously appears on your iTunes?

These are not just speculations but real incidents that have put personal privacy at stake and has begged the question whether personal privacy does exist.

The sad news is for Internet users, privacy is not really a pressing issue as long as the use or storage of their information is beneficial to them. Their only protest when apps, iTunes, or social networking sites fail to protect their information.

Cyber Security

Cybersecurity and Apps

Snapchat

Most users are willing participants and not unwilling victims. They give away their information with full knowledge even at the slightest inducement.

The idea behind the popular photo-sharing application Snapchat is that when a user sends a photo, that photo will cease to exist after being viewed by the receiver. Than in reality, the premise seems more secure.

Applications like SnapKeep and SnapHack secretly capture photos without notifying the sender.

Given Snapchat’s popularity and the size of its fanbase, it is not a surprise that several app-makers have come up to provide additional services to Snapchatters.

It is common for apps to have most of your information with your consent.

Whenever you download an app to your smartphone or tablet and accept its terms and conditions, you actually give the firm the right to use  any information submitted via the app.

And it is also not uncommon for apps to legally mine user information. People only care whether or not the downloaded app does its job and nothing else matters. But in the background, all the information is sent to their servers. By accepting the terms and conditions, you probably allowed the app to take your data.

iTunes and U2

Recently, popular Irish rock band U2 stirred a controversy when it uploaded its new album “Songs of Innocence” on all Apple’s iTunes without users’ explicit consent. The controversial new album prompted the band to apologize last week.

Security experts opined that the uploading of the album without users consent was not a security breach but a rather conscious decision by Apple to promote the newest album of U2.

Apple can load anything on a user’s iPhone. But if hackers infiltrate Apple’s servers, they too can load anything on a user’s iPhone.

So, basically, if you have completed trust in Apple’s security, you should not worry. If it is the other way, then you should worry.

The recent leak of private photos of celebrities, such as Kelly Brook, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Cara Delevingne, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian was a security vulnerability.

Whenever you create an online account, you provide the Web service with a unique identifier (username) and an authentication secret (password). The former is who you claim to be and the latter is a way for Web services to authenticate you are who you claim to be.

In case you provide the Web service with a incorrect password, it allows you a certain number of attempts before determining you are not the actual account holder.

Since most security questions deal with personal history, it would be easy for hackers to guess answers to some security questions (e.g., mother’s name, DOB).

What Can Users Do?

According to a security expert, using a two-fold password system would be ideal to protect an online account. While the first step requires a user to enter a password, the second step would randomly generate a code that is sent to the user’s smartphone. This way, the hacker will have to have both the right password and user’s mobile.

Using a password manager that generates complex, random and unique passwords for each Web account. Users would only have to remember one strong password for the main account.

Conclusion

  • Security and privacy concerns are fast becoming matters of personal security, as privacy breaches have the potential to lead to online crimes such as stalking and identify thefts.
  • Web services should encrypt data, secure it against thefts, and constantly monitor websites and block those that pose a security risk. Blocking a site temporarily until the threat is resolved can also be done.
  • On the other hand, users should use strong passwords, avoid public Wi-Fi, and utilize legitimate sites (sites with HTTPS encryption) if they ever want their information to be safe.
  • To be on the safer side, users should look for the closed padlock symbol in the URL and make sure the Web address begins with HTTPS. This indicates that the site uses SSL encryption, a protocol that validates security, between the server and the site.
  • The most important thing is to trust that you are communicating with a legitimate website.

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