Elements of Computer Security - Essay Example

These methods include everything from password and surnames to biometric devices. There are also software solutions that are used, including antivirus and anti-mallard software along with firewalls. All of this is to accomplish the desired result of keeping information safe and yet easily accessible for those with proper authorization. These topics and more will be presented in this paper. Once upon a time, computer security simply meant that you had to make sure that you had a pretty good lock on your office door and remembered to use it when you left.

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That was a long time ago though, back when computers were still a novelty and people did not trust using them for things that were important, such as finances, medical records, inventories, shopping habits, and so much more. But as time progressed, and computers became the haven for more and more vital, private, and highly important information, it became necessary to discover better and more secure ways of protecting the computer from unauthorized access. Looking back, it seems that in what was a very short time, computers went from being almost inconsequential, to important enough to demand the best efforts at security that were possible.

But what does computer security encompass? Computer security is protection given to preserve the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of information system resources. The protection encompasses computer hardware, software, and the data stored on the computer (Andrea, 2011). There are at minimum three different controls involved in computer security. Controls are simply countermeasures or safeguards to counteract, minimize, avoid, or simply detect security risks in order to reduce the chances of damage or loss of information stored on computer systems. Sometimes controls simply slow down an attack.

But nonetheless, security controls are for the purpose of protecting electronic data stored on computer systems. As mentioned above, there are three main security controls involved in protecting information stored on a computer. The three are administrative, physical, and algorithmic controls (Andrea, 2011). These controls are used to preserve the elements of integrity, availability, and confidentiality of information systems. These elements are also sometimes referred to as integrity, necessity, and secrecy (Schneider, 2015). Integrity means that the system and information is free from unauthorized manipulation.

Availability, also referred to sometimes as necessity, means that the system works and service is not denied to authorized users. Confidentiality, which is sometimes also referred to as secrecy, means information is not disclosed to unauthorized individuals (Starvation, 2014). That broaches the subject of what security measures and devices have evolved over the years to accomplish these security tasks and how well do they work? All of the following measures, while not being an exhaustive list of steps to take to ensure the security of a computer or network system, fall under the three main intros that we spoke of earlier.

So what are the measures of which we speak? Let us take a look at some of the more popular and effective measures that have been implemented for the protection of electronic data stored on lone computers or on a network, whether it be a Local Area Network (LANA) or a Wide Area Network (WAN). One of the most basic and familiar measures that has been used almost since the dawn of computers, is the surname and password combination. Through the use of this measure, it has been possible to protect vital data from unauthorized users.

This as been an administrative measure that allows users to be assigned access to data they need and kept from accessing information they do not need to access. This measure seems like a dinosaur when it comes to modern security measures and it can indeed be a very cumbersome method for security. After all, one user potentially has to remember larger numbers of different passwords. This in itself makes it a very inconvenient method of security. For this reason, respected security personnel, such as Whitehorse subjectivity coordinator Michael Daniel has called for the death of the password (Perk, 2014).

The only problem with this is that the majority of security issues today are not password related. They have more to do with mallard and technical flaws in web applications. Because of this fact, doing away with passwords will do very little to hinder the growth of security issues today (Perk, 2014). What can help? An algorithmic solution would seem to be much more effective. Putting more effort into programming applications so that they are safer and do not have so many security holes would be a big step towards helping to close many of the security flaws that exist in today’s applications.

Another method of helping to increase security with algorithmic solutions would be to increase the effectiveness of antivirus programs and firewalls. Many of these use special and proprietary algorithms to detect new, as yet unknown, viruses, mallard, and pushing programs. Many people believe that with the complexity of newer antivirus programs, they are all that is needed to protect one’s computer or network. But it is Just as important to make use of an updated firewall program as well. Together, they go a long way towards protecting computers from unwanted intrusion (Smith, 2010).

Another improved approach to security is to make use of newer and modern security devices. There has been an influx of biometric devices in recent years. These devices make use of a physical characteristic to grant access to a user. It can be used in place of a password and has a couple of advantages. For one, it eliminates the need for a user to keep track of a large number of complicated passwords. Instead, something such as their voice, face symmetry, iris scan, or fingerprint can provide access to all necessary data. In these cases it is not necessary to remember any password. A user simply has to be present.

The uninformed believe that biometrics are the end all of security. They see a retina scan on TV and they feel that nothing could be more secure. The fact is that every biometric device that has been introduced has been compromised (Perk, 2014). They still work very well. But Just like antivirus software and firewalls, the devices and the applications that run them have to be updated regularly to stay ahead of criminals and hackers. The problem has been found to be that with the more complexity that a security measure, such as biometric devices may have, the attack reface increases.

This means that more hackers and other criminals spend more effort and time breaking the security, which pretty much nullifies the extra complexity and strength of that security measure (Perk, 2014). Knowing all of this, what can be done to create the most secure environment for information stored on computers and networks today? A major step is to spend time coming up with a strong security policy and then spending the time to educate people and put devices and programs into place that will support that policy (Starvation, 2014).

In creating this policy, it is best to take a multi-faceted approach. Do not rely on Just one or two methods of security. Use as many as is feasible. For instance, installing a quality antivirus program and a strong software and hardware firewall is a great start. Installing all application and operating system updates so as to have the latest security updates is another necessary measure. Also, take the time to educate people and employees about security. Teach them how to avoid falling prey to pushing scams and mallard. Lastly, do not skimp on spending money on security devices or applications.