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Security: Internet

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Introduction
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Security in General
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Privacy
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Integrity
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Usability
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Can I Use Cryptographic Software?

Computer Security Primer-The Internet:

Security in General

When we seek to secure a home or business, we think first of the entrances and exits that we normally use. We may put heavy locks in place, and in some neighborhoods, add locked gates outside. If we are very conscious of potential dangers, we also add such measures at the windows. Yet each of these measures leave some method of breakin unguarded. For the doors and gates, it may be that hinge pins can be removed, making the locks of no use. A locked window may be broken. In some cases, the walls themselves are not the solid barrier they seem.

In every form of security, one must analyze the risks, and attempt to compensate for those risks. It is always a balancing act, and understanding what the risks are allows us to make good judgements about the precautions we take. Computer security is no different.

In computer security, we have three basic things to consider:

  1. Maintaining the privacy of the information in our data.
  2. Maintaining the integrity of the data we store on our computer.
  3. Maintaining the needed usability of the system and data.
These three apply, whether we have an account on some other computer, and use a public access terminal to get there, or if we have our own computer which may or may not at any given time be connected to other computers, such as via the Internet; or even if our setup is somewhere in between. There are differences, of course but these three considerations are the same.

The three are often quite interrelated, and often the safeguards for one help the others. If, for example, we prevent others from accessing our data, we help both integrity and privacy. If the computer we use is maintained to remain useful, we also help insure integrity, and part of keeping it useful is preventing others from the access which would allow them to destroy its usefulness, for example with a virus.


This story Copyright © Bruce Gingery. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998 Dr. Raj Mehta. All rights reserved.