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:
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.
- Maintaining the privacy of the information in our data.
- Maintaining the integrity of the data we store on our computer.
- Maintaining the needed usability of the system and data.
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.