About Cybersecurity

I believe everything that is created by man can also be destroyed by it. Humans have proved to be the most intelligent species in this world. We have created the technology that appears to be smarter than the human brain but if it overpowers the human intelligence it can be destroyed as well. Internet works in the same manner. It has created dependencies that have led to millions of people relying on this technology in getting every task done no matter how big or small. This technology is being used in the most sensitive departments like the Government and finance departments, banking sectors. As days pass by, more and more things are getting converted into the digital system that reduces the man-force but has increased the threat that can lead to heavy dangers resulting in a cyber-war. The Internet is wireless which connects millions of people together but, it is a huge connection of cables which are buried deep down the Earth’s surface. It is a huge network of networks that have been generated by these huge thick old-fashioned cables which are disguised in some way or the other by being buried under water. If we think of destroying the Internet, the following would be the steps:

If the cables are destroyed, the Internet could be destroyed as well. But the location of these cables are unknown and kept confidential so one can never be sure of the location of these cables which is a major challenge when you think of destroying the Internet.

The Root servers could be destroyed as well. But this involves a lot of thoughtful effort which could take years to do so because it hastens upon tens of IP addresses that need to be destroyed along with these servers and it is impossible to track so many IP addresses and destroy every one of it manually along with the cables.

You could also try and destroy the Datacenters. When the cables are cut the Internet is locked and is broken up into a handful of tiny internet networks that cannot communicate with each other which means no message can be passed around the globe anymore. The Data Centers are places which are loaded with servers that store personal and sensitive data like your day to day emails, photos and other information like the website we browse on our day to day lives etc.

There have been places around the globe that have already practiced an “Internet Kill Switch” like China, Iran, Syria, and North Korea.The internet is not yet truly governed by anyone as such as it does not have any governing body or law. Organizations like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN is an international committee that just has certain rules and protocols which purely pertains to the website’s accessibility rules, web services provided by them, protocol addressing restrictions etc. The Internet is vast and widespread to an extent that a single body or figure of authority cannot govern a huge system like this which covers almost the entire globe. To understand whether the internet can be governed on a global basis or not it is important for us to list down the various aspects and concerns of the internet that would require governance which includes the following:

Network architecture which would include all the possible technical issues that could arise while using the internet and the resolutions to those issues for a better functioning of the network.

Secondly, it would include concerns like the content control aspect of a website where issues like spams and child pornography could be dealt with.

And other factors could be cybercrimes and cyber-attacks that would have the most major concerns like terrorism, hacking and network disruptions. Nevertheless, there are a few International organizations that have been dealing with a few concerns mentioned above however these organizations are not able to match up the speed at which issues keep arising. Hence, it would be better if there were certain NGO’s technical experts and corporations get along and come up with a solution by combining their technical, political and economic aspect to the sensitive issues that could arise like cybercrimes, the humiliation of human rights etc. Hence for a proper governance, it is important to build a multi-stakeholder organization which would possess the expertise that the government and other agencies lack. This would further result in better decision making and effective solutions. The public Wi-Fi that we have been using as the ones in Malls, hotels, shops etc. are not safe even if the Wi-Fi is password protected. Hence, it’s important to understand how data is transmitted between the computer and the internet. For instance, when you send an email or watch a YouTube video, every data you are sending is broken down into smaller chunks of data called packets. These packets contain information like the website requested, username, password etc. These data packets are not encrypted by default hence anybody with the knowledge and the appropriate software can grab this opportunity to hack into your system and have an access to these packets. The hacker can even have an access to the contents of these packets. There are various tools and apps that have been developed for hacking into the systems and having an access to these packets one of them being Wireshark. Most computers, especially if it’s a windows system, the Wi-Fi card only cares about the packets being transferred between the computer and the router. It, fortunately, does not have an access to what other computers are transmitting. But what hackers do is, they can buy another Wi-Fi adapter from TP-link and use that to capture Wi-Fi packets, and thereby listening to what computers are communicating on the network. So, when you insert the Wi-Fi adapter to the USB port of the computer and fire up Wireshark it starts capturing the data and captures everything that happens over the network. It will first show you a bunch of IP addresses and the different strings of protocols. For example, if I want to see browsing on my mobile I just have to filter in, the IP address of this mobile. If I go to a specific website or I ‘ping’ a website on the terminal, Wireshark will be able to capture it. The source IP is the IP address of this device and the destination IPs are the website it is communicating with. Wireshark is a lot more powerful than this, for instance, if you are login into an encrypted website, Wireshark can sniff the username and password by using a simple HTTP post request. Similarly, if you want to find out if someone is using torrent on your network, you set a filter to look for ‘bittorrent’ protocol or if you want to filter on DNS/HTTP/TCP then you can add “dns or http or tcp” in your filter conditions as well. This shows how vulnerable we are when we are on a public network so we won’t know if someone is using Wireshark on our network, and even if you suspect, you can’t stop them from attacking us.

But, there are few precautions we can take:-

  • While browsing the net we should prefer browsing the HTTPS links and not the HTTP links as the HTTP ones are always the unsafe sites that have weak or n encryption methods. Although, having https won’t stop the attack completely as the hacker can still see what website you are visiting but they won’t be able to see what pages of the website you are visiting. For instance, Amazon India now uses https so if we go to Amazon.in and perform any activities there, then the hacker cannot see what activities are being performed by the user which could include your cart details, wish lists, transaction details, etc. as all of that remains encrypted. In fact, if you google anything, the first 80% results are HTTPS websites.
  • Also, it has come to notice that Google admits that they use HTTPS as a ranking factor. However, since more than half of web traffic comes from mobile applications, there is still no way to be sure yet, if the application you are using uses HTTPS or not. For instance, certain applications like WhatsApp which is one of the most widely used messaging application throughout the world make use of end to end encryption, which means all the messages are encrypted. Whereas, google messaging Apps don’t have encryption, so anybody who uses Wireshark can easily break into the system and read the messages.
  • The next best thing you can do is, not allowing any untrustworthy person use your Wi-Fi network and vice versa. We should avoid using public or open Wi-Fi network especially when you are working with confidential data like browsing your bank accounts online or making certain transactions that expect you to provide your account details. But if you want to do that, then make sure you use a VPN. So, say if you want to login to your bank account from some unsecured network, your first have to connect to a VPN and then you open the website, so this way, even if the hacker is tracking your data packets, they will only see your connection to VPN and nothing after that.
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