Cyber space - Can it be 100% secured?

Many of years, humans have admired cyber space as a magical world & talked about its contribution to world from past Vs what we are today. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the world still keep on getting amused about its power and potential by further innovation. We started building intelligent chips which can be embedded into “Car” system to navigate around the world OR transport system which helps in monitoring the location of trains OR wireless devices which keeps on sending data to earth from space etc. All of these which are more commonly used as term “Internet of thing” works well in convergence of Cyber world or Internet. However, while we were growing towards next generation using cyber space, there was a small community started incubating which sensed the negative advantage of cyber space which can be taken for their own profit. This profit can be in form of money, defamation of competitors, revealing secrets etc. this community were commonly known as “Hackers”. These hackers are constantly challenging & questioning the security of Cyber Space.
 
While we can still debate if the hackers could be good or bad but the primary objective of hackers would always be finding vulnerabilities into the code of application and exploiting them. There could be various forms of exploitation. Viruses, Malwares, Botnets, spywares are few of the forms with the help of which a vulnerability can be exploited to get financial gain. In the early age of cyber space, finding a vulnerability and exploiting it was just a fun however, as cyber space grown and humans and technology started becoming inseparable, the birth of good or bad hackers evolved. The evolution even got accelerated when these “Hackers” were used as a “Cyber Weapon” by big brands against their competitors. Now there is a “Black Market” where the information can be sold & the highest price would be paid for vulnerability which can cause “Zero Day” attack.
 
Thus, the need of Cyber Security came in which could help in preventing the execution of “zero day” attack.
 
If you ask me if one can give 100% security to once Infrastructure, the quick answer would always be “No”. As per Symantec’s “Internet Security Threat Report” published in April 2016, there were 430 million new unique pieces of malware were discovered in 2015 only. There were “54” number of Zero Day vulnerabilities discovered in 2015 alone. Cyber criminals are using encryption as a weapon to hold companies’ and individuals’ critical data hostage using Ransomware. Cyber criminals have not limit themselves against big brands and various governments but they had gone a step further and started intruding human privacy by attacking over 2 billion smart phone users. So, the question is, while the cyber-attacks are growing day by day even in existence of cyber Security, what should be the solution to keep the attacks to minimal?
 
The solution resides in the “Approach” the security solution is been implemented for the data we want to secure. E.g.:
  • Use a strong Perimeter level devices that only permits known traffic, and review access logs regularly to detect potentially suspicious activity
  • Employ multi-layer protection, so if one layer is compromised, there are other layers to protect different areas of system
  • Control access on a least-privilege basis
  • Deploy network intrusion prevention and detection and monitor email services running on the server
  • Keep systems up to date with patches and updates
  • Use integrated security software, including anti-malware technology
  • Apply good policies and train staff well
Discussing of cyber space without cloud services is very unlikely. Of late, we had seen various number of clients putting their Infrastructure on “Cloud” considering that to be cheaper and having less headache to their IT however, that makes the data more insecure as Client has No visibility of the kind of security been placed to segregate the data of one client to other over cloud. The most common risk of availing Cloud services are “Unauthorised access”, “Hijacking of Accounts” & “Malicious insiders”. Thus, below are few of the steps which should be taken while availing cloud services:
  • Safeguard all credentials used to access the cloud-based administration functions and ensure access is controlled on a need-to-know basis
  • Ensure that you understand the settings of your cloud resources and configure them accordingly
  • Enable event logging to keep track of who is accessing data in the cloud
  • Read the cloud providers’ service-level agreements to learn how data in the cloud is secured
  • Include cloud IP addresses in vulnerability management processes and perform audits on any services that are provided through the cloud
Apart from the points mentioned above, there is another way to save guard cyber space from getting attacked from hackers. I may sound very optimistic here however, giant companies are following it today. That is- motivating hackers to work for you to find vulnerability into your applications and in turn offering them some bounties. This practice is working well now.
 
Overall, we need to safeguard the “Internet of thing” available over cyberspace. Since these are made up of some form code & codes are tend to have some form of vulnerabilities, perpetrators would keep on finding that vulnerability and would keep on selling them to black market. It doesn’t matter how many people hate them for doing it thinking that they are evil, they would continue to do it. Thus, it’s imperative for us to be on top of perpetrators, read their minds, be alert, follow best possible security guidelines & implement best possible security solution. I am sure that this would help in making the cyber space more secure, bring more confidence & trust in users using it which in turn will make Cyber space a better world.
 
Authored by Shukrant Nagdeote
TCS Enterprise Security and Risk Management
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