How Real Is Cyber Threat?

Technology is like anything else that can be used for good or for evil purposes.  Many things have dual purposes or even more than just dual purposes, and technology is no exception to this fact.  Perhaps, there is an exception to the rule, but my small brain cannot think up one for the moment.  Anyhow, there are forces in the world that are trying to use technology for evil purposes.  For an example, from nuclear to cyber threats.  Nuclear threat has existed for many decades already, and by now most people know what MAD means.  In this blog post I’m not going to bother with voicing my opinion on nuclear threat.  Instead, I’m going to focus on voicing my opinion on cyber threat.

Lately, we have seen big powers like USA and China accuse each other of cyber warfare.  It’s obvious that it’s hard to know who is doing what in term of hacking one another in the cyberspace.  Nonetheless, I think I know why cyber threat is a growing concern.

On the surface, before we unravel all the layers of onion, we truly cannot see why there are fusses about cyber security.  For some people, they think that cyber threat can be dealt with best cyber security practices and no more than that.  Of course, it’s true that cyber security measures such as installing well known antivirus software and firewall are definitely going to help counter most cyber vulnerabilities.  Nonetheless, there are other cyber vulnerabilities out there that won’t be eliminated by even the most powerful firewall and antivirus programs.  Why?  I think there are some well kept or new cyber vulnerabilities that have not been dealt with, because these cyber vulnerabilities are well kept secrets or too new.  By using these cyber vulnerabilities and better hacking tools, hackers are able to wreck havocs on the cyber networks of the world.

When we peel more layers of the onion off, we can see that cyber security is very important.  How come?  In my opinion, it’s about a digital future where money mainly get create in digital form.  This is the future trend that our present (the world) is heading for.  Of course, if we just rely on cyber networks for communication and not for banking and monetization, then cyber security can only be boiled down to privacy and few other things but not of money matters.  Nonetheless, cyber networks as in the Internet can be used for electronic commerce, banking, and the whole nine yards.  This means cyber security is needing to be taken seriously, otherwise hackers can just waltz in and erase, steal, change, and do whatever else to the digital money that belong to various money matter institutions such as banking, electronic commerce giants, and whatnot.

I can imagine a scenario that a group of powerful hackers that is sponsored by a powerful organization hacks a cyber system of a country to a point that they erase all of the digital money from this country, leaving this country as a bankrupted nation.  Nonetheless, this country can totally create new digital money out of thin air if she wants to, but will this be ethically, legally, and sensibly?  Can such an incident be covered up easily?  After all, we’re living in a globalized world, and transactions are having been done globally all the time; something like this if to rain upon a country will not be easily covered up.

This is why I think cyber security issues are so important nowadays.  Without proper measures to protect cyber networks, the vulnerable Internet can gradually weaken the trust of digital money transactions, leaving countries and everyday people seek out the traditional means of doing transactions.  Perhaps, this is why we’re seeing the prevalence of traditional transactions today.  Cash is one good example of traditional transactions.

When I’m hearing how one country is having difficulty in protecting a state secret from being leaked out through the cyber networks, I think it’s absurd that such a country is connecting her secret networks to the Internet in the first place.  I think each country should keep her state secrets on an Intranet that won’t be connected to the regular Internet.  Furthermore, such a country needs to provide physical protections to her Intranet, because when hacking cannot be done remotely someone ought to waltz into such a network physically so the hacking can be done eventually.  For an example, stealing state secrets with the usage of a thumb drive (USB devices or similar devices).

In summary, I think the fusses about cyber security threat are real.  This is why we are hearing countries complain about being victims to hack attacks and whatnot.  Corporations are also experiencing cyber security issues, because corporate espionage can be done through cyber networks with ease.  Whenever an entity is connecting to the Internet and it doesn’t matter what type of entity that is, cyber security issues become real just like any other important issue that matters.  Of course, if there is a day that we do not rely on the Internet anymore and money transactions do not take place in the Internet, then cyber threat will not be a threat of anything but only a historical fact.

Personal Note:  The advance of encryption is also important, because encryption can be incorporated into various network tools to secure the Internet transactions.  With strong encryption, it’s harder for hackers to decrypt the Internet transactions into plain text, thus preventing important information from being leaked.

How To Protect Windows 8.1 From Viruses And Malware For Free Or On The Cheap!

Windows 8.1 just came out to update Windows 8.  Usually, a slight change in the iteration version such as Windows 8.1, hence it’s still a Windows 8 iteration, means there will be little improvement and change to the overall of the iteration.  Nonetheless, Windows 8.1 is not at all like this.  Instead, Windows 8.1 iteration version brings a lot of changes to the Windows 8 iteration.  One example of the major changes to Windows 8 iteration is that 3D printer is now being supported by Windows 8.1.

When early adopters such as I see something new and shiny, we want to be the first people to jump on the bandwagon.  Unfortunately, more than often we think, being the first people on the bandwagon can be rather unfortunate.  In Windows 8.1 case, there are many unfortunate events.  One example would be driver failure.  Nonetheless, with enough heart, an early adopter might eventually feel that it’s totally worth it.

In Windows 8.1 case, driver failure is supposed to be the least concern, but it turns out to be a much bigger concern.  Furthermore, many software that support Windows 8 aren’t so compatible with Windows 8.1, considering 8.1 is a slight change in the iteration versions.  Some of these incompatible software might work just fine with the switching of the compatibility mode.  (Sarcastically, yes it’s still being run on Windows 8!)  I found out that other software basically refuse to be ran on Windows 8.1 altogether even though these are being instructed to be ran in Windows 8 compatibility mode.

With all of that being said, I’m definitely all for being an early adopter, because being an early adopter might push you to tinker with whatever you’re trying to experiment with at the early stage of its lifespan.  By tinkering with things, one might be able to improve one’s whatever skill and knowledge.  Furthermore, being an early adopter means you can be the early warning sign hero in telling the good and the bad about whatever that you’re trying to adopt early.

In Windows 8.1 case, although not a biggie, I’m going to be the early warning sign hero of how to protect Windows 8.1 from viruses and malware for free or on the cheap.  Within the video right after the break, I speak of how to protect Windows 8.1 from viruses and malware for free or on the cheap.  (Not everyone is having a luxury of affording expensive computer security software’s annual subscription, therefore knowing how to protect a computer from computer infections with a shoestring budget is a very cool thing to do.  Saving money is definitely cool!  Saving money but having a computer getting hacked is definitely not cool!  So doing it right is definitely awesome!  Obviously, there won’t be a hacker proof computer security measure or measures.  Nonetheless, without trying to protect your computer from the bad stuffs implying that you’re welcoming your computer to be hacked.)  Enjoy the video right after the break, and hopefully you don’t snore before the video ends.

(The audio of the video is now synching correctly!  Please enjoy the video!)

Securely Delete Files On Windows 7 With Eraser

English: A candidate icon for Portal:Computer ...

English: A candidate icon for Portal:Computer security (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do we delete files on Windows 7 securely?  Unlike Mac which comes with a utility by default for deleting data securely, Windows users have to seek out and install a third party software which will allow them to delete data securely on Windows 7.  Nonetheless, download a wrong third party software for this very purpose might do more harm than good.  What if you have downloaded a malware?  This is why I usually cringe whenever I have to download a third party software  for whatever purpose.

Anyhow, I had found a third party software known as Eraser which allows me to delete files securely on Windows 7.  At first, I didn’t trust Eraser, but I looked around the web and only read good things to be said about this particular software.  Furthermore, I scanned Eraser with Norton and ClamWin antivirus software and found that Eraser to be free from virus and malware.  If Norton and ClamWin were effective at scanning for viruses and malware in this particular case, Eraser is not a virus or a malware.  I trusted the antivirus software scan results and so I installed Eraser and used it.

I found that Eraser is very simple to use and fast.  Perhaps, my desktop is somewhat beefy (powerful), therefore Eraser is able to utilize the horsepower of the desktop to securely delete files in a very fast manner. I had tried to delete a 300 MB file and Eraser zipped through the process with ease.  I forgot how long it took, but it was fast.

Since Eraser is quite powerful and useful in allowing regular computer users to securely delete files with ease, I went ahead and created a video which briefly demonstrated its ease of use.  Just a head up though, I actually somewhat talked lengthily about why do we need to delete files in a secure manner.  I hope such a talk won’t bored you too much.

Lastly, I do not condone you to use Eraser as a tool to cover up illegal activities, OK?  I recommend Eraser since it’s useful for regular computer users to remove sensitive data on their own computers, and in doing this they can protect themselves from leaking their personal sensitive information such as social security number from whoever that wants to forensically uncover these sort of data for nefarious purposes.  Anyhow, please enjoy the video right after the break.

What If Futuristic Scenario: Intelligent Malicious Program Reprograms Itself To Evade Counter-attacks

How a botnet works: 1. A botnet operator sends...

How a botnet works: 1. A botnet operator sends out viruses or worms, infecting ordinary users' computers, whose payload is a malicious application — the bot. 2. The bot on the infected PC logs into a particular command and control (C&C) server (often an IRC server, but, in some cases a web server). 3. A spammer purchases access to the botnet from the operator. 4. The spammer sends instructions via the IRC server to the infected PCs, causing them to send out spam messages to mail servers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was in a community college basic computer course (forgot which one it was), a professor professed that there would be no way for the good guys to counter-attack the bad guys in regarding to hacking.  As I read this cool article here in regarding to how researchers had successfully poisoned a botnet, Down the Sinkhole: Inside the Kelihos.B takedown, I guess the professor was a little off.  It seemed that if the good guys knew how the bad guys distributed their attack schemes, at least in the article I mentioned the good guys could manipulate the tools that the hackers used to their advantages such as to poison a botnet, consequently rendering the bad guys’ tools somewhat inefficient or just not worth the time.  Anyhow, as I was halfway through reading the article I mentioned, an unreal question formed within my mind.

The question was, what if one day artificial intelligence will be so capable as in it might be capable of reprogramming itself so it would not be susceptible to most sophisticated counterattacks?  So, how is this question might fit into the topic of hacking?  Well, imagine the hackers would create an intelligent botnet which in itself is fully automated and required zero attention, intervention, from the botnet creators.  This botnet (or virus or worm or whatever the next term might describe it) will be able to figure out that it needs to evolve when it senses it has been invaded, and so it will use it artificial intelligence to reprogram itself and become something else but keep its main objectives intact, consequently nullifying the good guys’ counterattack strategies.

Perhaps, as the bad guys try building their own artificial intelligence malicious programs, should the good guys also try to build their own artificial intelligence defensive programs?  We might see bad versus good battling out in the digital space as normal humans will be unaware of such things in their everyday digital life.  It does feel as if this is Ghost in the Shell sort of thing, right?