10 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online

Who knows the Evil that lurks in the hearts of men?
In May 2017, more than 230,000 computers around the world were taken hostage by the WannaCry malware worm. Known as ransomware, the unknown developers surreptitiously gained control of computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, encrypted the users’ data, and demanded a payment of $300 in untraceable bitcoins to unlock the system and access information.
Cyber-attacks occur across borders and range from simple email “phishing” efforts to sophisticated software programs that quickly expand the attacks and hide the identity of the perpetrators. Motives of cyber criminals range from vanity (proving one’s technical expertise) to illegal profit. Some attacks are politically motivated while others are rarely publicized, state-sponsored sabotage. The attacks affect individuals, businesses, and governments.
According to a report by the Ponemon Institute, a successful hacker earns $14,711 for each attack and has 8.26 successful attacks per year. Sophisticated hacking tools are readily available on the Internet, especially the Dark Web. The criminals and the curious are stepping up their efforts to invade your privacy and steal your money. What actions can you take to harden the target and protect your assets?
What actions can you take to harden the target and protect your assets?

Understand the Enemy

Malicious software can wreak havoc on your computer or operate covertly in the background. Malware (The Creeper Worm) was first detected on the ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet, in the early 1970s. Since that time, spurred by the growth of personal computers and connected communication networks, many different types of malware have appeared, including:
Trojans: The most common malware is based on the Greek strategy to invade Troy: the Trojan Horse. In this case, users are tricked into allowing an outsider unlimited access to their computers by clicking on an unsafe Internet link, opening an email attachment, or completing a form. By themselves, Trojans are delivery vehicles, providing a “backdoor” into a computer or network. As a consequence, they open the door for malicious software to steal data, compromise operating systems, or spy on users. Trojans do not replicate themselves and spread to other devices like a virus or a worm.
Viruses: Just as a biological virus is transmitted to unsuspecting hosts, a computer virus replicates itself and infects new computers, then modifies operating programs to malfunction. Some have called viruses “diseases of machinery,” a term first coined in the 1972 futuristic film “Westworld.” One of the early viruses – Love Letter – delivered by an email with the subject line “I Love You” and an attachment “L0VE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT” – attacked 55 million computers worldwide and caused an estimated $10 billion in damage, according to Wired magazine.
Read more . . .

Understanding the Dark Net

dark-web-user-918x516British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a new police/intelligence agency on December 10, 2014, to monitor the “Dark Web,” as reported by The Independent. According to Cameron, “The dark net is the next side of the problem, where pedophiles and perverts are sharing images, not using the normal parts of the Internet we all use.”
Independent web consultant Mark Stockley concurs, claiming in Naked Security that the dark web “attracts people who want to engage in things like robbery, sex trafficking, arms trafficking, terrorism and distributing child pornography.” In the International Business Times, writers Charles Paladin and Jeff Stone claim electronic goods, contract killers, guns, passports, fake IDs, and hackers for hire are readily available on the dark web, in addition to illegal drugs and child pornography.
For most of the general public, the 2013 arrest of Ross Ulbright – known online as the “Dread Pirate Roberts” and the founder of a dark website, Silk Road – was the first evidence of a hidden, anonymous web. Silk Road was one of many websites outside the search capability of ordinary web browsers such as FireFox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. While the majority of products sold on Silk Road were illegal drugs, the success of the site led to other dark websites such as Sheep Marketplace and Black Market Reloaded with minimal restrictions on the products and services for sale.
As a consequence of the lack of regulation, David J. Hickton, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, called the dark web the “Wild West of the Internet” in a Rolling Stone interview. IBM’s Managed Security Services Threat Research group calls the hidden web a marketplace for drugs, weapons, stolen data and “anything else a criminal entrepreneur might need or want to sell,” and advises its customers that the dark web “is not a neighborhood you visit for any legitimate reason.”

Web Strata

While the terms “Internet” and “World Wide Web” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. The former refers to a massive network of networks, linking millions of computers globally where any computer can communicate with another as long as each is connected to the Internet. The World Wide Web is an information sharing model built on top of the Internet that uses the HTTP protocol, browsers such as Chrome or Firefox, and webpages to share information. The web is a large part of the Internet, but not its only component – for example, email and instant messaging are not part of the web, but are part of the Internet.
To read more . . .