I know it might seem like I may be a little paranoid when it comes to practically everything on the internet but let me assure you that it is for a very good reason.
In 2005 Dutch officials discovered a major crime ring whose goal was to gain control a large network of hijacked computers through a number of viruses embedded in web sites or sent by email. Original speculation brought the hacked computer count to 100,000 infected systems but during the investigation it was found to be more than 1.5 million computers and servers. So called “Zombie” systems, aptly named because their users are for the most part unaware that the system has been hijacked, are often used to carry out DDOS attacks, host illegal content, and send millions of spam messages. These botnets exist because of a consistent lack of available security knowledge and resources to vulnerable users. Most often it is the lack of user education and exposure to common sense practices for effective computer defense that puts these systems at risk.
One of the first things that everyone should remember is that no system is completely safe and no single security solution can offer you total protection. It is vital to implement overlapping security systems to minimize the risk of intrusion and theft of your resources, For example any of my personal computers and network systems contain at least one primary and one backup virus scanner (In case the first is compromised or ineffective), an intrusion detection system (for example Snort), a spyware prevention and removal tool (such as Hijack This), a firewall on each system as well as a restricted firewall on my internet facing router. This provides a minimal safety net that will prevent or at least assist in returning any system to normal operations after an attack.
A simple Google search can wield many results for tips on securing your computer or server as well as essential resources to help maintain security. You may also want to protect yourself from unwanted attacks on internet available resources such as login pages, blogging software, and other web pages that can be easily compromised. This can be achieved by “Hardening” your code and SQL server through disabling detailed error messages to web users or limiting application permissions to prevent unwanted program execution.
We are experiencing the unprecedented growth of communications technology making it easier to gain access to resources in different geographical locations but also providing a gateway for unsavory activities. With this said I would like to stress that it is essential that you secure any internet exposed servers to protect your data and your organization.
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