Category Archive Information Security

ByJayanthi

Hacking

While ‘Information security’ always gives us images of breaches, hacks, stolen credit card numbers and bank account numbers, my blog has always been associated with the concepts of ‘Information security’ or the many defenses that are there to keep your information safe.

In this post, I will like to delve into the reality of letting off the ‘Information security’defenses down. Apart from the breaches and hacks, what are the other ugly things that are possible?  While this may be common knowledge to those in InfoSec domain – it may not be known to every one. It is always a common thought – “it will not happen to me” – it is a reality that it does happen quite frequently and everybody gets affected at some point or other!

  1. Remotely controlling  Android/Apple device 

                There are a variety of ways in which one can remotely control another person’s Android or Apple device.  There are plenty of apps that allow you to control an Android device from a PC, via an another Android device, via WiFi, via Bluetooth and really the possibilities are endless!  

I am sure most of you remember the time when Saket Modi, the co-founder and CEO of Lucideus hacked the phone of a person sitting in the audience. Through this hacking, he was able to procure the subject’s SMSes, contacts, call logs, GPS locations and more! (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fT6pUQrY6M)

2. Hacking cars?

Is this even possible? Yes – maybe in the future! Researchers have shown that hackers can remotely kill your engine, lock the doors to your car, put the car in reverse gear without your permission and many other frightening moves! 

Automotive hacking may be a distinct possibility as the years roll by!

hacker

3. ATM skimming

Many people are sure to have fallen to this type of hack. A small skimmer is attached to the ATM machine by means of which bank details are retrieved.  The numbers are then transferred to blank ATM cards and money and data are stolen! 

4. Keylogger

‘Keylogger’ is a type of surveillance software which when installed on your system, can monitor every key stroke, record passwords, captures screenshots and more. It can be run in invisible mode and thereby the user will have no clue of its presence. This is commonly used by employers to keep tabs on their employees. 

In addition to all this, the devious mind can find ways to see your private Facebook picture, Instagram pictures and any other private information. In short, the more you want to keep it private online, the more someone is eager to see it! 🙂

This is just the tip of the wild side of security hacks… anything is possible  for a determined mind! 

How do we protect ourselves from all this?

Maintain a minimal online presence.  And it is good to keep up with all security updates and install all patches and upgrades as and when posted.

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ByJayanthi

What are Smart Contracts?

‘Smart Contracts’ is a term that is often used in the Blockchain world. ‘Smart Contracts are similar to legal contracts but are encoded in the ‘Blockchain’ . ‘Ethereum’, the public blockchain is the most popular way to create smart contracts.

We encounter physical ‘contracts’ throughout our life. Contracts are present when we start a new job(detailing the job details and the date of salary payments)  , when we buy a new house(detailing our mortgage payments and the corresponding dates , when we buy a new vehicle(detailing loan payments)

Home loans, car loans and most other critical dealings come with contracts. ‘Contracts’ enable the buyer and seller to keep their word. In a home buying scenario, once the buyer completes all his mortgage payments, the loaner company should release the title and deed and all appropriate paperwork to the buyer. There are lengthy clauses which cover every aspect of our business dealings.

An example of a legal statement might be as follows: ‘If the bill is not paid by a certain due date, then add a corresponding late fee or revoke the license’. 

What if this could be automated and enforced without any manual intervention? Is this possible? yes – by means of smart contracts. 

In a ‘smart contract’ the contract itself is coded and it is further stored and monitored by the Blockchain network.  Once a condition is met, the contract executes automatically. This ensures transparency along with elimination of middlemen.

‘Smart Contracts’ are mostly written in the ‘Solidity’ programming language.

This is just a short glimpse into the world of ‘smart contracts’. Join me as I uncover more technical topics about the ‘Blockchain’ world  in subsequent posts…

 

 

smart contracts
ByJayanthi

Wireshark

For those who would like to look deep into their networks and not just on the outside, “Wireshark – the network protocol analyzer,” is the way to go!  We will understand what is meant by “sniffing”, why it is used and how the Wireshark network protocol analyzer works in this post.

What are sniffers?

While social media rages on one side giving rise to new professions, there is another equally quiet but stealthy profession too – monitoring other people’s networks and activities by means of “sniffing”. Since a firewall cannot detect all malicious traffic we use “sniffers” to monitor the traffic across the network.  As with everything else in security, “sniffers” can be used in a positive and negative way either by employers monitoring their employees or by scrupulous individuals trying to hack systems.

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ByJayanthi

Blockchain lingo!

 Blockchain, AI and machine learning are the latest buzzwords in the IT industry. Building a blockchain is also becoming a need for various businesses. Recall, that a “Blockchain” is the distributed shared ledger for recording and storing transactions. Each of the participant in the business network has a copy of the ledger which is updated regularly.

Before building a blockchain, there are a few keywords that have to be mastered and we will discuss them today.

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ByJayanthi

Myths about the US

As I start my writing again, I gravitate towards my pet topic of India and US again! 🙂

As I see the numbers swell outside the US Consulate to obtain a US visa, I recollect some of the myths that we dealt with when we were stepping into the US(many,many years ago!)

Shop from BigBasket!

  1. Rosy dream starts right away? Nope, the rosy dreamy takes time and patience… 🙂 I hear so much about people getting paid much better in US than in India – but that might not be true immediately. If you are in high demand states like California or New York in high demand professions like IT, it may be a possibility. But everybody goes through a settling phase of a new employer, new country, new prices , new car and so on. So, the magical six figure salary in US dollars might not arrive instantly for all.
  2. Cost of living in US is much higher than in India. Period. 🙂
  3. Even though we feel that “everybody” from India is in the US, the fact is that we cannot see “everybody” or “anybody” since everybody is in a different state and going from state to state to meet anybody/everybody is not feasible. So, in all possibilities you will see “everybody” in India, only! 🙂
  4. Will you earn better if you have a US degree? Nope, there too. It has always been the economics concept of ‘supply vs demand’ that has brought Indian professionals to the US. If you have the right skills that are in demand currently in the US, you don’t need a US degree to validate your experience(although pursuing higher education in the US is a delight 🙂 and a higher degree might prove beneficial later on in the career)
  5. Are jobs stable in the US? Nope, again! 🙂 Just as software professionals get paid astronomically they get laid off easily too. After all what is a company to do – when they themselves are sinking? And with immigration policies constantly changing, jobs are never a certainty. In addition, professionals ‘on the bench’ waiting for the next project is also a reality.
  6. “Can I start studying immediately?” might be another thought for those on dependent visas. Pursuing higher education in US is a wonderful experience but it does pinch the pockets. In order to pay for your graduate education, you may have to work as a research assistant or teaching assistant or do other eligible jobs(within visa conditions) Bottom line, US education is good but not cheap.
  7. Professionals get paid according to their location – it might not be so evident in India – but it is in the US. If you make $50K in Georgia, you need $81K in San Diego, California!!  For more information on cost of living calculators in the US, visit this link (Source: http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/index.html)
  8. Health insurance is  an absolute necessity for all members of the family and for all visiting family members too. It can be quite tricky too. When living abroad, pray that you never fall seriously sick. Not only will you not have enough moral support, the physical support will be missing as well.
  9. Is driving hard in the US? Nope – on the other hand, it is quite a pleasure 🙂 One will definitely enjoy the perfectly regulated traffic and lane discipline. I know, I did! 🙂
  10. And lastly the spouses of those on H1 visas and F1 visas cannot work. This can be a real bummer particularly for women who were actively working in India.

Once you are done with all the ups and downs of finding the perfect employer and perfect place to live along with a good community, living in the US will be a dream come true! 🙂 (at least for a couple of years!)

ByJayanthi

Cryptography

After having done numerous posts on Information security, here is another basic and elementary concept in Information security – ‘Cryptography’. The concept of Cryptography also encloses encryption and decryption. 

Like any other subject, the field of Cryptography is another massive ocean of information. It is the technique of hiding information to bolster secure communication. Cryptographic techniques are an absolute necessity in this digital age where any information can be snooped on. These are a few basic concepts related to Cryptography:

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ByJayanthi

What are Zombie systems?

In the Information security realm, there are different types of attacks occurring all over the world. There are virus attacks, phishing, worm attacks, DOS  and DDoS attacks and others. In order to understand “Zombie systems”, we have to talk about DDoS(Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. Read More

ByJayanthi

XOR operator in Java

In the Java programming language, a ‘variable’ is used to store a value. Different kinds of operations can be performed on the variables by means of ‘operators’.  The Java programming language has a number of operators and these are listed below:

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ByJayanthi

VPN(Virtual private network)

VPN or ‘Virtual Private network’ is exactly what it states – it is a private and virtual connection to your corporate network. While it is easy and comfortable to make use of free and open Wi-Fi in open spaces to access corporate resources, it is highly susceptible to different types of attacks(stealing your password might be the simplest one) VPNs enable professionals to access corporate resources in a safe and secure manner.

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ByJayanthi

Usage of Information security

‘Information security’ in the broadest sense is the protection of information and assets from malicious elements. Individuals and organizations are both subjected to virus, ransomware, data breach attacks and hence this concept of ‘information security’ applies to all. Let us see a few of the ‘Information security’ concepts being applied to organizations as well as individuals.

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