Friday, October 14, 2005

Internet Security: Dave Brown;

Internet security

Key issues:

  • potential damage to computer
  • how to protect against

How the following are different from viruses and how we can protect
against them:

Dangers of downloading software from the internet.

Common Spam techniques to trick users into opening malicious code.

  • Spoofing email address (very easy)
  • Phishing (attempts daily)
  • text links to eg. Http:// which are really images
    going to another site
  • Social Engineering (eg. Hello, I'm your ISP I need you to download this bit of software and run it)

What Norton Security/Zone Alarm does

What Norton Security/Zone Alarm doesn't protect against (eg. Difficulty of Trojans, key loggers)

Cookies. Privacy issues

Third party cookies

  • privacy issues (lies with a third party)
  • enabling/disabling in browsers, security levels
  • Third party cookies and affiliate networks etc.

Passwords, automatic screen locks

General Password Construction Guidelines

Poor, weak passwords have the following characteristics:

  • The password contains less than eight characters
  • The password is a word found in a dictionary (English or foreign)
  • The password is a common usage word such as:

    • Names of family, pets, friends, co-workers, fantasy characters,
    • Computer terms and names, commands, sites, companies, hardware,
    • The words "", "sanjose", "sanfran" or any
    • Birthdays and other personal information such as addresses and
      phone numbers.
    • Word or number patterns like aaabbb, qwerty, zyxwvuts, 123321,
    • Any of the above spelled backwards.
    • Any of the above preceded or followed by a digit (e.g., secret1,

Strong passwords have the following characteristics:

  • Contain both upper and lower case characters (e.g., a-z, A-Z)
  • Have digits and punctuation characters as well as letters e.g.,
    0-9, !@#$%^&*()_+|~-=\`{}[]:";'<>?,./)
  • Are at least eight alphanumeric characters long.
  • Are not a word in any language, slang, dialect, jargon, etc.
  • Are not based on personal information, names of family, etc.

Passwords should never be written down or stored on-line. Try to create passwords that can be easily remembered. One way to do this is create a password based on a song title, affirmation, or other phrase.

For example, the phrase might be: "This May Be One Way To Remember" and the password could be: "TmB1w2R!" or "Tmb1W>r~" or some other variation.

Here is a list of "dont's":

  • Don't reveal a password over the phone to ANYONE
  • Don't reveal a password in an email message
  • Don't reveal a password to the boss
  • Don't talk about a password in front of others
  • Don't hint at the format of a password (e.g., "my family name")
  • Don't reveal a password on questionnaires or security forms
  • Don't share a password with family members
  • Don't reveal a password to co-workers while on vacation

If someone demands a password have them call someone in the Information Security Department.

Do not use the "Remember Password" feature of applications(e.g., Eudora, OutLook, Netscape Messenger).

Again, do not write passwords down and store them anywhere in your office. Do not store passwords in a file on ANY computer system (including Palm Pilots or similar devices) without encryption.

Change passwords at least once every six months (except system-level passwords which must be changed quarterly). The recommended change interval is every four months.

If an account or password is suspected to have been compromised, report the incident to the IT team and change all passwords.

Credits: This is based on the security templates from


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