Section 5.5: Security Features

To ensure security, you need to focus on all the features of security. Some of the features of security include wireless security, security with malicious software, locking workstation, and BIOS Security.

Section 5.5.1: Wireless Security

Wireless systems are the systems that do not use wires to transmit information rather they use air to transmit data. This system is also not secure. The data can be intercepted in transit and can be misused. The wireless controllers use Service Set Identifiers (SSID), which are special ID numbers in the network cards to ensure security. Besides, they use the following components:

  • Wireless Transport Layer Security (WTLS): This is a security layer of Wireless Applications Protocol (WAP) and provides authentication, encryption, and data integrity to wireless devices.
  • IEEE 802.11x Wireless Protocols: IEEE 802.11x is a family of Wireless Protocols that use radio frequency transmissions. The frequencies in use are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Several standards are:
  • 802.11: provides 1 or 2 Mbps transmission in the 2.4 GHz band using either frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) or direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS).
  • 802.11a: provides up to 54-Mbps in the 5GHz band. It uses an orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) encoding scheme rather than FHSS or DSSS.
  • 802.11b: provides 11 Mbps transmission (with a fallback to 5.5, 2 and 1Mbps) in the 2.4 GHz band. 802.11b uses only DSSS.
  • 802.11g —provides bandwidths of 20Mbps+ in the 2.4GHz frequency spectrum. It is used for transmission over short distances at up to 54Mbps.
  • WAP: This is a technology designed for use with mobile devices such as PDAs and cell phones. It bridges the gap between the mobile world and the Internet and is a global standard that is not controlled by any single company. The functions of WAP are similar to TCP/IP and server the same purpose for wireless communications. WAP system communicates with WAP gateway system, which converts the information back and forth between HTTP and WAP.
  • WEP: This is a privacy protocol specified in IEEE 802.11 to provide secure communication to wireless LAN users. It provides a privacy service to wireless LAN users similar to that provided by the physical security inherent in a wired LAN. WEP however, in relatively new and is vulnerable due to weaknesses in the encryption algorithms.

Section 5.5.2: Malicious Software Protection

Malware or the malicious software, as the name suggests is software that infiltrates your computer without your consent. It includes a variety of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code.

  • Computer virus: A program that infects computer systems. It may do nothing more then residing on a computer till it finds executable software that causes it to spread. Viruses are actively transmits itself over a network to infect other computers and can destroy your important software.
  • Worm: A malicious program similar to virus but that spreads automatically unlike virus.
  • Trojan horse: A harmful program that conceals itself and invites the user to run it. The harmful effects may take start immediately and can cause deleting the user's files or further installing malicious or undesirable software.
  • Spyware: They do not replicate themselves like viruses but it can be equally or even more harmful to your computer. They may not disrupt you while you work on your computer but may collect private information from your computer such as credit card information, social security number, and information about your usage and send them to remote computers.
  • Adware: Somewhat similar to spyware but the main purpose of these programs is advertisement. They may not be considered to be malware because the user actually consents to having the adware installed on their computer. It may hit you with a barrage of advertisements; from pop-ups to banner ads.
  • Grayware: It is a very broad term used for all computer programs that are annoying but not necessarily totally destructive, including adware, joke programs and dialers.

Section 5.5.3: BIOS Security

Besides powering up your system the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) also protects your system from being misused. The BIOS allows you to set password that can add an extra layer of security for computers. This prevents a user from changing the BIOS settings and booting the computer without a password.

Sometimes, BIOS passwords may also become troublesome if users forget their password. The common way to workout BIOS security is to remove the battery and thereby erasing the CMOS.

Section 5.5.4: Social Engineering:

Social engineering another type of attack that does not involve tempering with software rather it deals with exploiting the human behavior. It is an act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. It is based on specific attributes of human decision-making.

A person using social engineering may try to gain the confidence of an employee of a company who is authorized to access the network and try to get him to reveal information that compromises the network's security. Another example of social engineers can be calling the authorized employee with some kind of urgent problem and push them to divulge secret information of the company and the passwords.