A backdoor is about any method by which user is able to get around regular security measures and get high level access type on a system/app. Backdoor Trojans couldn’t be more appropriately named as they offer the person or group who created them the ability to slip unnoticed into the victim’s machine and make changes to it both remotely and invisibly. If a user’s machine becomes infected with a backdoor, then they probably won’t even know it’s there. It may only be later that they find out that a backdoor can be used to do things like run malware, remove private information, or send login details to external sources.
A backup is a copy of the data vital for comprehensive recovery in case of software or hardware failures. There are different backup types including normal, copy, incremental and differential as well as various strategies suitable for certain scenarios. In case of hosting industry routine approach is about full automation of backup processes.
Information can be protected if it is transformed into a more secure format. In essence, cryptography is the science which allows ordinary information to be transformed into secure information. The process itself is called encryption, and it’s not something that’s come with the internet age – cryptography has been around for centuries, even when people used to send messages written by hand.
Of course, nowadays most cryptography techniques are used to protect data that is digital, not handwritten. Cryptography is a computer science which involves manipulating data into a format which can only be recognized by users who are authorized.
To illustrate how cryptography works, imagine a message where each letter is replaced by a different character – based on a regular map. So, to decode the content you would need the table that explains how letters are transposed. This grid is called a cipher. Grids can be simple: just mapping one letter to another, but for more security a more advanced algorithm can be used that makes the grid mapping much more complex.
If you’re just going to be handwriting a note you could probably work with a simple 1-1 grid mapping, but these types of codes are easy to decipher using a computer. Computers can analyze codes at the speed of billions of operations per second, so a code has to be very complex to withstand cracking attempts. In fact, cryptography used in modern secure applications must be complex enough to be difficult for even a super computer to crack.
The dark web (or dark net as it’s sometimes known) is so called because not only is its content not indexed by normal search engines, it’s also encrypted, and that makes it even more inaccessible. It’s a part of the deep web that isn’t accessed through normal browsing behavior. Deep web material is not necessarily illegal; it’s just kept private in subscription-based online databases.
There are particular browsers, like the Tor Browser, which users will need to access the dark web. The attraction of using Tor is that it offers a lot of extra privacy.
The dark web trades on its inherent extra secrecy, and this has made it popular amongst political dissidents, and indeed with anyone who wants to keep their personal business private. Naturally, this has led to its adoption by criminal elements, and this unfortunate trend has stoked its reputation as a marketplace for drugs, stolen data, and so on.
About the Dark Web
The dark web resembles what the Internet looked like in its early days. It’s full of amateurish content, some of which is about how to actually make it work, and in truth there is much to do when you get there. On the plus side, it’s easy to start a site and gain attention, and as of 2020, tech giants and large corporations don’t hold much sway there, which is appealing to some.
So, it’s kind of a work in progress, it has some rough edges, and no one quite understands all of its pluses and minuses yet. In much the same way as the early Internet attracted suspicion and concern, the dark web has done the same. It’s become synonymous with crimes like child abuse and murder for hire, but it isn’t as if humanity hadn’t thought of those things a long time ago already, and as for drugs, some of the ones that were once sold on the dark web have now been decriminalized in some jurisdictions.
The dark web makes it more difficult to enforce both good and bad laws, but its covert nature has given rise to plenty of good things. Its provided safe havens and community support for people in countries that might persecute them for their sexuality or religious beliefs, and for those trying to share information about what’s really happening within repressive regimes it’s been a lifeline.
Cryptocurrencies are often used to pay for purchases on the dark web, but it’s important to acknowledge that they’re entirely separate things and to also note that even though Bitcoin and others may be used on the dark web, many sites are only informative and have no shop functionality. There are many such sites because the dark web makes it easier to set them up with anonymity.
The terms “dark web” and “deep web” are often used as if they’re synonymous, but as we’ve said, one is a subset of the other and they are not the same. The deep web includes many sites that won’t appear in your web search and services that exist behind a login, such as banking and file hosting services. The dark web is just another element of the deep web.
Advantages of the Dark Web
The dark web helps people to express themselves publicly without compromising their identity. Now that we live in an age where the information we share online can be used to name and shame us, it’s important to have public fora where we can speak without fear of reprisals.
If there are criminals there, then perhaps one of the benefits of the dark web is that it helps law enforcement officials to find them, as it’s the perfect place to run undercover operations!
Disadvantages of the Dark Web
Everything has its downside and the dark web is no exception. Combination of anonymity and cryptocurrencies have proven to be very attractive criminals and they have used the dark web to do everything from hiring killers to releasing private information without authorization.
You might have heard the term “DDoS” thrown around – well, it’s an acronym for an increasingly common security risk: the Distributed Denial of Service attack, where websites are disrupted by means of large networks of bots. Hackers use anything from thousands to millions of bots in order to generate so much traffic that a web server is overloaded – and unable to respond to legitimate users. Hence the phrase “denial” of service – and the acronym, DDoS.
Hackers could use a DDoS attack to try and get money from a website owner, or DDoS can also be used for terror or political purposes. Though DDoS does not necessarily mean that an intruder has gained access to your site, it will likely mean that visitors to your website will be unable to visit your site – meaning anything from lost viewers to lost revenue.
DDoS attacks can last a long time – as much as week or even longer if not caught early. More commonly DDoS attacks can take around a day to mitigate, but during this time a website (or an application) can for all intents and purposes appear as if it is offline. Website owners could try to use a firewall that works on the DNS layer to try and stop a DDoS attack.
The different types of DDoS attacks
Hackers can use different methods to try and pull of a DDoS attack, and you need to understand what kind of attack it is if you want to successfully block the illegitimate traffic which is flowing to your website.
Volumetric DDoS attacks
Under a volumetric DDoS attack hackers focus on bandwidth: by overloading the bandwidth to your site with traffic it crowds out real users whose traffic won’t fit through the available bandwidth. The result: your website crashes and an error comes up. Increasing the bandwidth won’t fix the issue because hackers will simply generate more traffic – you need to find a way to mitigate the DDoS attack.
Application DDoS attacks
Website owners can struggle to stop application DDoS attacks because the traffic that goes to a web server can appear incredibly similar to normal day to day application traffic. A hacker would launch an application DDoS attack, hammering away until an application goes down. Often the attacker focuses on a specific application – a specific area of a website – rather than the entire website. It can be a slow and difficult process to detect these attacks, meanwhile the hacker will build up traffic until the application stops functioning.
Protocol DDoS attacks
Another DDoS attack method, but different in scope, is the protocol attack where a malevolent actor sends ordinary requests, that are synchronised, trying to connect to a server – in turn, the web server accepts the request and creates a connection – but the attacker never respond to the accepted request; simply continuing to add new requests until the server eventually overloads and crashed.
In another example, hackers can send a particular type of ping request – an oversized ping, also called the “ping of death”. As soon as a server tries to process this ping it simply crashes under the massive load of this huge ping request.
Preventing DDoS attacks can be tricky, one highly recommended option is to use something called a WAF, or Web Application Firewall. Two good examples are Cloudflare and Sucuri, both of which are able to pick up on DDoS attacks – mitigating these attacks before it is too late.
The deep web is sometimes known as the invisible web or the hidden web, but whatever you call it, it’s about those hidden parts of the Internet that you can’t reach just by using the usual array of search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. They’re only good for finding pages on the surface web, whereas deep web information is not publicly available.
Wikipedia is an example of a website that’s on the surface web. You can easily find pages there using run-of-the-mill search engines. But when information isn’t in the public domain or access to it is restricted, it’s part of the deep web. Deep web examples could include Amazon Prime, where streaming videos are only shared with subscribers, OneDrive, where files stored in the cloud are only accessible by authorized individuals, or any financial services website where data is only shared with account holders.
Typical search engines like Bing will frequently add details of new Internet content to their index, and this information is what helps keep their search results fresh so that when users search for particular key terms, they are handed a reliable list of the most relevant and up-to-date matches. But deep web content isn’t picked up by the indexing process because it’s protected from public view.
Email antivirus protection is so important because email is one of the main avenues for getting into someone’s computer uninvited. If someone wants to send you a virus, then email is probably going to be the first route they’ll try.
It goes without saying then, that if you use email then you need a reliable email anti-virus protection service that will scan all incoming and outgoing messages (and any attached files) so that nothing malicious can get its claws into your computer or your email servers.
ClamAV is great resource that was designed specifically for scanning email gateways. ClamAV is a multifunctional, cross-platform software solution, that’s among the most effective out there. ClamAV draws from a huge virus database that is constantly being updated. It offers command-line on demand scanning, multi-threaded daemon, and support for most email and document formats. ClamAV gives your email account total antivirus protection, successfully detecting and removing any malware and viruses before they have a chance to hit your mailbox.
It’s often necessary to convert data from one format to another format. This process is called encoding. You might encode data to save space, to make it easier to process, or for a variety of other reasons. Think, for example about image encoding and of course video and audio encoding. Even written characters can be encoded so that text can be read by computers.
For example, a media file is often encoded to reduce the amount of space it takes up on a disk. Compressed formats, a typical reason to encode video, images and audio, are simply more efficient. The quality is typically quite similar to the file before it is encoded but the size of the media is smaller.
Typical encoding formats include .WAV, which is a WAVE file, and a .MP3 file – where the MP3 format is about a tenth of the size of a WAVE file. Likewise, video stored in a .DV or Digital Video format can be encoded using the MPEG algorithm, which compresses digital video into an .MPG file which is just a much smaller version of the .DV file.
Another important application of encoding is character encoding, where text characters are converted into bytes. This is done because a computer can only ready binary data, not text. So each character of text must be changed into binary code – whether it is a space, a number or a letter. Encoding systems used to convert text to binary include ASCII and Unicode.
Note that, when data is encoded, only programs that support the specific encoding in use will be able to read the data. For video and audio it means that a codec must be available, and often the codec works in real-time to decode data. On the flipside, many text editors would be able to read files with any one of a number of text encoding methods. However, where the encoding in a file is not fully supported you could find that some of the letters appears as odd symbols like boxes instead of the original text.
The word Firewall takes its name from the world of architecture, where it means a partition made of fireproof material. In the world of computers and networking, a firewall also helps to stop you getting burned, by keeping outsiders breaking into your website, and metaphorically burning it to the ground.
It’s one of the key technologies that keep your computer or network safe from hackers and malicious software. Firewall software can control the traffic moving between networks and protect home and office networks from all the destructive stuff that’s always circulating on the Internet.
For internal networks, which often connect to the Internet through routers, the router itself provides a hardware solution with some basic Firewall functions. Any computers that connect to a router will also have their own Firewall software—or should do. Windows PCs often comes with freeware or trial Firewall software to get you started, and Windows itself has a built-in firewall application if all else fails.
Firewalls aren’t quite like brick walls. They’re more like intelligent gatekeepers. They have enough flexibility built in to them to either block or allow certain programs from accessing the Internet, specific traffic, sites, or IP addresses. You can even tell them to block certain protocols and ports. Some Firewall software can weed out specific types of media, as well as excluding certain words or phrases or stopping content downloading and uploading. This kind of flexibility means that you can easily set different levels of security for all the computers on your network.
In today’s cyber security environment you can no longer risk transferring your data across an unencrypted connection. Standard FTP ( File Transfer Protocol ) has been around a long time and does not on its own encrypt data, it’s simply not secure and the files you transmit over standard FTP can be intercepted and read.
A number of safer versions of FTP exists, and one of these is SFTP also known as Secure File Transfer Protocol or indeed SSH File Transfer Protocol. It’s used to send files and manage FTP sessions, but it’s not just a better version of FTP, it’s actually an entirely different protocol which has functions similar to FTP.
Understanding how Secure FTP works
First, SFTP uses a secure shell (SSH) connection to securely send files over the internet. So, instead of unencrypted transmissions like FTP, SFTP offers secure and encrypted transmission of all the data – including your credentials and the FTP command sequences.
You’d think there is little reason not to use SFTP, and you’d be right, but unfortunately, not all the FTP clients support SFTP. It’s worth noting that SFTP is actually an extension on another protocol, SSH-2 which is a protocol used to transfer files across secure shell and other protocols, including transport layer security (TLS).
Most platforms can support SFTP, and you can rest assured that SFTP is always secure, but of course SFTP relies on some underlying secure protocol – which is SSH in most cases.
What’s the difference between SFTP and FTPS?
FTPS is different from Secure FTP – it is an extension of the standard FTP protocol which allows FTP sessions to be encrypted. It uses AUTH TLS or AUTH SSL as commands to start this secure connection, which then allows you to perform transfers across either SSL or TLS.
Both SSL and TLS are used around the internet but not every FTP server support FTPS over these protocols. Choose between an implicit FTPS connection that will always encrypt any data that is transferred or an explicit FTPS connection where you can start both an unencrypted and an encrypted session.