information security issues are complex and are often rooted in organizational and business concerns. information security requires far more than the latest tool or technology. organizations must understand exactly what they are trying to protect (and why) before selecting specific solutions.
computer security is a branch of computer technology known as information security as applied to computers and networks. the objective of computer security includes protection of information and property from theft, corruption, or natural disaster, while allowing the information and property to remain accessible and productive to its intended users. the term computer system security means the collective processes and mechanisms by which sensitive and valuable information and services are protected from publication, tampering or collapse by unauthorized activities or untrustworthy individuals and unplanned events respectively. the strategies and methodologies of computer security often differ from most other computer technologies because of its somewhat elusive objective of preventing unwanted computer behavior instead of enabling wanted computer behavior.
cyber warfare refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. it is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation.
cyberwarfare has been defined as actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation's computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption. the economist describes cyberwarfare as the fifth domain of warfare, and william j. lynn, u.s. deputy secretary of defense, states that as a doctrinal matter, the pentagon has formally recognized cyberspace as a new domain in warfare which has become just as critical to military operations as land, sea, air, and space.
in 2009, president barack obama declared america's digital infrastructure to be a strategic national asset, and in may 2010 the pentagon set up its new u.s. cyber command (uscybercom), headed by general keith b. alexander, director of the national security agency (nsa), to defend american military networks and attack other countries' systems. the united kingdom has also set up a cyber-security and operations centre based in government communications headquarters (gchq), the british equivalent of the nsa. in the u.s. however, cyber command is only set up to protect the military, whereas the government and corporate infrastructures are primarily the responsibility respectively of the department of homeland security and private companies. cyber warfare is the least common type of warfare and has not been used effectively to date.
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in february 2010, top american lawmakers warned that the threat of a crippling attack on telecommunications and computer networks was sharply on the rise. according to the lipman report, numerous key sectors of the u.s. economy along with that of other nations are currently at risk, including cyber threats to public and private facilities, banking and finance, transportation, manufacturing, medical, education and government, all of which are now dependent on computers for daily operations. in 2009, president obama stated that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grids. the economist writes that china has plans of winning informationised wars by the mid-21st century. they note that other countries are likewise organizing for cyberwar, among them russia, israel and north korea. iran boasts of having the world's second-largest cyber-army. james gosler, a government cybersecurity specialist, worries that the u.s. has a severe shortage of computer security specialists, estimating that there are only about 1,000 qualified people in the country today, but needs a force of 20,000 to 30,000 skilled experts. at the july 2010 black hat computer security conference, michael hayden, former deputy director of national intelligence, challenged thousands of attendees to help devise ways to reshape the internet's security architecture, explaining, you guys made the cyberworld look like the north german plain.
�those who fail to learn the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat them.� -- george santayana
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secure by design, in software engineering, means that the software has been designed from the ground up to be secure. malicious practices are taken for granted and care is taken to minimize impact when a security vulnerability is discovered or on invalid user input. generally, designs that work well do not rely on being secret. it is not mandatory, but proper security usually means that everyone is allowed to know and understand the design because it is secure. this has the advantage that many people are looking at the code, and this improves the odds that any flaws will be found sooner. of course, attackers can also obtain the code, which makes it easier for them to find vulnerabilities as well. also, it is very important that everything works with the least amount of privileges possible . for example a web server that runs as the administrative user can have the privilege to remove files and users that do not belong to itself. thus, a flaw in that program could put the entire system at risk. on the other hand, a web server that runs inside an isolated environment and only has the privileges for required network and filesystem functions, cannot compromise the system it runs on unless the security around it is in itself also flawed. a perfect authentication system for logins does not allow anyone to log in at all, because the user could be a threat to the system. however, some designs can never be perfect. passwords, biometrics, and such are never perfect.