Network Security

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's July 2001

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Network Security in the New Millenium My family is installing DSL and wireless networking, which will expose us to substantially more security problems than in the past. Wireless networking is likely to appear soon at the UCLA Mathematics Department as well. My goal is, therefore, to assess what the threats are and how they might be mitigated. It is generally believed that a determined attacker with plenty of time and large but achievable resources is likely to successfully perpetrate any exploit he pleases, just as a determined burglar or embezzler is likely to be able to steal any of your resources. Nonetheless, most people who are careful about physical security do not get burgled, and I believe that the threat of hacking can be similarly reduced to an acceptable level.

First, some nomenclature. The ``hacker'' is the person perpetrating the attack, but since this essay is about computer threats, the ``hacker'' will often mean the computer operated by the meat person.

The ``victim'' is the one being attacked. The ``exploit'' is whatever the hacker does. Frequently exploits are nested, e.g. the hacker first gains root access (a root exploit) and then uses that access to obtain encrypted material which he then cracks. It's a fact of life that most attacks involve a ``dupe'', a computer, and an account on that computer, which the hacker uses as a transfer point, so if the attack is caught in progress or if traces are found, the trail leads back to the dupe, and is frequently lost at that point. Nonetheless I will generally ignore the dupe and discuss as if the hacker and the victim were interacting directly.

Types of Threats Threats can be targeted or random. As an example of a targeted threat, the hacker may decide that the victim specifically has money worth...