Computer attacks happen each and every day. Simply connect an innocuous computer to the In-ternet, and someone will try to pry into the machine three, five, or a dozen times every 24 hours.Even without any advertisements or links bringing attention to it, attackers looking for vulnerableprey will constantly scan your machine or pummel you with e-mail trying to trick you into openingan innocuous-appearing attachment. If the computer is used for actual business purposes, such asa commercial, educational, not-for-profit, or even military system, it will get even more attention fromthe bad guys.Many of these attacks are mere scans looking for particularly weak prey. Others are really sophis-ticated computer break-ins, which occur with increasing frequency as any glimpse of recent head-lines demonstrates. In just a year’s time, various government agencies around the world have pub-licly admitted they were targeted with a customized Trojan horse designed to pilfer very sensitivegovernment secrets. Attackers have stolen untold millions of credit card numbers from e-commercesites, banks, and credit card processors, sometimes turning to extortion of the victim company toget paid not to release customers’ credit card information. Numerous online retailers have beentemporarily shut down due to major packet floods. A major U.S.-based high-tech manufacturer dis-closed that attackers had broken into its network and stolen the source code for future releases of its popular networking product. The stories go on and on.The purpose of this book is to illustrate how many of these attacks are conducted so that you candefend your computers against cyber siege. By exploring in detail the techniques used by the badguys, we can learn how to defend our systems and turn the tables on the attackers.
The Computer World and the Golden Age of Hacking
Over the last several decades, our society has rapidly become very dependent on computer tech-nology. We’ve taken the controls for our whole civilization and loaded them onto digital machines.Our computer systems are responsible for storing sensitive medical information, guiding aircraftaround the world, conducting nearly all financial transactions, planning food distribution, and eventransmitting love letters. When I was a kid (not all
long ago, mind you), computers were primarilyfor nerds, something avoided by most people who had a choice in the matter. Only 15 years ago,the Internet was the refuge of researchers and academics. Now, as a major component of our population stares into computer screens and talks on cell phones all day long for both business andpersonal use, these technologies dominate our headlines and economy.I’m sure you’ve noticed that the underlying technologies behind computers and networks have manyflaws. Sure, there are counterintuitive user interfaces and frequent computer crashes. Beyond theseeasily observed bugs, however, there are some fundamental flaws in the design and implementationof the underlying operating systems, applications, and protocols. By taking advantage of these flaws,an attacker can steal data, take over systems, or otherwise wreak havoc.Indeed, we have created a world that is inherently hackable. With our great reliance on computersand the numerous flaws found in most systems, this is the Golden Age of Hacking. New flaws incomputer technology are being discovered every day and widely shared throughout a burgeoningcomputer underground. By setting up a lab in the comfort of their own homes, attackers and security1
Chapter 1. Introduction. Counter Hack Reloaded, Second Edition: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses, ISBN: 978013
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