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Network security entails the stipulations and strategies geared towards the prevention and monitoring of the unauthorized modification, access and misuse of the computer network. It also involves the denial of the computer network and the network accessible resources. Malwares are the biggest threat to the network security as they are developed to gain access secretly to a computer system without the knowledge of the owner. Malware comprises of spyware, Trojan horse, computer viruses, adware, root kits, worms and crime ware. According to law, malware is defined as a computer contaminant. This paper seeks to establish the different types of malware, the threat they pose to the network system, how the malware gains access to the system and how the malware can be prevented from gaining accesses to the computer system.
Malware is the short word for malicious software. This describes software which is designed to secretly gain access to a computer system without the consent of the user or owner. Generally, it has been established that the malware commonly gain access to computers via the internet. This basically entails the World Wide Web and the e-mail. In some instances, malwares are usually presented as genuine software but in essence, they are not the same as defective software. At times, malware is referred to as scum ware.
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Initially, the development of malware was done for experimental purposes and pranks. This included the internet worm and the MS-DOS viruses. They were not made to cause serious harms as they were purposefully for annoyance (Erbschloe, 2005).
The fist type of a malware is the Trojan horse. This type of a malware looks legitimate to the computer users although it has been established to be harmful. According to Cisco, this malware results to the computer user loading and executing it on their systems. There are different purposes and operations which are related to the Trojan horse. It is usually known to cause the modification of the computers which results to the computer displaying advertisements in places where they are not desired to be. Such places include the desktop or sometimes pop ups which can not be controlled. The Trojan horse also threatens the security of a machine as it might give a hacker remote access to a computer system which is targeted. This usually happens after the Trojan has been installed on the computer. The prevention of Trojan attack on computer networks is mainly depended on the use of updated anti virus.
Secondly, we have the computer worm which can be described as malicious software that is self replicating. For it to effectively carry out its replication, a computer network is essential where it sends copies of itself to other computers on the network. Sometimes, it requires the user intervention to assist in the replication and sending of its copies to other computers but this is not the case at all times as it can send its copies to the target computer due to the shortcomings of the target computer. The worms are known to cause some damage to the computer network such as the consumption of the bandwidth. We have different types of worms and they differ depending with the purpose they were created to perform. For instance the 'payloads' which consists codes designed to specifically aid in the spreading of worms (Harley, 2007).
The prevention of worm attack on computer networks is mainly depended on the use of updated anti virus or anti spyware. A firewall is also proposed to be used in the prevention of worm attack. Besides the use of these soft wares, a computer user is also advised to be cautious on which type e-mail one opens to read as some are said to aid in the spread of these worms. Patches can also be used in the prevention of worm attacks on networks.
The term 'Virus' is usually wrongly used in the reference of other malwares but mainly, a computer virus can be said to be a computer program which has the potential of replicating it self and infecting a computer. It is sometimes in an executable form code which facilitates its duplication and spread from one computer to another. Basically, this occurs when the virus has been transferred from one computer to the target computer in a network by the use external storage devices such as the flash disks, CDs and DVDs. We have two types of viruses and these include the resident and non resident viruses. They are named this way depending with the way they behave after been executed. The viruses have been established to replicate themselves when they are allowed to execute a code and write to memory.
The prevention of virus attacks is mainly relied on the use of anti virus soft wares. The anti virus soft wares do this by detecting the presence of any virus and eliminating them from the computer downloads. Besides the anti virus, it is advised that the computer user make current updates of their computer software which helps in patching security holes. This also involves the patching up of the anti virus software so that it can be able to detect any new threats. The use of back-ups is also encouraged as the stored data becomes read-only which can not be affected by viruses.
Spyware is also another form of malware. This type of malware can be installed on the computer and leads to the collection of information from the computer in little bits without the consent and knowledge of the user. Spyware's presence in a user's machine is usually concealed which makes it hard for the owner to notice it. In most cases, the spywares usually gain access to network computers through installation by one party among the users of a computer. The person who installs a spyware mostly does it secretly with the intention of monitoring other users'. In addition, it is argued that spyware gains access to the computers through trickery or in some instances it occurs through the exploitation of software vulnerabilities. Many installations of these spyware usually happens without the knowledge of the user as they are tricked that the software they are installing might result in the acceleration of their systems which is not to be.
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The prevention of spyware depends mainly on the installation of anti spyware programs. Basically, these anti-spyware programs help in the combating with spyware through the detecting and the removal of programs which are deemed to be spywares. Secondly, it helps with the real time detection of installed programs on the computer. This function is more or less the same as that of anti-virus programs (Zeltser & Skoudis, 2004).
Some security measures such as the installation of other web browsers besides the internet explorer is essential in the prevention of spywares. It is argued that even though not all web browsers are safe, Internet Explorer is deemed more vulnerable due to its large user base and the ActiveX. The use of firewalls and web proxies is also encouraged as they help in the prevention of spyware threat in the same manner they do in the prevention of virus attacks (Bishop, 2003).
In conclusion, it is important to realize that Trojans, Viruses, Worms and Spyware all comprise of malware. This then results to a shift from the protection of soft wares and spywares to the malware protection. This in turn has resulted to the development of many programs to help in combating them. The malware programs generally aid in the combating of malwares through two methods which include; the provision of immediate protection against the installation of a software program that is considered to be a malware. This function is the same as that of an anti-virus which first scans and blocks the threats presented in the network data. Secondly, the anti-malware software programs help in the detecting and getting rid of any malware software which has already found access to the machine. It does so through the scanning contents of the windows registry, installed programs on a computer and operating system and eventually provides a record of all threats which have been found. It also helps in the deletion of the malware traced (Baker, 2001).