Chapter 7. IT Security

In This Chapter

  • Looking out over the threat landscape

  • Getting a grip on some common security threats

  • Looking into the mind and motivations of a data thief

  • Combatting IT security threats

  • Discovering what the cyber-criminal is really after

To say IT security is only worthy of one chapter is underselling it — hugely. There are hundreds of books on the topic in all of its aspects. However we are looking at IT security from a data-leak perspective. We start by looking at the threat landscape, what's out there and coming to get you. If you know where the threats are, you can protect yourself from them. The other key to understanding IT security is to understand the people who are after your information: the data thieves and cyber-criminals. Forewarned is forearmed (there's that refrain again).

Surveying the Threat Landscape

So just what is a threat landscape? No place to camp out, for sure. Basically it's the big picture that encompasses a range of cyber-criminals and the threats they pose. Once that landscape was relatively flat — back in the time of the first viruses and computer attacks. While the first known spam (e-mail sent to people who didn't ask for it) cropped up back in the late 1970s, it wasn't until the mid-'80s that first viruses started becoming known. Figure 7-1 provides an overview of the constant march of computer threats.

Back in the '80s, there was no Internet as we know it today. Academic institutions and big high-tech companies used a forerunner of ...

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