Understanding Computer Security: Protecting Networks and Personal Privacy

The term “computer security” is widely used, but the actual vulnerability of computer content is limited unless the computer is connected to a network. With the significant increase in computer network usage, particularly the Internet, computer security now encompasses issues related to the networked use of computers and their resources.

The key technical aspects of computer security are confidentiality, integrity, and authentication/availability.

Confidentiality, also known as secrecy or privacy, ensures that unauthorized parties cannot access your information. Breaches of confidentiality can range from embarrassing incidents to severe disasters.

Integrity safeguards your information against undetectable unauthorized changes made by individuals who have access. Databases and other resources often face compromises in integrity due to hacking attempts.

Authentication verifies that a user is indeed who they claim to be.

Availability ensures that resources are accessible to authorized parties. “Denial of service” attacks are examples of availability threats.

Computer security professionals also focus on access control and non-repudiation. Access control ensures that users can only access the resources and services they are entitled to and that they are not unfairly denied access. Non-repudiation ensures that a person cannot deny having sent a message, and vice versa.

Beyond these technical aspects, computer security is a vast concept drawing from disciplines such as ethics and risk analysis. Key topics of concern include computer crime (prevention, detection, and response to attacks) and identity/anonymity in cyberspace.

While confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity are crucial in computer security overall, for everyday internet users, privacy holds the highest importance. Many individuals may feel they have nothing to hide or that the information they provide during online registrations is not sensitive. However, it is essential to recognize that information shared on the internet can be easily combined and linked by companies, revealing a more comprehensive picture of a person. Thus, the ability to maintain control over collected information, its usage, and who can access it becomes extremely significant in today’s digital landscape.