Network Security: Design And Implementation Of Software System In Tackling Network Vulnerabilities Or Incidents

Project and Seminar Material for Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Network Security: Design And Implementation Of Software System In Tackling Network Vulnerabilities Or Incidents


Chapter One


Introduction

The term Network Security and Information Security are used often inter –changeably. Network Security is generally taken as providing protection at the boundaries of an organization by keeping out intruder (or hackers). Information Security however, explicitly focuses on protecting data resources from malware (or malicious computer software) attacks or simple mistake by people within an organization by use of data loss prevention (DLP) techniques. One the techniques are to compartmentalized large network with internal boundaries. Employees have to cross these boundaries and be authenticated when attempting to access protected information. Network Security starts from authenticating the user, commonly by with a user name and a password. Since this requires that just one thing besides user name i.e. the password which is something you

know, this is sometimes term one factor authentication. With two factor authentications something you have is also used (e.g. security token or dongle, an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) , or your mobile phone). Or with three factor authentications something you are is also used(e.g. a finger print or a retinal scan)., Once authenticated, a firewall enforces access policies such as; what services are allowed to be access by the network users or clients. Though effective to prevent unauthorized access, this component may fail to check potentially content such as; computer worm or Trojan horses being transmitted over the network. Network Security has an intrusions prevention system (IPS) which helps to detect and inhibit the action of such malware . Any anomaly based intrusions detection system(IDS) may also monitor the network and traffic for unexpected (i.e. suspicious ) contents or behaviors and other anomalies to protect resources from denial of service(DOS) attacks or an employees accessing files, virus attacks, rogue applets, stealing, credit card theft ,theft of identity, and information piracy. Individual event occurring on the network may be logged for audit purposes and for later high level analysis.

Communications between two host using networks could be encrypted to maintain privacy.

The Honey pot which consist of a computer data or a network act as Surveillances or early warning tools. Techniques used by the attackers (or hackers) that attempt to compromise the decoys resources are studied during and after an attack to keep an eye on the new exploitations techniques. Such analysis could be the actual network being protected by the honey pot. Network Security are often times called computer security, which in this aspect is termed as controlling access to hard ware, software and data of a computerized system or machine. A large measure of computer security is simply keeping the computer systems information secure. In broader terms, computer security (or Network security) can be thought as the protection of computer and its resources against accidental or intentional disclosure of confidential data, unlawful modification of data or programs, the destruction of data, software or hardware. It includes the denial of the use of ones computer system or facilities for criminal purposes or activities including; computer or network related fraud and blackmail. Network security involves the elimination of weaknesses or vulnerabilities that might be exploited to cause loss or harm of a particular information on a computer system.

Network Security revolves round three key principles, these principles are : confidentiality, integrity, availability , and sometimes non-repudiation depending on the applications and context.

1. Confidentiality: This is concern with preventing an unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information on the network. This disclosure could be intentional such as breaking a cipher(or an encrypted text) and reading the information or it could be unintentional due to careless or incompetence of individual of user handling the information.

2. Integrity: This comprises of three goals; these three goals are:

  1. Prevention of a modified information by unauthorized users.
  2. Prevention of an unauthorized or intentional modification of information by authorized uses.
  3. Prevention of the internal and external consistency. The Internal consistency ensures that the internal data is consistent, while the external consistency ensures that the data stored in the database is consistent with the real world.

Availability: This assures that a system authorized user that have timely and interrupted access to an information into system and to the network.

Non Repudiation: This assures that a sender or network user can not deny having sent a particular message. These three principles of Network security above must to evolved from years of practice and experimentation making up network history. Security management for network is different for all kind of situation, while large businesses will require high maintenance and advance software and hard ware to prevent malicious attacks from hacking and spamming. For a small home or an office would only require also basic security.

In the remaining part of this chapter, the following were discussed:

  • Historical background of the study
  • Problem of the study
  • Objective of the study
  • Significance of the study
  • Scope of the study
  • Limitation of the study

In chapter two (2), the related literatures done by some Researchers were reviewed, in chapter three (3), the methodology and design of the system were reviewed, in chapter four(4), the system implementation, documentation and testing were also discussed, and lastly in chapter five(5), a brief write-up on the summary conclusion and recommendation of the study were given.


1.2 Historical Background Of The Study

Over the past several years, when mainframe computers and minicomputers were purchased, they came with many built-in-security features. Although there were breaches of security, the number of authorized users were generally small in number sign-on ID’s and password were necessary to use the computer system, and the amount and type of usage was logged. Security information across a network source had it root in the late 1960s when network only existed in the sense of huge mainframe and multiple networked terminals. Hundreds of thousand and millions of dumb terminals were connected through hubs and concentrates to the huge central processing unit (c p u). Without the presence of client/ server network models, time sharing/multi-server, multi-tasking processors in network security was not yet a real issue. Network Security did however initially realize its importance as a result of a white-collar crime performed by a programmer for the financial division of a large cooperation. The programmer was able to embezzle money from an account that rounded their financial statements. In 1960s and into 1970s that the environment for network security did evolved.

The internet began 1969 as the APARNET, a project founded by the Advanced Researched Project Agency (ARPA) now Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) in United State of America (USA).One of the original goals of the project was to create a network that would continue to function even if major sections of the network failed or were attacked. The ARPANET was designed to reroute network traffic automatically around problems in connecting system or in passing along the necessary information to keep the network functioning. Thus, from the beginning, the internet was design to be robust against the denial-of –service attacks. The true need of network security emerged in 1980s which swathe personal computer followed by the local area network (LAN) and the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET). The history network security has been delineated, leading now into some of the numerous potential threats to information on a network. The first design on network security to route network traffic automatically around network he was done by the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) in 1988. This network was called ARPANET. Transmission control protocol (TCP) and Internet protocol(IP) were developed and communication become more stable.


1.3 Problem Of The Study

Since the emergence of hacking way back in the 1950s when amateur radio enthusiasts would tune into the police or military radio signals to listen to what was going on the United State of America. Most of the time, these “neo-hackers” were simply curious “information junkies” looking for interesting piece of information about government or military activities. The thrill was being privy to information channels others were not and doing so undetected, and since Network Security has become a very important part in the Information communication Technology (ICT), since most network user or client and organization now operate on the Internet or World Wide Web(WWW) technology and with the whole world aiming to be a global village. The problem of security on the network has become more increasing. Network related activities with negative implications that violates security policies like gaining access to a user account, gaining privilege access and using the victims system as a launch platform for attacks on other sites, probe, scan, account compromise, packet sniffers, root compromise, denial of service (DOS) network spoofing e.t.c. An overview of these network vulnerabilities or incidents and how to tackle them is the focus of my project work.


1.4 Objective Of The Study

  1. To further tighten security of the actual network being protected.
  2. To expose the importance of understanding the principles of network security.
  3. To make the information on the computer invulnerable.
  4. To avoid snooping by intruders life.
  5. To ensure information integrity and confidentiality on the computer.
  6. To avoid commercial or military espionage.

1.5 Significance Of The Study

  1. User can maintain privacy.
  2. Awareness about information security to network users or clients.
  3. Availability of information on the network computer to authorize user.
  4. User can avoid prying by non-technical user.
  5. Awareness about networked information availability to users.
  6. To make network security policy to the network users.

1.6 Scope Of The Study

Network security comprises of various platforms or approaches, but in this write-up; Design and implementation of software system in tackling network vulnerabilities or incidents was the focus of my project work.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

During the process of this research, the following Limitations were encountered, these limitations are:

  1. Time to learn new applications.
  2. Getting a computer system to do some editing was really challenging.
  3. Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) did not make things easy for me either.
  4. Time to go for more research was really challenging due to other academic work. Money to print some relevant materials.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Software:

Software refers to a program or a set of instructions and applications used to manage and control various functions of a device such as a computer. Unlike hardware, which represents a physical part of a device.

Computer Network:

A computer network is a group of computer systems and other computing hardware devices that are linked together through communication channels to facilitate communication and resource-sharing among a wide range of users. Networks are commonly categorized based on their characteristics.

Information System:

Information system (IS) is an organized collection of people, information, business processes, and information technology designed to transform inputs.(Huber et al2007).

Information Security:

Information security, sometimes shortened to InfoSec, is the practice of preventing unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, inspection, recording or destruction of information. It is a general term that can be used regardless of the form the data may take (e.g., electronic, physical). Information security’s primary focus is the balanced protection of the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data (also known as the CIA triad) while maintaining a focus on efficient policy implementation, all without hampering organization productivity.

Vulnerability:

Vulnerability refers to the inability (of a system or a unit) to withstand the effects of a hostile environment. A window of vulnerability (WOV) is a time frame within which defensive measures are diminished, compromised or lacking.

Threat:

In computer security, a threat is a possible danger that might exploit a vulnerability to breach security and therefore cause possible harm.

A threat can be either “intentional” (i.e. hacking: an individual cracker or a criminal organization) or “accidental” (e.g. the possibility of a computer malfunctioning, or the possibility of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, a fire, or a tornado) or otherwise a circumstance, capability, action, or event.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion And Recommendation

5.0 Introduction

This chapter focuses on the summary of the entire research work from start to finish. It also takes an overview on the conclusion and recommendations of the study.


5.1 Constraint of the Study

  1. Designing software to be invulnerable against attacks is like building a house where every square inch is fortified with steel and sensors that detect intrusions.
  2. Patching an existing operating system written by hundreds of programmers who were not particular about the issue of security when they wrote the code is a tedious job.

5.2 Summary

Network vulnerability is a flaw in the design or implementation of an information system that could be intentionally or unintentionally exploited to adversely affect an organization’s operations or assets through a loss of confidentiality, integrity or availability. Network vulnerabilities are predicated on either application/software loopholes or human related limitations. This fact goes to show that no network can possibly attain the status of absolute immunity from potential security breaches. It is often said that if a hacker wants to get inside your network as the case may be, there is nothing one can do about it. Perhaps, what can be done is to exhaust all avenues at making it extremely harder for the hacker to breach the system’s security. This paper discussed some of the means through which networks are exposed to malicious attacks and suggests measures to curtail or contain such eventualities. In the future we intend to probe into the vulnerabilities associated with cloud and distributed computing.


5.3 Conclusion

The need for secure network has and will always be of paramount importance to anyone designing or administering it. The security of any network involves the well-being of information in which the possibility of successful yet undetected theft, tampering, and disruption of information and services is kept low or tolerable (Kuhn, Walsh & Fries, 2005). A security network is one that boasts of an acceptable integrity (trustworthiness of data and network re-sources), authenticity (recognition and guarantee of the information origin), availability (condition whereby desired resources are accessible and obtainable) and confidentiality (privacy of information or resources). The new system is able to improve security in the network right away.


5.4 Recommendations

  1. Administrators should deploy simple configurations that work and are easy to maintain.
  2. In order to effect proper and efficient system configuration, emphasis should be laid on the removal/disabling of unnecessary services and applications.
  3. More ethical hackers – security professionals who apply their hacking skills for defensive purposes. People who fall within this category strive for excellence in programming and networking, understanding of system vulnerabilities as well as a mastery of different hacking techniques.
  4. Prompt patch releases from vendors as soon as vulnerabilities are detected and reported.
  5. A network administrator should routinely access vulnerability sites to keep updated with current trends in the security spheres.
  6. Victims of computer crimes should endeavour to report to law enforcement agencies for necessary (legal) actions.
  7. More laws such as the Cyber Security Enhancement Act of 2002 (in the US-statutes 1029 & 1030) should be enacted all around the world as a way of discouraging involvement by potential miscreants.
  8. Despite having the best firewall, intrusion detection systems, antivirus systems, one can still get hit with security breaches as a result of having disgruntled employees. Hence efforts should be made by employers to meet the average needs of their employees and where there is enough reason to fire an employee, it should be done properly.
  9. Implementation of good and efficient security policies and procedures. Trainings to sensitive employees should be routinely carried out and if possible, the employees should sign an agreement stating their resolve to implement the guidelines in the security policy. The guidelines should cover areas such as account setup, virus and worm control, modems, privacy issues, paper documents, violations, password change, help desk procedures, physical access restrictions, employee identification and so on.
  10. There should be thorough background check on employees because insiders with criminal background or tendency can pose severe security risks to an organizations network. Where necessary, such personnel should be relieved of their duties.
  11. Proper incidence response system in the case of successful security breach from intruders.
  12. Beware of activities and information shared on social networking sites such as facebook, myspace, twitter, orkut and so on.
  13. Antidotes to new virus releases should be promptly made available by stakeholder companies.
  14. Password changes should be made as soon as an employee’s appointment is terminated. This will prevent the kind of scenario highlighted in the introduction about the disgruntled ex-employee.
  15. Designing a deployment plan to distribute patch on a timely basis.
  16. Administrators should be knowledgeable in Computer forensic and incident handling.

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