Threats to Online Security – Part 2

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In part II of the kinds of cyber threats users need to protect themselves against, Rayyan discusses four more commonly used attacks by hackers. The only way to protect ourselves is to enable a good Antivirus and be weary of where we put in our credit card details, our passwords and other personal details. Yes, the internet is convenient, but we must be armed with the right information before making an online decision.

Eavesdropping is the act of surreptitiously listening to a private conversation, typically between hosts on a network. For instance, programs such as Carnivore and NarusInSight have been used by the CBI and NIA to eavesdrop on the systems of internet service providers. Even machines that operate as a closed system (i.e., with no contact to the outside world) can be eavesdropped upon via monitoring the faint electro-magnetic transmissions generated by the hardware.

Tampering describes a malicious modification of products. So-called “Evil Maid” attacks and security services planting of surveillance capability into routers are examples.


Denial of service attacks (DoS) are designed to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Attackers can deny service to individual victims, such as by deliberately entering a wrong password enough consecutive times to cause the victims account to be locked, or they may overload the capabilities of a machine or network and block all users at once. While a network attack from a single IP address can be blocked by adding a new firewall rule, many forms of Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are possible, where the attack comes from a large number of points – and defending is much more difficult. Such attacks can originate from the zombie computers of a botnet, but a range of other techniques are possible including reflection and amplification attacks, where innocent systems are fooled into sending traffic to the victim.


Click jacking, also known as “UI redress attack” or “User Interface redress attack”, is a malicious technique in which an attacker tricks a user into clicking on a button or link on another webpage while the user intended to click on the top level page. This is done using multiple transparent or opaque layers. The attacker is basically “hijacking” the clicks meant for the top level page and routing them to some other irrelevant page, most likely owned by someone else. A similar technique can be used to hijack keystrokes. Carefully drafting a combination of stylesheets, iframes, buttons and text boxes, a user can be led into believing that they are typing the password or other information on some authentic webpage while it is being channeled into an invisible frame controlled by the attacker.

Social engineering aims to convince a user to disclose secrets such as passwords, card numbers, etc. by, for example, impersonating a bank, a contractor, or a customer. This is common in India because most of the bank users are not much literate and sometimes even literate easily comes under this attack. Recent episode of Crime Patrol showed an IAS officer in Delhi become a victim of social engineering.

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