The subject of cyber security is one that few understand. Cyber security, according to Wikpedia, refers to "the protection of information systems from theft or damage to the hardware, the software, and to the information on them, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide." Cyber security is one of the fastest growing concepts in our modern day world. With the explosion of the Internet and computers over the past few decades, keeping valuable information safe and systems working as expected is a very important job.
Many of our current infrastructure systems rely heavily on computer systems. Things like city traffic control and the social security system are grounded in computer technology and record keeping. Sensitive information is often stored on these devices, and stolen or leaked information from these systems can be devasting. If our military systems had a data breach, the identities of MILLIONS of our countries servicemen and woman could be stolen in minutes. Not just their idenities, but also military strategy plans, secret project plans, foreign relation documents, anything sensitive and confidential to the public; you name it.
Protecting valuable information and preventing infiltration into sensitive systems is not an easy task. Everyday, hackers, computer scientists, mathematicians, and many more are working to break these computer systems. Some for good, some for bad. Many large organizations like Facebook and the United States Pentagon employ and encourage hackers to attempt to gain access to their systems (in controlled environments, of course), some even earning cash for exploiting these vulnerabilties.
Others aren't intending to make some extra money. Some hope to gain valuable information that can be sold in the "backpages" of the Internet, or leak sensitive documents that can cause a stir in the news. Many upcoming 'hackers' do it to simply see if they are capable of, and these types of hacks often go undiscovered.
Cyber security goes beyond our military, government, and large businesses. Cyber security is active in your home, right now. That blue box hooked up to the wall in the closet with some blinking lights? Yep, that is your portal to the Internet. Firewalls and filters on these routers and modems keep unauthorized traffic from entering your network and gaining access to your devices and files, while at the same time allowing you to view content outside of your local network. Your local Starbucks wifi most likely implments the same structure, maybe a few extra precautions. The premise is the same across many systems, which allows criminals to develop home-grown software and hardware to reach into these networks and overstep the barriers.
Luckily, you don't have much to be worried about. Your network is most likely fine, and the government isn't watching you read this through your phone's camera. You're not that interesting to them. However, you probabaly are giving out more information than you realize just by accessing this website. As the host of this webpage, I implemented a small function I found online that takes your IP address, an address that is unique to you just like your physical home address, and checks up on what can be determined based on that IP address. Check out the table below to see what your IP says about you.
|Your (External) IP|
|Your Zip Code|