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Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Frontier Foundation

What is the Electronic Frontier Foundation?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an international non-profit organization based out of the United States. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is classified as a digital rights advocacy group and is responsible for engaging in and supporting various educational activities which aim to promote the understanding of the various challenges and opportunities posed by advancements in computer technologies and the telecommunications industry.  
The Electronic Frontier Foundation aims to develop a better understanding of the problems or issues latent in the open and free telecommunications market. The organization, through policy-makers, supports the creation of an organized and legal approach to ultimately ease the assimilation of a new technological development into society.


Goals of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, through their organizational efforts, attempts to raise public awareness concerning issues revolving around civil liberties and the ambiguity that invariably arises from the rapid advancement in new computer-based communications media. 
In addition to raising public awareness, the Electronic Frontier Foundation openly supports litigation in the public interest to protect, preserve and extend the rights latent in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution within the direct realm of telecommunications technology and computing.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation encourages and openly supports the development of new tools or resources which ultimately endow non-technical users with easy access to computer-based technologies and new forms of telecommunications. 
The Electronic Frontier Foundation uses its resources in a number of ways. The organization provides funding for legal defense, in which it defends individuals and new forms of technology from what the organization considers misleading or baseless legal threats. In addition, the organization aims to expose government malfeasance, while providing public entities guidance in regards to forms of technology.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation supports new technologies which it believes to promote personal freedoms. By the same function, the organization challenges legislation that it believes would impede or infringe on personal liberties and fair use. The organization solicits a publication of what it considers patent abuse with intentions to defeat those platforms that it considers without merit.
Who Supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is supported by public and private donations. The organization is accredited observers at the World Intellectual Property Organization and one of the principal partners of the Global Network Initiative. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is based out of San Francisco, California and possesses offices in Washington, D.C. 
The Electronic Frontier Foundation receives the bulk of its support from its board members. John Buckman is the current Chairman of the organization, and Pamela Samuelson, John Barlow, David Farber, Lorrie Cranor, Edward Felten, John Gilmore, Brad Tempelton, and Joe Kraus are all Acting Vice Chairmen. In addition to support from its leaders, the organization receives considerable funding from the private sector. 

Quick Overview of Spyware

Quick Overview of Spyware

What is Spyware?
Spyware is a common form of malicious software that is installed on computers or networks. When installed, spyware will collect small tidbits of information concerning the user’s personal preferences. Spyware accomplishes this intrusive objective without obtaining the informed consent of the user. 
Spyware is typically difficult to detect because the form of malware is clandestinely installed on the individual’s computer. Although the basic function of Spyware is to monitor the preferences and characteristics of the user, this form of malware can initiate more harmful and intrusive functions. 
In general, a spyware program will collect various types of personal information, such as the “surfing” habits of the individual accessing the internet and what the individual does on the particular sites visited. That being said, spyware can also interfere with the user’s control of the computer. 
When installed, a spyware program can implement additional software to effectively inhibit or redirect the individual when accessing the Internet. When delivering this disruptive function, a spyware program will alter the individual’s computer settings, which will ultimately result in damaged performance or limited access. 


Differences between Spyware and Worms 
Spyware is held separately from other forms of malicious software, such as worms, because spyware does not self-replicate. Spyware only exploits infected computers for a sense of commercial gain. It does not replicate itself to infect multiple networks or computer systems. As a result of this basic function, the typical tactics of spyware include the mass delivery of unsolicited pop-up advertisements, the obtainment and subsequent use of personal information (including all financial information), the monitoring of web activity for marketing purposes, and routing requests to advertising mediums. 
A spyware program will not directly spread throughout multiple computers as a worm or virus would. In most instances, an infected system will not attempt to transmit the spyware to other hosts. Due to its inability to self-replicate, a spyware program will enter a system through deception or by exploiting a particular program’s vulnerability. 
The majority of spyware programs are installed without the user’s knowledge. A spyware device will “piggyback” on a piece of legitimate software or by tricking the user to download the bug. 


Effects of Spyware
When a computer is infected with spyware, the user will notice a degradation of system performance as well as the presence of unwanted solicitations. In addition to halting the computer’s performance, a spyware infection can create unwanted computer activity, disk usage and network traffic. 


Legal Issues attached to Spyware 
Spyware programs track an individual’s activity online. As a result of this characteristic, these programs can compromise the user’s personal, as well as financial, information. All unauthorized access to a computer or network is deemed illegal under computer crime laws in the United States. That being said, very few developers of spyware programs have been prosecuted. Many spyware developers actually operate as legitimate businesses. 
The developers of spyware and those organizations which produce the software generally argue that the programs do in fact give consent to installations. The majority of spyware programs come bundled with legitimate applications. The presence of spyware is typically described in the product’s end-user license agreement. As a result, the programmers or developers of these programs claim that in most instances spyware is installed to track a consumer’s shopping habits or personal interests.

Understanding Cyber Warfare

Understanding Cyber Warfare

What is Cyber Warfare?
Cyber warfare is a relatively new term, which was essentially invented by government security expert Richard Clarke to encompass “any action by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption.” 
Due to the overwhelming prevalence and reliance on computerized networks, this term has been classified as a new form of war or malicious intent. The majority of developed nations initiate their basic governmental functions through a technological medium. As a result of this dependence on technology, these entities are susceptible to cyber terrorists, or individuals who possess the ability to hack a government’s database or computer network to ultimately disrupt and damage the system’s basic functions.  


The Threat of Cyber Warfare 


Cyber warfare is often regarded as the “fifth domain of warfare” and has been formally recognized by the Pentagon as a new threat and domain in warfare. The digital infrastructure of developed nations, such as the United States of America, is, in essence, a fundamental national asset. If infringed or hacked into, the nation’s framework, such as its energy grid, water supply, or stock market, would fall victim to irreparable damage.  
Just recently, numerous Government officials and top lawmakers have warned the United States Government that “the threat of a crippling attack on the telecommunications and computer networks was sharply on the rise.” Based on the reports of top-security advisors, key sectors of the United States’ economy are at risk of cyber infringement. 
These sectors include: various public and private facilities, the banking and finance industry, the transportation industry, manufacturing, education, government, and the medical field. Each of these various industries or fields relies heavily on the use of computers to carry-out their day-to-day operations. 


Forms of Cyber Warfare
As a result of our reliance on computer-based technologies, cyber warfare can be initiated through nearly any medium. Cyber espionage, for example, is the act of obtaining Government or organizational secrets that are otherwise deemed as sensitive or classified information. If information is not secured, it can be intercepted by skilled hackers or individuals within a cyber warfare organization.  
The majority of developed militaries use satellites and computers for coordination and surveillance. If these systems are hacked into, orders and communications can be intercepted and subsequently replaced. In addition, supplies such as power, water, fuel, the transportation infrastructure, and various communication efforts can be vulnerable to disruption.
The United States power grid is also susceptible to being hacked into. As a result of this weakness, the United States Department of Homeland Security works with industry and energy professionals to pinpoint weak spots and to help enhance the security of the system’s networks. If hacked into and disrupted through the installation of a virus or malicious program, the failing power grid could spawn massive power outages throughout the nation. This cataclysmic event would disrupt the economy, distract the defense system and create a national state of emergency. 

5 Ways to Perform Denial of Service Attack

5 Ways to Perform Denial of Service Attack

What is a Denial-of-service Attack?
Also known as a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS), a denial-of-service attack is an attempt to impede a computer’s intended users from accessing resources latent in the system. 
A DDOS is a form of computer virus that severely disrupts the processing speed of the computer’s network. 
In most instances, a denial-of-service attack is issued by an individual or organization to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning. As a result of this somewhat broad function, a denial-of-service attack, the means to carry out, the motives to initiate, and the targets of a DDOS will greatly vary based on a case-by-case circumstance.
Perpetrators of a denial-of-service attack will typically target sites or computer services which are hosted on high-profile web networks, such as credit card payment portals, banking sites and root name servers.
A DDOS is considered to be a grave violation of the IAB’s Internet proper use policy. In addition, denial-of-service attacks violate the acceptable use policies aligned with the majority of Internet service providers. 
A DDOS is also regarded as illegal in the majority of nations. The legality issues revolving around denial-of-service attacks will fluctuate based on the individual laws of a particular nation. 

Methods of Attack
The most common method of a DDOS involves saturating the targeted network with external communication requests so that it cannot respond effectively to legitimate traffic or users. In general terms, denial-of-service attacks are implemented by forcing a targeted computer to shut down or by consuming the target’s resources so that it is unable to provide it basic service. In essence, denial-of-service attacks obstruct the communication media between the intended user and the targeted user so that they can no longer access the Internet or effectively communicate. 
A DDOS is performed in five basic ways:
1)    Denial-of-service attacks can be delivered through the consumption of the targeted computer’s resources, such as the system’s disk space, its processor, or bandwith.
2)    A DDOS can be implemented by disrupting the configuration information (such as the routing information).
3)    Denial-of-service attacks can disrupt the physical network components of the targeted computer.
4)    A DDOS can be delivered by obstructing the communication media between the intended users and the targeted victim so that they can longer communicate.
5)    Denial-of-service attacks can be implemented through the disruption of state information, such as resetting TCP sessions.
In addition to these basic methods, denial-of-service attacks may be incorporated with malware to max out the targeted processor’s usage or to trigger errors in the microcode of the terminal. 


Symptoms of a DDOS attack
When a computer or network falls victim to a DDOS attack it will typically possess the following symptoms:
Uncharacteristically slow network performance. Opening files or accessing web sites is extremely delayed;
Inability to access websites or particular websites;
Dramatic increase in the number of solicitation or spam emails received. This form of DDOS is typically classified or known as an e-mail bomb DDOS.

Malware At A Glance

Malware At A Glance

What is Malware?


Malware is short for malicious software. The term refers to any software that is designed to damage or secretly access a computer system without receiving the informed consent of the owner or user of the system. 
Malware includes various computer viruses that when installed into a system will infect the overall performance of the computer or will tamper with the information stored on the system. Malware includes various computer viruses, Trojan horses, worms, dishonest adware, scareware, the majority of rootkits, and spyware. 
When a system is infected with malware, the computer or network is susceptible to being compromised. Malware acts as a fundamental vehicle or medium to initiate a cybercrime. 
When a computer is infected, the personal or financial information stored on the system becomes observable by a hacker or the individual who infected the targeted computer. Malware is not regarded as defective software, which is a program or application that possesses a legitimate purpose but contains defects or harmful bugs.  
In many cases, malicious software will be disguised as a legitimate application and may even come from a secured or official site. Malware was initially regarded as a computer prank. The first forms of malicious software were created as a benign form to inhibit a computer’s capabilities. Through the prevalence of cybercrimes, however, the malware industry has evolved into something of a malignant agent that harnesses the potential to solicit grave crimes, such as identity theft, fraud, or cyber stalking.  
Types of Malware 


The most common forms of malware are viruses and worms. These forms of malware are classified based on their inherent ability to spread and infect multiple systems, as opposed to burrowing in one computer and carrying out a particular function. A computer virus is a term used for a dysfunctional program that has infected executable software. When run or enacted, the virus spreads to other executable codes or software. A worm, in contrast, is a program that will actively transmit itself over a platform or network to infect other computers. 
A Trojan horse is a form of damaging software, which at first appears to perform a legitimate or desirable function. A Trojan horse is an insidious computer program. Once installed the Trojan horse will perform its expected function but will do so while gradually damaging the system or stealing information from the database. 
A Trojan horse may permit a hacker to access a computer system from a remote location. Once a Trojan horse has been installed on a network or personal computer, a hacker may access the information stored on the system remotely while performing various operations that are limited based on the design of the Trojan horse and the user’s implemented privileges.
Rootkits, which is another form of malware, is a malicious program that, when installed one a system, will stay concealed to avoid detection and subsequent disinfection. Rootkits remain undetectable through modifying the host’s operating system.
A backdoor is another form of malware, which intends to bypass customary authentication procedures. When a system has been compromised through one of the aforementioned forms of malware, one or numerous backdoors may be installed to facilitate a hacker’s future access. 

The Importance of Adware

The Importance of Adware

What is Adware?
Advertising-supported software, or Adware, refers to any software application or package that automatically displays, plays, or downloads advertisements onto a personal computer. The advertisements spawned by an Adware program are typically supplied in the form of an unsolicited pop-up. As a result of this medium, Adware programs are regarded as a nuisance and often disrupt a computer’s ability to carry out its basic functions in an efficient or rapid fashion. 
In a solitary fashion, Adware is regarded as benign. However, numerous versions of Adware are integrated with various forms of spyware or other malicious software that can ultimately compromise the personal information stored on an individual’s computer. 
In addition to spyware, numerous forms of adware are coupled with key loggers, which are programs used to track an individual’s browsing preferences. When these malignant programs are integrated with a generic Adware application, the malware can effectively compromise an individual’s personal information and generate other privacy-invasive maneuvers. 


Why is Adware Applied to a Computer? 
Adware is commonly integrated into legitimate software bundles or applications to track what Internet sites a user commonly visits. When the application takes note of the user’s preferences, the adware application will present the individual with advertising that is aligned with their browsing history or preferences. 
Adware is used as an advertising resource. Unlike spyware applications, which monitor a user’s Internet habits and preferences in a comprehensive fashion, adware will simply track the sites visited and align the perceived user’s interests with pertinent products. For example, if the application observes that the user is habitually visiting sports sites, the adware application will deliver pop-ups that are aligned with the sporting industry, such as advertisements for ticket brokers or athletic apparel.   
Adware is viewed as an effective marketing tool. The program is viewed by the particular developer as a means to recover development costs. The income derived from presenting the user with advertisements may motivate or enable the developer of the program to maintain and upgrade their products. In a converse light, however, the pop-ups or advertisements generated by an adware program may be viewed as an annoyance or a distraction as a result of inherent interruptive nature.  
Some adware programs are also bundled with or similar to shareware applications. The primary difference between these two applications is that adware is always supported by advertisements. Users may also be given the opportunity to pay for a “registered” or “licensed” copy to terminate the presence of advertisements.  


Preventing and Detecting Adware 
There are numerous programs that are available for purchase or download that will effectively detect quarantine and subsequently remove all forms of spyware and malware, including adware applications. In addition, the majority of commercial anti-virus software will effectively detect adware applications. These programs, which are comprehensive and purchased in stores, can separate spyware and adware applications from one another.