Category Archives: Security

aka infosec

What is cryptography?

(Ed: before cryptocurrency showed up, the abbreviation ‘crypto’ usually referred to cryptography. Now it’s almost always used to refer to cryptocurrency.)

Cryptography is the practice of securing information by transforming it into a form that is unintelligible to anyone who does not have the proper key or password to decode it. It involves techniques for encrypting and decrypting data to protect it from unauthorized access or modification.

Cryptography has been used throughout history to protect sensitive information such as military secrets, diplomatic messages, and financial transactions. It is now widely used in computer networks to ensure the security of data transmitted over the Internet, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and other confidential information.

Modern cryptography relies on algorithms and protocols that are designed to be mathematically secure and resistant to attacks by hackers or other malicious actors. Common cryptographic techniques include symmetric-key encryption, public-key encryption, digital signatures, and hash functions.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a technology that creates a secure and encrypted connection between two points on the internet. This connection is established by using VPN client software on a device that connects to a VPN server, typically located in a different geographic location.

When a user connects to a VPN server, the user’s device becomes part of the private network established by the VPN server. This allows the user to access the internet as if they were physically located in the same location as the VPN server.

The primary benefit of using a VPN is that it provides a secure and private connection, which is especially important when accessing sensitive information, such as financial data or personal information, over public Wi-Fi networks or when accessing geo-restricted content. It also helps to protect against hackers, identity theft, and other online threats by masking the user’s IP address and encrypting their internet traffic.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is authorization?

Authorization is the process of determining whether an entity or user is allowed to access a particular resource or perform a specific action within a system or application. In other words, it’s the process of verifying that a user has the necessary permissions to access a particular resource or perform a particular action.

Authorization typically involves checking the identity of the user, as well as their access credentials and permissions, against a set of access control rules. These rules may be defined within the application or system itself, or they may be defined in an external authorization server or policy engine.

Authorization is an important part of security in computer systems and is often used in conjunction with authentication, which is the process of verifying the identity of a user. Together, authentication and authorization ensure that only authorized users are able to access sensitive information and perform critical actions within a system.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is authentication?

Authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user or system attempting to access a particular resource, service, or application. It is the first line of defense against unauthorized access to information and resources.

Authentication typically involves presenting credentials, such as a username and password, to a system, which then verifies that the credentials match an authorized user or system. Other authentication methods can include biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, or the use of security tokens or smart cards.

Once a user or system has been successfully authenticated, they are granted access to the resource or service they are trying to access. Authentication is a critical component of security in any system, as it ensures that only authorized users are able to access sensitive information and resources.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is spyware?

Spyware is a type of malicious software designed to gather sensitive information from a computer system without the user’s knowledge or consent. This information can include personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and online browsing habits, as well as system information such as installed software and hardware specifications. Spyware can be installed on a computer through a variety of means, such as email attachments, infected websites, and bundled software. Some spyware is designed to monitor a user’s activities for advertising purposes, while others are used for more malicious purposes such as identity theft and financial fraud. Spyware can cause a number of problems for a computer user, including decreased system performance, slow internet speeds, and a loss of privacy. It is important to protect your computer from spyware by using anti-virus software and avoiding downloading suspicious files from the internet.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is a vulnerability?

A vulnerability is a weakness or gap in a system’s security that can be exploited by an attacker to gain unauthorized access or perform malicious actions. It can refer to a flaw in software, hardware, or a combination of both, that can be exploited to compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of a system or its data. Vulnerabilities can be discovered through various means such as penetration testing, code reviews, or by being reported by external parties.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is a computer trojan?

A Trojan, or Trojan horse, is a type of malware that is disguised as legitimate software. It is called a Trojan because it typically presents itself as something harmless, like a game or utility program, but once executed, it can perform malicious actions on the infected computer. These actions can include stealing sensitive information, downloading and installing other malware, or allowing unauthorized remote access to the computer. Trojans are often distributed through email attachments, instant messaging, and social media, and they can be very difficult to detect and remove.

(Editor’s note: I’m going to keep posting these definitions as long as ChatGPT is able to generate accurate and useful text. I have no plans to allow ChatGPT to take over all of my writing duties.)

What is malware?

Malware, short for malicious software, is any software designed to harm or exploit a computer system. There are many different types of malware, including viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, adware, and spyware. Malware can be spread through email attachments, malicious links, infected websites, and other means. It can be used to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials and financial data, disrupt or damage computer systems, and perform other malicious activities. Protecting against malware involves keeping your operating system and antivirus software up to date, being cautious about the emails and links that you open, and avoiding downloading software from untrusted sources.

(Editor’s note: this post was written by ChatGPT, and its veracity checked by me, the human person who runs this site.)

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. When the ransomware is installed on a device, it encrypts the files on the device and displays a message that demands payment in exchange for the decryption key that is needed to unlock the files. Ransomware attacks can be particularly damaging to individuals and businesses because they can disrupt access to important data and systems, and they can be costly to remedy. It is important to protect your devices and systems from ransomware by keeping your software and antivirus programs up to date and being careful about the emails and links that you open.

(Editor’s note: in case you hadn’t noticed, this is another guest post from ChatGPT. I’m going to keep posting these, but they will always be clearly labeled as ChatGPT’s work. You can play around with the chatbot yourself, but you’ll need to create an OpenAI account first.)

What is phishing?

Phishing is a type of cyber attack that involves the use of fraudulent emails or websites that appear to be legitimate in order to trick people into revealing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and account login details. These attacks often use social engineering techniques to manipulate people into taking action, such as clicking on a malicious link or opening an attachment. Phishing attacks can be difficult to identify because they are designed to look legitimate and can be highly targeted, making them a common and effective method used by cybercriminals to steal sensitive information.

(Editor’s note: This is a guest post by ChatGPT, a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. I asked it the question “What is phishing?”, and it generated the text above. I verified the response as accurate.)

Also see Phishing – What is it? on the Opera web site. Ars Technica has a post about a particularly nasty phishing web site.