With fast broadband connections and smart phones, there has been a rapid growth in number of internet users. According to United Nations estimates by 2016, there are expected to be 3.4 billion internet users, which is about 45 percent of the world’s projected population. Although people tend to refer to the “Internet” as one global entity, there are in fact three clearly defined subsets of this global network:

  1. In the center is the in-house corporate “Intranet”, primarily for the benefit of the people within the organization.
  2. The Intranet is surrounded by the “Extranet”, exterior to the organization yet restricted to access by business partners, customers and preferred suppliers
  3. Third, and this is optional, there can be a “Community” layer around the Extranet. This space is shared with a particular community who has a common interest.

Finally, these three layers are surrounded by the global Internet as we know it, which is shared by prospective clients and the rest of the world. But while a whole era or knowledge transfer and automation has taken place, we have unknowingly opened the door to pirates and hackers. Therefore, as the use of the Internet, Intranets and Extranets has grown, so has the need for security. The TCP/IP protocols and network technologies are inherently designed to be open in order to allow interoperability. Therefore, unless proper precautions are taken, data can readily be intercepted and altered and often the sender or receiver may not be aware of the security breach. So as an individual or corporate user of the network, you must be familiar with the threats that endanger network security and be aware of the methods for preventing data from falling into wrong hands or your computer getting hacked.
To give you an idea of the magnitude of the threat experienced by Intranets and Extranets here is the list of probable security breaches:

  • Unauthorized access by contractors or visitors to a company’s computer system
  • Access by authorized users to unauthorized databases. For example, a technician might break into the Financial and accounts database and obtain confidential information.
  • Confidential information may be intercepted while being sent to an authorized user. A hacker might attach a network-sniffing device to the network, or use sniffing software on his computer. While sniffers are normally used for network diagnostics, they can also be used to intercept data coming over the network medium.
  • Users may share documents between geographically separated offices over the Internet or Extranet, telecommuters may access the corporate Intranet from their home and expose sensitive data during transmission.
  • Electronic mail can be intercepted in transit, or hackers can break into the mail server.

Here are some of the ways by which you can control and secure access to your network:

  • Authentication
  • Routers
  • Firewalls
  • Intrusion Detection Systems
  • Encryption
  • Installing reputed, licensed, anti- virus software

Apart from the above, while using your personal emails make sure that you do not open emails from unknown senders. Also don’t be tricked into downloading malicious software or sharing confidential, personal information and bank details.