Security 101: A 2018 Thesaurus for InfoSec
There is much emphasis being given to information security in today’s digitally connected ecosystem, and it truly is the need of the hour – below you can find answers to some of the most pertinent topics in information security.
Slava Ivanov, Distinguished Software Engineer at Echoworx with his years of progressive experience in delivering security solutions to solve business challenges, coupled with his strong knowledge of software development cycles is committed in developing a 2018 Thesaurus for information security.
Q: WHAT IS PCI COMPLIANCE?
A: PCI stands for the Payment Card Industry, and is often followed by the letters DSS, which stand for Data Security Standard. PCI compliant businesses must consistently adhere to the rules defined by the PCI Security Standards Council. Some of which are: Maintain an information security policy; Monitor and maintain a secure network; Implement strong access controls; Protect sensitive information. Customers, of such businesses, should feel safe and confident that their data will be protected.
Q: WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?
A: Identity theft is unwanted or unauthorized access to your personal information. Once someone gets hold of your personal details, they are able to commit all sorts of crimes using them, including telecommunications fraud, money laundering, cybercrimes, and more. Criminals use seemingly harmless pieces of information, like your date of birth, to gain access to other information about you, including your address, email, place of birth, insurance numbers, and passwords. Take care to protect your data by being aware of your privacy when sharing sensitive data.
Q: WHAT IS ADVANCED ENCRYPTION STANDARD (AES)?
A: The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a symmetric-key block cipher algorithm. AES is a subset of the Rijndael cipher developed by two Belgian cryptographers, Vincent Rijmen and Joan Daemen. AES is capable of handling 128-bit blocks, using keys sized at 128, 192, and 256 bits. Key size is unlimited, whereas the maximum block size is 256 bits. AES is more secure and enables faster encryption than its predecessors DES and 3DES. Overall AES has proven to be a reliable cipher over time.
Q: BLUETOOTH: CONVENIENCE WITH A PRICE?
A: We are using Bluetooth technology every day to connect our headphones, fitness trackers, car’s hands-free system, etc. It’s important to know about security issues associated with technology. Bluetooth sends data wirelessly where it can be intercepted by the wrong people. To protect your information, consider to set your devices to “undiscoverable” when not in use. Never accept pairing requests from unknown parties. Download and install regular security updates for your devices.
Q: IS THERE A MISTAKE IN THE WORD “PHISHING”?
A: Phishing scams mimic reputable entitles like banks, online resources, legitimate and authorized organizations in an attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details, etc. It’s called Phishing due to long-time hacker tradition to use “PH” instead of “F”. Be careful not to fall for the tricks set up by those Phishermen and prevent yourself from getting caught in the Phish net.
Q: WHAT IS DIFFIE-HELLMAN KEY EXCHANGE?
A: Diffie-Hellman (DH) is a key exchange protocol originally conceptualized by Ralph Merkle. It’s named after Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman – two cryptographers. DH allows to securely exchange cryptographic keys over a public channel without having anything shared beforehand. An established shared secret key can then be used to encrypt subsequent communications. DH exchange itself doesn’t provide authentication of the parties and could be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attack. Variants of DH with authentication should be considered.
Q: WHAT IS SSL HANDSHAKE?
A: SSL/TLS connection between a client and a server starts with a “handshake.” This includes a few steps – starting with validating the identity of the other party and concluding with the generation of a common Session key. First the server sends a Public key to the client to be used for encryption; The client generates a Symmetric key, encrypts it and sends it back; Then the server decrypts this Session key using its Private key. Now the server and the client are ready to use this Symmetric key to encrypt and decrypt transfer of data.
Q: IS FACE RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY FOR AUTHENTICATION ONLY?
A: Face recognition technology is already helping in many areas of our lives such as, airport security screening, friendly unsupervised video surveillance, investigation of crime scenes, etc. Lets explore how the technology can be used to personalize marketing approaches? It can, for example, replace a store loyalty card. When you walk into the store, the staff would know what you bought the last time, provide you with personal offers, and redeem your points. The store itself may tailor your offerings by analyzing facial data, such as gender, age, and ethnicity. The possibilities are endless.
Q: DOES TLS USE SYMMETRIC OR ASYMMETRIC ENCRYPTION?
A: Both. TLS uses asymmetric encryption algorithm only to establish a secure client-server session. For asymmetric encryption, the sender needs a Public key to encrypt data and the receiver needs a Private key to decrypt it. The bulk payload encryption requires speed, so a symmetric encryption algorithm is used to exchange information over an established secured session. For symmetric encryption both sender and receiver share a single Symmetric key to encrypt and decrypt data.
Q: “OK, GOOGLE” SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT MY PRIVACY?
A: Voice enabled assistants, like Google Home, Amazon Echo, etc., can answer your question, provide a weather report, turn up the thermostat, control the lights, or even order a pizza. This convenience comes with a price. Assistant is always listening. Consider using the “mic mute” button to turn it off when not needed. Anyone can control your device. Consider not connecting some IoT appliances like smart door locks; disable payment options not being used. Enjoy your digital home assistant, but don’t make it the host.
Q: WHAT IS OBFUSCATION?
A: The purpose of obfuscation is to prevent someone from understanding the meaning of something. In software development, it’s often used on the computer code to make tampering, reverse engineering, or theft of a product’s functionality more difficult. It’s important to understand that obfuscation is not like encryption, but rather like encoding. It can be reversed by using the same technique or simply as a manual process that just takes time.
Q: WHAT ARE THE FACTORS OF AUTHENTICATION?
A: There are three main categories of Authentication:
- Knowledge is something you know, for example simple user name and password;
- Possession is something you have, it may be your access card or keyfob;
- Inherence is something you are, your biometric characteristic, like fingerprint.
Sometimes, your location is considered a 4thfactor.Multifactor Authentication significantly increases security but will obviously impact user experience.
Q: WHAT IS DATA ENCODING?
A: In computer technology, encoding transforms original data into another format so it can be transferred and consumed by different systems. For example, use binary-to-text Base64 encoding for binary files to send it over email. Encoding uses publicly available algorithms and can be easily reversed (decoded). The main purpose of encoding is not to keep information secret, but to ensure it’s safely and properly consumed.
Q: IS BIOMETRICS THE ULTIMATE AUTHENTICATION SOLUTION?
A: Biometrics is the technical term for metrics related to human characteristics, like your fingerprint, voice, eye iris, etc. Many consumer products have adopted biometrics for authentication as a matter of user convenience, while enterprise grade products are opting-out to ensure maximum information security. The main authenticationfactor is knowledge, such as a password or PIN. Biometric data was never designed to be the secret. Can you imagine yourself wearing gloves all the time?
Q: IS FACE ID MORE SECURE THAN TOUCH ID?
A: Apple claims there is a 1 in a million chance someone can unlock your device using Face ID compared to 1 in 50000 chances of someone having the same fingerprint as you. Does this mean the security of Face ID is 20 times higher? The important thing to remember is that Face ID and Touch ID are more about convenience and design than security. Your password (PIN) will always remain the biggest point of weakness on your device. So, it’s best to make it a strong one.
Q: WHAT THE “HEX”?
A: Hexadecimal numbers (hex or base-16) are widely used in computing and math as representation of binary values. Each hexadecimal digit represents four bits or half a byte. 16 unique symbols 0-9 and A-F used to represent a value.
This purple color has HTML hex number #7334A4
#73(hex) is (7×16) + (3×1) = 115 (decimal) of red
#34(hex) is (3×16) + (4×1) = 52 (decimal) of green
#A4(hex) is (10×16) + (4×1) = 164 (decimal) of blue
In RGB space our color will be rgb (115, 52, 164)
This is a very condensed version of the many security terms and acronyms in use today, but we hope it helps. Don’t stop now. Learn how you can use encryption to build trusted communications with white papers, reports, webinars, and videos.