Q 2.1 - System Access Threats

Give your understanding of system access threats and any one countermeasure you would take in counteracting their impact on systems today.

System access threats are the possible dangers systems face in the performing tasks as may be internal to the system or external from user requests.  These potential dangers are meant to deny both system and user the optimum functionality needed to accomplish problem solving by the computer.  Countermeasures for counteracting the impact of systems access threats today will largely depend on the the kind of threat that the system is being protected against.

There are two broad categories of system access threats namely Intruders and Malicious software.

Intruders are a those individuals who, like the word depicts, find entrance to the system, usually with some amount of force which in computers may be via deceptive means.  They are classified into Masquerader, Misfeasor and Clandestine user categories.  Masquerader are individuals who are not authorized to use the computer and who penetrates a system’s access controls to exploit a legitimate user’s account.  Misfeasor may be a legitimate user who accesses data, programs, or resources for which such access is not authorized, or who is authorized for such access but misuses his or her privileges.  Clandestine user as the name suggest are those individuals who seizes supervisory control of the system and uses this control to evade auditing and access controls or to suppress audit collection

Malicious software are presented by programs that exploit vulnerabilities in computing systems.  Commonly known as malware, this kind of threat is any software that brings harm to a computer system, in the form of worms, viruses, trojans, spyware, adware and rootkits, etc., which steal protected data, delete documents or add software not approved by a user.

Since access threats have to do with gaining entry into a system to cause the intended, harm, countermeasures should first to prevent unauthorized entry and then prevent activities that are malicious.  Preventing unauthorized entry will be to have users identified and authenticated before using a system.  Intrusion detection systems can be employed.  Firewalls also serve as  a good prevention measure for intrusion.  Further, to stop malicious activity antivirus could be used.

With current trends today of people using so much sophisticated access gaining mechanisms into systems, it is important to develop a security program that will take in to consideration the changing nature of threats.  For example biometric access requirements and contemporarily robust programming techniques for software development should be used.