When I discuss network security with small businesses I always hear the same refrain, “We don’t have anything worth stealing, so why should we care about information security?” Sometimes I think I audibly groan when they are halfway through that sentence. We are so secure in the idea that our mundane work is of no significance that we often overlook the value that is literally right in front of our faces.
It’s not you; it’s your computer and your bandwidth that intruders are after. If they can also dig up some juicy info that someone else might pay for, well that’s just icing on the cake.
Let’s take a small 5 computer workgroup office setup for an example. This might be a boring network for those going about their day to day tasks, but it’s a playground for the mischievous. This is a perfect network for a hacker to use as a botnet node (computers in a botnet, called nodes or zombies, are often ordinary computers sitting on desktops in homes and offices around the world) to launch attacks on larger more protected networks. A botnet is a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners’ knowledge, in order to send spam messages. It could also be used for nothing more than just to force that user that beat you on an online game off the internet for a week using a DDOS (distributed denial-of-service) attack which occurs when multiple systems flood the bandwidth or resources of a targeted system, usually one or more web servers. Perhaps they’re more ambitious and decide to use your network to serve out a hidden website on TOR (free software for enabling anonymous communication) in order to sell drugs or other black market goods and services. Maybe they just need a place to stash an illicit trove of child porn; your network will do just fine. Besides when the cops catch on they will kick down your door, not theirs.
On the internet, size doesn’t matter, but security does. To those intruders that wish to use your network for their purposes it just matters that you are there.
Lane Monk, Systems Engineer