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The hottest topics in science in a format to fit your lifestyle — from the Editors of Scientific American.
Cyber Hacking: Wars in Virtual Space

Cyber Hacking: Wars in Virtual Space

By The Editors

Cyberspace has certainly transformed the world. From media and communications to banking, an increasing number of daily activities is performed online. We are living digital lifestyles. While this transformation has opened up exciting new frontiers, it also opens the door to security threats undreamed of in previous generations. In this eBook, we peer behind the cyber curtain. First, we look at the hackers—Section 1 discusses who they are, how they work, their motivations and methods. The opening article examines hardware—specifically microprocessors and why they are vulnerable to tampering. Then we turn to the internal attacks, the worms and viruses whose resulting damage ranges from merely inconvenient and attention-getting to expensive and dangerous. In the latter category falls the Stuxnet virus, which attacked Iran's nuclear facilities and is discussed in "Hacking the Lights Out." Section 2 takes a broad look at issues of privacy and the technology used to gather and track personal information. The first article, “The End of Privacy?”, analyzes how the definition of privacy has changed, often along generational lines, in the cyber age. With so much personal information volunteered on social networking and other sites, how much privacy can people expect? Most of us leave a trail of data wherever we go, and subsequent articles in this section look at how. On a positive note, Section 3 covers innovative technologies used to secure cyber networks and safeguard information. In particular, “Beyond Fingerprinting” discusses replacing identifiers like user names and passwords with biometrics—behavioral or anatomical markers including but not limited to fingerprints. This, like other technology, is becoming more widespread as inexpensive sensors and microprocessors become available, and the race between the hackers and information security professionals continues.

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