Archive for July, 2012

Solid State Drives vs. Hard Disk Drives

July 17th, 2012 No comments

You have probably heard people talk about solid state drives as being the way of the future, but what exactly is a solid-state drive?

First of all, let’s differentiate between what we mean by solid state compared to regular hard disk drives. If you take the case off a hard disk drive (WHICH YOU SHOULD NEVER DO!), it looks kind of like the arm of a record player reading a CD. The disk you see is the top stack of disks that contain all the data of your hard drive. Your family photos, work documents, music, all just little bits of information on these disks. For this information to be displayed on your computer, a little needle on the end of the arm must read the information off the spinning disks and then communicate it with your computer so it can be displayed or listened to or whatever the case may be. Hard disk drives have been the most dominant device for memory storage since their introduction. While most of the world’s data is still on hard disk drives, the complicated interaction between the actuator arm and disks can create speed and reliability problems that can be solved with new technology.

This new technology is currently being dominated by solid-state drives. So what does solid state mean? Remember how we said hard disk drives have an arm like a record player that reads data off spinning disks? Well solid-state drives have taken these moving parts out of the picture. They use the same type of block input/output system as traditional hard disk drives, but their lack of moving components makes them much less susceptible physical shock or lost data. They are also silent and have significantly lower access time and latency. The main holdup keeping solid-state drives being in everyone’s computers is they are currently significantly more expensive than hard-disk drives, and typically have less capacity. However, technology advances on solid-state drives is continuing to rapidly approach reasonable consumer costs and capacities which will allow solid-state drives to likely become the standard data storage method for personal computers over the next few years.


Retrieving Digital Information

July 17th, 2012 No comments

We are in the age where most of the world’s information is in digital form, all encoded as little 1’s and 0’s firing in circuit boards. So how much of this information ever makes it out of the digital world into our physical one? According to a recent study by UC Berkeley scientists, only about 7% of information in the digital world ever leaves. This means most of the world’s information exists solely in the digital realm.

Many people out there might like for this information to stay digital. Those who commit cyber-crimes use a number of methods to cover their traces, such as giving important files obscure names and moving them to a hard to find location. While this seems like an easy solution for digital investigators, time and legal restraints can make finding and extracting these files challenging.

A cyber criminal can simply change a file name or location or delete files. Deleted files can often be retrieved from the Recycle Bin, or if the Recycle Bin has been cleared, using other investigative methods. Even formatted drives can be recovered depending on the thoroughness with which the drive was formatted. It is important for investigators to pay attention to hidden and inaccessible files as these commonly contain useful evidence. When very determined, a criminal can physically destroy a drive, which if done successfully there can be no recourse for.

The digital realm is a vast one with lots of nooks and crannies for information to hide in, but computer security experts are tenacious and will always be trying to keep up with protection methods.


Who needs a honeypot?

July 16th, 2012 No comments

What in the world is a honeypot you ask?! To put it simply, a honeypot is like bait you set out to lure computer hackers and scammers into exposing themselves. This allows you to trace the origin of the hacker and identify him or her to prevent future attacks.

Of course, this also gives the security risk of exposing yourself to the hackers. Putting a honeypot out there is almost a call for attention from individuals looking to exploit others and take advantage of insecure setups. Naturally this isn’t a situation everyone is comfortable in, so honeypots aren’t for everyone. They can be a good idea for computer security experts or individuals with a need to insure system security.

There are several different types of honeypots of varying complexity. These can be physical machines or virtually emulated ones to lure a hacker into showing themselves before doing any damage. Honeypots can be very beneficial to some but not necessary for others, so if you are interested, research and see if it is an appropriate solution for your secure setup.


Robinhoods of the Web

July 2nd, 2012 No comments

The Internet can be a scary place where anyone can be a victim at any time. But some may take comfort in knowing that certain hackers and black hat computer experts are focusing their attention on targets they think can afford to take a hit. McAfee and Guardian Analytics has identified a network of thieves who have stolen anywhere from %60-100 million so far, with attempts to steal much more. The campaign has been dubbed “Operation High Roller” and the targets are U.S. companies with at least several million dollars in their accounts.

The operation consists of at least 12 different groups. Specific targets are identified using online reconnaissance, but beyond that methods of infiltration vary. Amongst other exploits, the hackers are finding security flaws in automated transactions. As with most computer security issues, the attackers will always move quickly to expand their capabilities, challenging the defenders of computer security systems to keep up.