The primary challenges of Internet security have everything to do with balancing accessibility and functionality with the three pillars of information security: confidentiality, integrity and availability.
The Internet has become an in disposable tool for research, commerce, art, education and virtually every part of modern life. It was the inquisitive, intelligent, intuitive and creative nature of humanity that created the Internet and its those same qualities that put individual systems linked directly to the Internet in peril. The three pillars of information security are at stake for all systems with connectivity to the Internet. The challenge is in the implementation of the necessary security controls to achieve those three pillars.
Confidentiality pertains to protecting sensitive information. Sensitive information can be anything from private user information to classified defense data. Many organization live and die by the protection of proprietary information from competitors. During wartime, the armed services literally LIVE or DIE based on how well certain sensitive information is guarded. In the US Department of Defense is called Operational Security. Since the Internet is a critical part of the DoD (and defense organizations around the world) the confidentiality is a HUGE challenge for their Information systems exposed to the Internet. Some of the threats to there systems include: social engineering, leaks of information and accidental release of sensitive data. All of these threats can be enabled via the Internet.
Organizations must educate their user who have access to sensitive information. I’ve heard some security professionals say that educating users is bad.
But if your users have access to sensitive information (and need to have that access to do their jobs) it is imperative that they not only know WHAT is sensitive, but WHO it can be give to, WHEN it can be shared, HOW it can be share and WHY it can be shared.
Data integrity is very important to all systems passing data on the Internet. Integrity has to do with whether or not the message on the other end of your connection is the same one you actually sent. Whether its your passwords being passed to your bank or the DoD passing data over the Internet, the integrity of the data is imperative. Its often taken for granted until, we are sending an email and the receiver says they got the email but the message can’t be read. Sometimes if the messages integrity is garbled or malformed it simply won’t reach its destination. If the integrity of a message can not be protected in some way or verified and checked, it is possible for someone to intercept your message, alter it, and send it on its way. Integrity is especially critical in banking and financial transactions which is why encryption and authentication take on such an important role for sensitive transactions such as ATM withdrawals, and online banking.
The challenge to maintaining Internet integrity is to ensure that link is encrypted when necessary.
If there is no availability there is no mission, no business, no functionality. One of the major challenges of Internet security has been Denial of Services attacks. A Denial of Service attack is when your system on the Internet (or within a network) is flooded with useless traffic such that no one else (not even you) can use it. With a misconfiguration, a denial of service can happen by accident. Its important to test the availability of an online system. Its also a good practice to see what kind of availability and access you are giving. After all, too much availability can compromise the security of your system.
Most challenges of Internet security can tie into one or more of the big three: confidentiality, confidentiality or availability. With those in mind most challenges can be overcome. But the double edged sword of security.. the very nature of it on the Internet is to constantly change and evolve with the Internet. The constant change of threats to those three aspects of security is perhaps the biggest over arching challenge.