Time to Fasten our Seatbelts!

Time to Fasten our Seatbelts!

No, this time we aren’t traveling to places, nor are we going for a roller coaster ride. Actually, some guests are planning to travel to our place and we are the ones who need to fasten our seatbelts. Confusing enough? Okay, let me explain what that really means!

Hackers, not those actors in a science fiction movie who are pinging google.com in the name of hacking, but real life artists who are actually capable of changing the shape of the whole world in a good way but many times in a BAD way too. A good hacker i.e. an ethical hacker or a white hat hacker scans for vulnerabilities in a system and tells us about the countermeasures we can apply to strengthen our system’s defense. While a bad hacker or a black hat hacker just exploits them to gain access of our credentials, to modify our system or to deny us from utilizing our resources. But don’t get confused, any hacker can change their hat from black to white or vice versa depending upon what they fancy.

In a developing country like Nepal, though a number of people are using internet, they are either unaware or hesitant about the cyber security threats that surrounds them. From the governmental level to the public level, the measures have barely been taken to address this. The poor digital access and political instability adds to the misery of the country’s vulnerable cyber system. The Nepal Telecommunications Authority just passed the “Cyber Security Byelaw, 2020”. However, this cyber law is so young that even if someone breaches your system, the government can do very little in terms of enforcing the legal policies to help you out. So, to all the readers out there, I would suggest you to enforce your own cyber security policies to help yourself which can be done overnight unlike trying to enforce the government’s policies. How to enforce your policies? C’mon, give an hour to surf the internet on how-to and you’ll get bunch of good advices.

The black hat hackers around the world have become so dangerous that it doesn’t even take them a day to destroy the whole cyber system of a technologically underdeveloped country like Nepal. We have witnessed cyberwars breaking out between countries time and again, e.g. Russia’s manipulation of social media to sway Western elections, most notably the 2016 US presidential election. Recently, we even noticed a tiny cyber war between Nepali and Indian hackers who were there to show off their hacking skills by publicizing credentials of governmental websites. These are just the small alarms of potential cyberwars that might take place in the near future. But unlike Russia, USA, or China, we don’t have a cyber-army to protect our country. Nepalese media accumulating four or five bug hunters and saying these are the cyber army of Nepal is a funny yet one of the most serious topics that is yet to be discussed. No disrespect to those fours or fives, but this just shows the quantity that we lack in case of man power to protect our country from any sort of possible cyber security threats.

So, when are we going to prepare for the potential calamity that we might face in the near future? It’s time to think the broader way. It is not just about the cyber wars, or the sensitive information being breached. It is about the competitiveness of the country in the technological battlefield. It’s still not too late to take the right steps to make the country and its technological masterminds competent. The right steps to be taken by the concerned authorities may be:

  • Enforcing the cyber law in thwarting cybercrimes.
  • Encouraging youth to get involved in learning cyber defense skills i.e. HACKING skills.
  • Maintaining political and institutional stability to ensure stable and efficient governance.
  • Accumulating the existing ethical hackers and giving them advanced training to sharpen their skillset.
  • •        Encouraging the public to take smallest of steps towards keeping their credentials secure.
  • Sharing the information regarding cyber-attacks and potential threats through communication lines in a frequent manner.
  • Being up to date with the system.

It is not just the government or the IT professionals who needs to be ready to fight against the cyber threats, but, also the general public as well. One should know that little problems could eventually create bigger ones if no one takes an initiative to correct them. So, why shouldn’t we try to avoid these problems? Why not try to keep things secure from the microscopic levels? Why not fasten our seatbelts tighter and get ready to enjoy the ride of a cyber-highway without having to be much concerned about the hacker hurdles?      

So, Let’s go!

Article by:

Hritik Thapa

Computer Engineering


IP spoofing

IP spoofing

Various organizations are facing different types of cyber-attacks these days which have a serious negative impact on the proper functioning of those companies. And Spoofing is one of them. Spoofing is the act of disguising itself as someone known in the network. Spoofing can be applied to emails, phone calls, websites, and even IP addresses. IP spoofing creates IP packets and sends them in the network by modifying the source IP address in order to hide the identity of the sender or for impersonating another computer system or even both.

The primary way of communicating in the network is actually by sending and receiving the packets. The IP packet consists of header and payload (i.e. body). The header of the IP packet consists of the IP version, source IP address, and destination IP address while the payload consists of the actual information to be sent. The source IP address is the address of the sender and the destination IP address is the address of the receiver. In order to communicate, the sender sends the packet to the destination computer and receives the response after the receiver has received the packets. These packets are spoofed by forging the source IP address.

The attackers uses IP spoofing to overwhelm the computer services with packets of data ultimately shutting them down. There are mainly two ways to overload the traffic of the target computer using IP spoofing. The first one is to flood the selected target with the packet from multiple spoofed addresses by sending victim tons of data making them unable to handle. This is a direct method of IP spoofing. The second method is an indirect one. Here the packets are sent to many different recipients on the network using the spoofed IP address. The attacker disguises to be the target computer and send packets to other devices. Since the spoofed packets appear to be from the target’s computer, all the responses are sent to the target’s computer causing floods of packets on the target’s computer.

Illustration of the concept

The received spoofed packets appear to be from a legitimate source. In some of the networks, trust relationships are in place between machines and internal systems. In this type of network, IP addresses are used to verify machine identities to access the systems rather than user login. This type of authentication is known as IP address-based authentication. The IP spoofing method is used by attackers sometimes to bypass IP address-based authentication. There are several types of attacks that are launched through IP spoofing. Blind spoofing, Non-blind spoofing, DDoS attacks, man-in the middle attacks are some examples.

Illustration of the concept

Spoofed packets are difficult to be detected as the source IP address seems to be authorized. But there are various preventive measures that can reduce the possibility of IP spoofing. Key-based authentication should be used rather than IP address-based authentication. This will reduce the risk of spoofing. If possible, configuring routers and switches to reject packets originating from outside the local networks but claiming to originate from within will not allow the spoofed packets to enter the network.

IP spoofing is a cyber-attack that shuts down the target’s computer by flooding it with tons of spoofed packets. The attackers will have unauthorized access over the computers and networks, and in certain cases, IP spoofing may have negative impacts on the business and economy of some organizations where computers are responsible to provide services. However, IP spoofing is not always considered to be illegal. Sometimes VPN service is used or IP address is changed in order to browse the internet safely. But IP spoofing will be illegal if it is used to harm others or someone pretends to be someone else and commits cybercrime.

Article by:

Shreya Shrestha

CS-2nd year