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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2002

URLs in this document have been updated. Links enclosed in {curly brackets} have been changed. If a replacement link was located, the new URL was added and the link is active; if a new site could not be identified, the broken link was removed.


Science and Technology Resources on the Internet

Computer Security

Jane F. Kinkus
Mathematical Sciences Librarian
Purdue University

The term computer security is used frequently, but the content of a computer is vulnerable to few risks unless the computer is connected to other computers on a network. As the use of computer networks, especially the Internet, has become pervasive, the concept of computer security has expanded to denote issues pertaining to the networked use of computers and their resources.

The major technical areas of computer security are usually represented by the initials CIA: confidentiality, integrity, and authentication or availability. Confidentiality means that information cannot be access by unauthorized parties. Confidentiality is also known as secrecy or privacy; breaches of confidentiality range from the embarrassing to the disastrous. Integrity means that information is protected against unauthorized changes that are not detectable to authorized users; many incidents of hacking compromise the integrity of databases and other resources. Authentication means that users are who they claim to be. Availability means that resources are accessible by authorized parties; "denial of service" attacks, which are sometimes the topic of national news, are attacks against availability. Other important concerns of computer security professionals are access control and nonrepudiation. Maintaining access control means not only that users can access only those resources and services to which they are entitled, but also that they are not denied resources that they legitimately can expect to access. Nonrepudiation implies that a person who sends a message cannot deny that he sent it and, conversely, that a person who has received a message cannot deny that he received it. In addition to these technical aspects, the conceptual reach of computer security is broad and multifaceted. Computer security touches draws from disciplines as ethics and risk analysis, and is concerned with topics such as computer crime; the prevention, detection, and remediation of attacks; and identity and anonymity in cyberspace.

While confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity are the most important concerns of a computer security manager, privacy is perhaps the most important aspect of computer security for everyday Internet users. Although users may feel that they have nothing to hide when they are registering with an Internet site or service, privacy on the Internet is about protecting one's personal information, even if the information does not seem sensitive. Because of the ease with which information in electronic format can be shared among companies, and because small pieces of related information from different sources can be easily linked together to form a composite of, for example, a person's information seeking habits, it is now very important that individuals are able to maintain control over what information is collected about them, how it is used, who may use it, and what purpose it is used for.

Scope of this Guide

This guide is intended to present a selected list of sites that cover the basic issues of computer security and which provide useful information for the non-expert (librarian, undergraduate student, office manager, etc.) who wants to learn more about this increasingly important subject. The categories are intended to offer points of departure for some of the many aspects of computer security. For the sake of brevity, this guide stops short of entering the vast realm of commercial software products, consulting firms, and the like. The individual who is in the market for security products or services should have no trouble finding descriptions, reviews, and comparisons on the web and through other media.


The web sites in this list were collected through various methods, including searches of Internet directories such as Google and Yahoo, the Librarian's Index to the Internet, the {Scout Report}, and the World Cat database (userid and password are required); burrowing through information security portals such as {InfoSysSec} and {Packet Storm Security}; and exploring links from within quality sites as they were encountered. Emphasis has been placed on sites that provide practical information rather than merely advertise products; accordingly, most of the sites selected are hosted in .edu, .gov, and .org domains. However, commercial sites were not discounted if they provided substantive information in addition to product information.

General Sources

Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security
CERIAS's mission is to be recognized as the leader in information security and assurance research, education, and community service. To these ends, CERIAS offers a free security seminar on diverse security topics on Wednesday afternoons during the fall and spring semesters; attendees may show up in person or through a live internet stream. The CERIAS web site also includes extensive computer security resources for K-12 teachers, including background information, lesson plans, and links to other web resources.

TECS: The Encyclopedia of Computer Security
TECS provide a forum for visitors to seek the opinions of one or several security experts on a broad scope of security questions. Users range from individuals asking about their home computers to students working on projects to IT professionals; TECS's panel of volunteer security experts tend to work for computer or security consulting companies. Questions are sent via listserv to the experts, whose answers are then published, along with the question, on the web site. The site owners request that the experts try to provide balanced answers that do not gratuitously advertise specific products; vendors are free to list full product descriptions in the TECS Security Product Database.

This site is maintained by the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; the information available at this site is presented from a legal, rather than technical, perspective. It provides a plethora of information about the various ways computers can be used to commit crimes, how and to whom to report computer crimes, and what to do if you are the victim of computer crime. It includes links to cases, laws, legal issues, and policy issues surrounding hacking, intellectual property infringements, and other online offenses.

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures
MITRE, a not-for-profit national resource that provides systems engineering, research and development, and information technology support to the government, has created CVE in an attempt to standardize the names of vulnerabilities and other information security exposures. MITRE's goal is to increase data communication across network tools by encouraging software companies and developers to use the common names found at the CVE web site; according to CERIAS, "CVE is the key to vulnerability database compatibility." To date, over 60 major organizations have agreed to make their products and services CVE compliant.

Stay Safe Online
The National Cyber Security Alliance, comprised of corporate and government organization members, sponsors Stay Safe Online to educate home and small business computer users in basic computer security practices, thereby helping to protect the nation's internet infrastructure. The site offers a personal computer security self-test, beginner's guides on various security topics, and a one-hour online course on security fundamentals.

Security Statistics
Because online banks, retailers, and other businesses may wish to protect their reputations by not reporting problems associated with online attacks, statistics about such can be difficult to find. The Security Statistics site is a portal to data on computer security incidents. Statistics are pooled from a wide range of sources, and includes information about security spending, known vulnerabilities, numbers of reported security breaches, economic impact of incidents, arrests and convictions, and more. The site does not guarantee the accuracy of reported statistics, but the sources of each statistic are included.


Computer and Information Ethics on WWW
This site is a subdivision of a website on ethics resources which is maintained by the University of British Columbia's Centre for Applied Ethics. The site provides lists of web sites, as well as lists of electronic and print publications, pertaining to various ethical issues in computing. There is a section on courses in computer ethics, which provides links to online syllabi to classes taught at other institutions, and a list of links to relevant organizations. The breadth of this site is limited, but it's a good place to begin exploring the ethical issues of network computing.

Ethics in Computing
This site is administered by Dr. Edward F. Gehringer, an NCSU professor in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science who teaches several undergraduate and graduate classes in computer science and computer ethics. The site organizes computer ethics into a simple hierarchy of topics, starting with basic information on ethics. The articles are not necessarily recent, although many concepts pertaining to ethics may remain constant over time. An interesting feature is the site map, which looks like a real map, which offers a graphical representation of how the concepts are related.


EFF Privacy Now! Campaign
The Electronic Frontier Foundation was founded in 1990 to confront civil liberties issues raised by new technologies. EFF's interest in privacy issues runs the gamut from Internet anonymity and pseudonymity to medical privacy to the privacy risks posed by the nation's post-9/11 increased interest in surveillance, biometrics, and a national identification system. This site goes beyond mere tips and offers a thoughtful analysis of the privacy (and social) consequences of our increasingly automated society. Look for Carabella-an interactive adventure game that illustrates some of the privacy and fair use issues associated with online music shopping.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. Their web site is full of information on privacy rights in an online environment. The main issues addressed on this site include personal privacy, financial privacy, and identity theft. Information sources include fact sheets covering specific privacy issues, news items and articles about privacy, and transcripts of PRC speeches and testimony from conferences and legislative hearings.

The Privacy Foundation
The Privacy Foundation's main privacy concerns are data that is collected surreptitiously by companies about web surfers and their browsing habits, and employer surveillance of computer activity in the workplace. Users can sign up for free email delivery of the Foundation's TipSheets and Privacy Watch advisories and commentaries. An interesting free download available at this site is Bugnosis, software which alerts Internet Explorer users to web bugs, tiny or invisible web page graphics that have been encoded to collect information about who is browsing the web page.

Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) Project
The Worldwide Web Consortium, an organization promoting greater interoperability for web technologies, has developed P3P, a proposed standard that allows web sites to state their privacy policies using special keywords so that other P3P-enabled utilities (e.g., web browsers) can interpret them and compare them to a user's privacy preferences. P3P offers users greater control over how their personal information might be used on the Internet by giving them more opportunities to avoid offending sites.

Consumer Information

Better Business Bureau Online
The Better Business Bureau system, which extends over most of the United States and Canada, has for many years mediated consumer problems by advocating voluntary self-regulation for businesses combined with increased education for consumers. The BBB now extends its services to the e-commerce arena, offering a BBB seal of reliability for qualified businesses to place on their web sites. For consumers, BBBOnline offers a "safe shopping list" of companies which merit the BBB's seal, as well as information on web safety and privacy, and online forms for lodging complaints.

Shopping Safely Online
The National Consumer League offers Shopping Safely Online as part of its larger web site of general consumer information. In addition to online shopping tips, this site provides "e-ssentials" of online privacy and security for the consumer, and advice for using online auctions. Shopping Safely Online provides a link to the NCL's National Fraud Information Center, where users can report suspected fraud and access a wealth of other sources about the risks of doing business online.

Internet Fraud Complaint Center
The IFCC, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, offers this web site as a place for consumers to learn about Internet fraud, which is largely comprised of incidents relating to online auctions, credit card misuse, and other consumer-related activity. The site provides an easy-to-complete form for reporting Internet fraud. Of special interest is the IFCC's annual report on the numbers, types, and economic impacts of crimes reported through the site.


NetzSmartz Workshop
This site is published by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Through games and other online activities, it introduces kids to some of the "outlaws of Webville," and instructs kids on how to respond to inappropriate behavior they might encounter online. The Netsmartz site for parents and educators provides suggestions for online and offline activities and is designed to increase communication between parents and children about Internet safety.

The CyberSmart! School Program is a non profit corporation that advocates Internet education by empowering children rather than simply monitoring them. The CyberSmart web site provides brief lessons for teens, printable color posters for parents to hang near the family computer, and a curriculum of 65 standards-based lesson plans for K-8 teachers. The curriculum is centered around the SMART model, focusing on safety, manners, advertising, research, and technology. Lessons plans have been designed to stand alone, can be taught in any order, and can be taught by a technology teacher, librarian or media specialist, or science or social studies teacher as appropriate for the subject matter.


Virus Bulletin
Virus Bulletin is a fee-based, monthly magazine that provides information, reviews, and comparisons of antivirus products. The Virus Bulletin website offers the latest virus-related news, description of recent viruses, and monthly prevalence tables of known virus activity. Consumers can see which antivirus products have earned the VB100% award, which is awarded to products that detect all In The Wild Viruses (see WildList Organization, below) in test scans. Of particular practical use are four step-by-step DOS tutorials for recovering from some of the more common problems of virus infection.

The WildList Organization International
The WildList Organization's mission is "to provide accurate, timely and comprehensive information about 'In the Wild' computer viruses to both users and product developers." "In the wild" viruses are viruses that have been cited by two or more of the organization's panel of computer experts as spreading in the real world and therefore pose a real threat to computers and networks. The WildList is made available free of charge by the organization and is considered a standard against which the effectiveness of antivirus programs is measured. The WildList Organization has retained its independence from any one antivirus developer and encourages all users to find an antivirus vendor and develop a relationship with its customer support service.

Hoax Busters
Hoax Busters is a public service of the Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC). Hoax Busters posits that dealing with hoax emails is annoying and time-consuming at best, and costly at worst. The Hoax Busters web is a clearinghouse of information about various types of Internet hoaxes, and strives to debunk dire warnings about various fake viruses and other malicious code that have no basis in fact. The site also confronts chain letters, urban myths, sympathy letters, and other cons, and offers suggestions for how to recognize hoaxes and what to do about them.

F-Secure: Security Information Center
The self described "industry standard source for up-to-date information on new viruses and hoax alerts," this site provides long, easily readable descriptions and screen shots of known viruses, including their variations, and information on how to recover if you're hit. While F-Secure naturally promote the sale of their commercial products, they also offers a few dozen free downloads to fix specific virus problems. Also of interest are a six-minute video entitled "Virus Summary 2001," an account of the most notable (i.e., destructive) virus attacks of 2001, and a list of tips to avoid those pesky, and increasingly popular, email worms.

Security Policies

Security Policy Issues
The Systems Administration, Networking, and Security Institute (SANS) is an organization comprised of computer security practitioners from government agencies, corporations, and universities. The SANS reading room provides access to over 1300 research articles across the spectrum of computer security; the Security Policy Issues section features over 60 articles, many of which were written by IT professionals to fulfill part of the requirements for the Global Information Assurance Certification. This site also contains an information security policy primer and policy examples and templates. Access to the SANS reading room is free, but users must register to receive a password.

EDUCAUSE/Cornell Institute for Computer Policy and Law
The ICPL is a collaboration between Cornell, which began its Computer Policy and Law program in 1996, and EDUCAUSE, which promotes intelligent use of information technology in higher education. The Library Resources section provides access to hundreds of computer policies collected from educational institutions of all sorts, companies and corporations, networks, and municipalities. The policies pertain to virtually every aspect of campus technology use, from acceptable/responsible use to library policies to security and privacy policies. Users are invited to submit their own policies to the collection.


Cryptology ePrint Archive
The International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) is a non-profit scientific organization whose purpose is to further research in cryptology and related fields. IACR's Cryptology ePrint Archive accepts clear and readable submissions from authors which "look somewhat new and interesting," and "contain proofs or convincing arguments for any claims." The archive begins in 1996, and as of this writing, there are 136 articles posted for 2002. While many of the newer articles are available as .pdf files, many files are available in postscript format only.

The International PGP Home Page
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a cryptographic device for protecting digital information, including the contents of email messages, developed by Phil Zimmerman in 1991 and distributed as freeware for non-commercial use. The purpose of this web site is to promote the use of PGP worldwide by providing downloads, documentation, FAQs, lists of known bugs, links to web sites, and the latest news and other information about PGP in English and other languages.

Intrusion Detection

DShield-Distributed Intrusion Detection System collects information about cracking, or penetration of computer systems by unauthorized parties, from all over the Internet. Systems administrators are encouraged to share their firewall logs so that patterns of intrusion activity can be analyzed; Dshield will contact an Internet service provider if it appears to be the origin of suspicious activity. Dshield provides a geographic distribution of reported attack sources from the past five days, as well as the IP addresses of the 10 most probed ports and the top 10 offending ports. The site also provides an "Are you cracked?" utility, which compares the user's IP address with a list of known attackers; if an IP address is matched, it is possible that the user's computer has been used by crackers to attack other machines.

Operating System Security

Network Security Library
This is a site providing articles on general network and system security, and no emphasis is placed on any one OS. Due to the large number of articles available on Unix and Windows, these systems have their own links; articles on other operating systems, such as Macintosh or Linux, can be found through keyword searches. Articles come from a variety of sources, including individual submissions as well as published book chapters. Readers are invited to rate articles on a scale of one to ten, and the average score and number of votes are listed with each article title.

Windows Security Guide
This site lists security vulnerabilities and fixes for all Microsoft operating systems, as well as for network-related utilities such as MS Internet Explorer and Internet Information Server. Other services include a free newsletter of alerts and updates, and "support forums" for discussion of security topics. There are two levels of membership: the basic free membership allows access to the forums and newsletters, while a fee-based premium subscription option allows access to help files, free downloads, and the ability to turn off advertisements.

Macintosh Security Site
The Macintosh Security Site contains several informative articles on Macintosh security, and reviews of many security products for Macs and Mac servers. While the site is supported through paid advertisements, the ads are rather unobtrusive. Of interest is the fact the Macintosh Security Site is maintained as the "white side" of Freak's Macintosh Archive, a "hacking" site devoted to announcing and exploiting security vulnerabilities in Macintosh software & utilities.

Linux Security
This site is sponsored by Guardian Digital, Inc., an Open Source security company which produces EnGarde Linux products. The site is not used solely to advertise EnGarde products, and other vendors and products are represented through their sponsorship of the site as well as in articles and advisories posted at the site. The News section of the site provides full-text articles, reprinted from a variety of external sources, on a wide range of general and Linux-specific security topics; the Documentation section features numerous practical "how-to" articles. Users can subscribe to free weekly Linux security newsletters and advisories and participate in an online mailing list.


CISSP and SSCP Open Study Guides
The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc ( offers two security certifications, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and the Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP). This site offers study guides, tips for taking the certification tests, newsletters, chat rooms, book reviews, and more, all written by volunteers who are preparing for or have passed the exams. Study guides address particular sections included in the exams. Free registration is required to access the full content of this site.

Information Warfare

Information Warfare Site
Because of the increasing interconnectedness of critical systems such as telecommunications, banking and finance, energy, and transportation, national infrastructures have become increasingly vulnerable to online terrorist threats. The Information Warfare Site "aims to stimulate debate about a range of subjects from information security to information operations and e-commerce." While the site's domain name denotes United Kingdom, much of the content is derived from government and news sources of the United States and other countries. Online discussion forums cover topics such as e-commerce, terrorism, critical infrastructure protection, and others.


Biometrics Research
This site, run by Michigan State University's Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is a good beginning point for learning more about biometrics. It includes a brief but informative overview of biometrics, and descriptions of various biometric technologies, such as fingerprint matching, hand geometry, voice recognition, and so on. The "Projects" and "Publications" lists are limited to work by MSU people, but there is also a short list of external web links leading to biometric companies, consulting firms, and research centers.

International Biometric Group
International Biometric Group LLC is a biometrics consulting firm which considers itself to be "vendor-independent and technology-neutral, allowing it to objectively and independently assess companies, technologies, products, and projects." Of special interest at IBG's web site is the "Research and Reports" section, where IBG provides information on biometrics basics, specific biometric technologies and their applications, accuracy and performance, as well as vendor and industry information. Users must register with the site to gain access to the full reports, but registration is free and is activated immediately.

Biometrics Catalog
This is a database of biometric technologies maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice. Users can search for information about biometric products by biometric type, keyword, and date, as well as vendor category (commercially available products, products in government testing, products in non-government testing, etc.). Vendors can add information about their products, but forms that do not contain complete contact information will not be posted to the site.

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