What is cyber security

What is cyber security

Introduction:

In this article, I will go on to explain what cyber security is in great detail, calling attention to the various different forms it might appear in and the types of cyber security. I will then highlight the different forms of cyber threats that a cyber attacker might utilize in order to gain information about an organization or individual, with the additional chance of them shutting down the system as a whole. In addition, I will highlight the many challenges of implementing cyber security practices and the difficulties organizations might run into. Lastly, I will end of with providing some tips that each of us can utilize in our personal lives on our personal devices as well as tips organizations can use in order to avoid running into the risk of being cyberattacked and losing our personal and precious information.

Definition:

  • Cybersecurity can be identified as the practice of protecting certain networks, systems or programs from digital attacks.
  • Cyberattacks generally are initiated in order to change, access or destroy sensitive and important information from organizations and incidisuals, for example stealing money or interrupting business processes.
  • To effectively implement particular cybersecurity measures in today’s times is extremely difficult.
  • There are way more devices than there are people and attackers are smart, continuously learning new ways to innovate, which poses a great challenge on businesses and individuals who wish to secure their information.
  • A “strong cybersecurity strategy” is one that enables proper security against attackers who wish to alter, delete, destroy, or extort systems and data of various organizations as well as various individuals.
  • Professionals in cyber security will continuously try their best to defend their IT infrastructure and computer systems against any sort of type of cyber threats.
  • Cybersecurity is extremely important and pivotal in today’s modern enterprise, with an increased number of users, an increased number of devices as well as an increased number of programs.

Cyberattacks:

Cyber attacks affected businesses as well as individuals on a daily basis, with the number of attacks increasing each and every day. The threats of cybersecurity come in 3 different forms:

  • Firstly we have cybercrime, this involves groups or individuals targeting a particular organization’s system either for some sort of monetary gain or to disadvantage the system at hand by causing a sort of disruption to the system.
  • Secondly, there are cyber-attacks, more often than not this is politically motivated in order to gain important and useful information.
  • Lastly, there is a concept of cyberterrorism. This is utilized to undermine electronic systems which instills fear, panic and anxiety in individuals or organizations. 

Reasons why cyber-attacks occur:

There are various reasons why cyber attacks occur, with lots of different motives.

  • The first is money. A cyber attacker might hack into a system, taking the system completely offline, affecting an organization greatly. He might go on to demand a large sum of money in order to restore the system to its full functionality.
    • Ransomware, which is an attack that demands money in return for restoring a system, is becoming more improved and more sophisticated than ever before.
    • Both individuals and organizations are victims to these attacks, exploiting their private information to the public, if the cyber attacker is not paid a large ransome fee.

An organization’s key to better cyber security as a whole is tracking the increasing amounts of cyber attacks and the sophistication of them. It is imperative that cyber security professionals improve and increase their knowledge about particular cyber threats and attacks.

Who might cyber-attack?

There are vast types of individuals or groups who conduct these malicious cyber attacks, by disrupting operations or running information within an organization or in an individual’s personal device.

  • The types of groups that conduct these cyberattacks are usually, criminal organizations, hacktivitis, terrorist groups or insider employees who feel hard-done-by the organization that they currently work at.

Cyber security vs information security:

  • Cyber security can often be confused with information security, however there are notable differences that must be highlighted.
  • Cyber security, as we have noted, has a primary concentration on guarding computer systems from unauthorized access.
  • Information security is a might broader term, which highlights the protection of all information, no matter whether it’s in a digital form or a hard copy.

Types of cybersecurity: There are multiple types of cyber security, I will go on to explain the 5 different types.

  • The first is “critical infrastructure cyber security”.
    • Critical infrastructure organizations are vulnerable to attacks more than other organizations as a result of SCADA which is supervisory control and data and acquisition systems which depend on older types of software.
    • Thus, these types of organizations are needed to implement technical measures in order to manage their security risks.
  • Secondly, there is “network security” which highlights the multiple weaknesses or vulnerabilities that might be affecting systems and networks.
    • This includes firewalls and wireless access points or network protocols for an organization.
  • The third type of cyber security is “cloud security”, whose main duty or task is to secure applications, data and infrastructure in the Cloud.
  • Additionally, the fourth type of cyber security is “IoT (Internet of Things) security” which requires seucring smart devices and netpwlrs connected to the internet without any sort of human interventions, including lights and thermostats.
  • Lastly, the fifth type of cyber security is “application security” which addresses vulnerabilities that occur from insecure development processes in the coding and pushing of a particular website or a particular software.

Types of cyberthreats:

Cybersecurity threats are of multiple different types and it is imperative to protect information from any of these cyberthreats, no matter the form. The different types of cybersecurity threats are as follows.

  • Firstly “malware” which is bad software that might be used to harm a computer user, including viruses, worms, ransomware or spyware.
    • The way malware works is that it is activated when a user will click on a dodgy link, leading them to install malicious or dangerous software on their device.
    • Once malware is activated it can install additional harmful software, allow for access to network components or disrupt individual parts of the system, making it inoperable.
    • ”Ransomware” means an attacker will lock the victim out of his or her computer system, usually conducted through encryption and might go on to insist on some sort of payment in order to decrypt the system and unlock them.
    • Additionally, there is social engineering, this solely relies on social interactions which ploys and deceives users into breaking particular security procedures in order to get important information which, in the general sense, is usually protected.
  • Another type of cybersecurity threat is phishing, this involves fraudulent emails or messages that look like the ones we usually received from reputable sources.
    • For example, our banks or credit card companies.
    • These messages trick an individual into opening these links that look completely reliable and carrying out the various instructions that it gives, for example “please enter your credit card number”.
    • These messages attempt to steal data, for example credit card information or login information into banks or sensitive websites.
    • Additionally, there is spear phishing. This is a type of phishing attack that is targeted towards a particular organization. 
  • An additional form or type of cyberthreat is distributed denial of service attacks, or rather DDoS, which disrupt traffic of a system that is targeted.
    • This goes on to flood attack and overload the target with messages and requests, causing the system to completely slow down and possibly even crash.
    • A botnet is a type of distributed denial of service attacks.
    • A botnet is referred to as “zombine systems” which completely overwhelm a softwares processing abilities and since these botnets are in various different locations geographically, they are extremely difficult to trace down.
  • Another type of cybersecurity threat is advanced persistent threats, or in short APT’s, which are lengthened and drawn out attacks.
    • During these attacks, the attacker can gain access into a particular network and remain there for a long period of time before someone notices in order to steal important or sensitive information.
  • SQL Injection is an additional form of cyber attacks, which is uncovered by placing or installing malicious code into a particular server that utilizes SQL.
    • Once the system has been attacked or infected, the server goes on to release information.
  • Password attacks are extremely common and can lead an attacker to a great amount of information and knowledge.
    • A strategic cyber attacker depends on human interactions and often will trick people into manipulating their usual security practices.
    • Additionally, the attacker might access a password database or begin to just start guessing various passwords in order to hack into a system.
  • The last form of cybersecurity attack that I will highlight is the man-in-the-middle attacks, which are in fact eavesdropping attacks.
    • This is done through two separate parties who are thought to be communicating only with each other (this can be a visitor with the network), but in fact an attacker is gaining access into their communication, intercepting and relaying particular messages or information.
    • After listening in and interrupting the conversation, they can go on to steal the data. It is additionally imperative to note that cyber attacks might be conducted by an insider threat, which in infact an inside personnel.

The list of the different types and forms of cyber security threats goes on, thus highlighting the importance of installing proper types of security over personal information and services.

Benefits for implementing cybersecurity practices:

There are a number of benefits of implementing as well as prolonging cybersecurity practices, including, business protection against cyberattacks, business protection against data breaches, protection for data, protection for networks, preventing any unauthorized user access, regulatory compliance, business continuity and an overall improved belief and trust in an organization’s reputation.

  • By implementing cybersecurity practices, personal or sensitive information or data about an individual or organization can be prevented from being stolen.
  • The most important part of cybersecurity practices is that it increases and amplifies the security of a particular system in cyberspace.
  • Additionally, it removes and stops the risk of devices being hacked into, therefore decreasing the risk of a system freezing or crashing.
  • In addition, cyber security practices will improve security mechanisms as a whole for an individual or a business, highlighting potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses.

Cybersecurity checklist:

An organization should implement a type of cybersecurity checklist, which ensures that all types of security measures are met in order to protect information, data and systems.

  • Firstly, there should be some type of staff awareness training.
  • Since data ruptures often occur as a result of some sort of human error, it is pivotal for an organization to provide their employees with the right skills and knowledge to deal with any types of threats.
  • Secondly, organizations should include application security.
  • Application weaknesses and vulnerabilities are an easy point of breakthrough for attackers and thus an organization should place great importance on maintaining their security.
  • The third checklist item is network security.
    • The sort of security happens after conducting various assessments such as penetration testing, which will highlight and bring to one’s attention any sort of network vulnerabilities.
  • The fourth practice is leadership commitment, higher management needs to be willing to invest in proper cyber security resources such as we previously mentioned, awareness training.
  • Lastly, it is imperative for all organizations and individuals to involve themselves in password management.
    • Employees need to create strong and difficult passwords, not simple ones for example 123456789 or family names or names of their children, as this will ensure that they go on to keep their information secure.
    • Strong passwords are ones that are hard for a cyber attacker to guess and shouldn’t be something too personally connected.

Challenges in implementing cyber security practices:

Although this all seems important for businesses to implement, there are great amounts of challenges and difficulties for organizations to implement cyber security practices.

  • Firstly, cyber security is expensive, requiring highly trained professionals who might demand a high pay check.
  • The latest security breaches need to be updated on a regular basis which might pose great challenges for an organization as these are extremely difficult to keep up with, as they are changing and evolving on a regular basis.
  • To keep a system secure, a firewall needs to be configured properly, which poses a difficult task.
    • If this is done incorrectly, it can land up blocking legitimate users out of their own systems which is difficult to break into.
  • The expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) is a great challenge for cybersecurity as more and more robots are being created.
  • The most difficult and challenging aspect of cybersecurity is the advancing and evolving nature of security risks, and as a result, it might be challenging to adopt proactive strategies for shielding and protecting its information. 

Tips and tricks to protect yourselves:

Some tips and tricks that companies and individuals can utilize in order to protect themselves from cyber security attacks are as follows:

  • Update your systems regularly.
  • Make sure to install anti-vrius software on all devices, even personal ones not necessarily connected to one’s job or organization which might assist in detecting potential threats.
  • Ensure that you use strong and difficult passwords that would be challenging for a hacker to guess.
  • Don’t simplify passwords and definitely don’t use the same password for all different logins.
  • If you receive dodgy looking emails, pictures or attachments from unfamiliar people or organizations, do not click on them or open them as this could infect your system or device with malware.
  • Lastly, avoid the use of unsecure WIFI networks in public places. It is very common for any of us to arrive in a foreign airport and straight away want to connect to their wifi in order to respond to messages or even go sit at a coffee shop and ask them their wifi passwords. This can greatly affect us and these unsecure networks might leave us at risk of a man-in-the-middle attack which needs to be avoided.

The world we live in today is on a continuous evolution of technology, and this means there will continue to be more and more ways people can hack us and access our personal and private information. More and more people are owning devices, ranging from kids as young as 5 years old. This can be detrimental to our personal lives as well as affect the effectiveness and success of our organizations. Running into a cyber-attack can be costly and can affect us in more ways than one. It is important we continue our best to protect ourselves, our data and systems in order to ensure we do not run into any problems in the near future in this ever-evolving technological world.

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