What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting computers, networks, and sensitive data from unauthorized or criminal access and malicious attacks carried out by cybercriminals. It involves taking various steps and using a range of tools to detect and prevent cyber attacks, as well as responding to and recovering from security incidents.
Types of cybersecurity
With cybersecurity being such a broad field, it can be divided into multiple categories, including:
Mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, are frequently disregarded despite often having access to a corporate network and corporate data. This puts a business at risk of cyber threats from phishing, malicious apps, zero-day exploits, and more.
The function of mobile security is to create effective security measures which can secure the devices and prevent such attacks.
This type of cybersecurity protects computer networks and their associated components, such as servers, routers, switches, and firewalls, from unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or destruction, in the case of both wired and wireless connections.
Application security is essential to protect software applications from various cyber threats, such as bot attacks and unauthorized access. The security solutions involve securing applications from unauthorized access, ensuring secure coding practices, and regularly patching applications to address potential vulnerabilities.
With more and more companies adopting cloud computing, a need for cloud security arose. Cloud security protects an organization’s cloud deployment, that is, infrastructure, data, apps, and more, from cyber attacks.
Critical infrastructure security
Many may not realize this, but protecting computer systems, networks, and other critical systems is crucial for national security and public safety. That is why the National Institute of Standards and Technology developed a cybersecurity framework supporting organizations in their preventative practices, to defend against known and unknown threats, as well as digital attacks. Additionally, the US Department of Homeland Security offers guidance to complement the NIST framework.
These security controls aim to protect sensitive data and non-sensitive data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. One such data protection measure is the European General Data Protection Regulation.
Endpoint security focuses on securing the endpoints of networks, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, from cyber threats. Security solutions can include antivirus and anti-malware software, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, encryption, and security policies and protocols.
With technology constantly evolving, it can be difficult for IT personnel to keep one step ahead of cyber attacks. Not only are hackers coming up with new types of threats, but they are also “improving” the ones that already exist. Out of the ones already well-known, the most common are:
Malware is a type of malicious software that damages or disables computer systems, steals data, or gains unauthorized access to computer networks. The most common forms include viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, and ransomware.
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack where cybercriminals try to trick users into disclosing sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, by posing as someone legitimate, such as a bank or credit card company. This way, they gain access to your confidential data.
Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks
A DoS attack aims to disrupt the normal functioning of a website, network, or service by overwhelming it with traffic or requests. The cyber attacker will flood the target system with a large volume of traffic or requests, making it unable to respond to requests from users.
Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks
During this type of cyber attack, a cybercriminal will intercept communication between two parties and then relay their own messages. Both sides will believe they are communicating directly with each other, while instead, they are exchanging messages with the hacker. This way, the cybercriminal can steal sensitive data, often, without either side being aware.
Ransomware is a type of malware that aims to encrypt a victim’s files or lock them out of their system, and then demand a ransom payment in exchange for restoring access to the files or system. The ransom demand is often made in a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to make it harder to trace.
Advanced persistent threats (APTs)
APTs are sophisticated and targeted cyber attacks that aim to gain unauthorized access to a computer network or system, with the intent of stealing sensitive information or disrupting operations over a prolonged period. APTs are usually carried out by well-funded and skilled attackers, such as nation-state-sponsored hacking groups or organized criminal syndicates.
Supply chain attacks
This type of cyber attack targets the software and hardware supply chains that organizations and companies rely on and compromises them. For example, attackers can install backdoors or other malicious code in software updates or hardware components, which they can then use to exfiltrate sensitive data, manipulate systems, or launch further attacks.
Best cybersecurity practices
There are various reasons behind successful data breaches. They involve compromised devices, human errors, and insider threats. That is why to minimize cybersecurity threats, you’ll want to impose some basic cybersecurity principles, such as:
- Use strong, unique passwords for each account, as well as a password manager.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to add an extra layer of security.
- Regularly update all software to ensure that known vulnerabilities are patched, and security features are up to date.
- Install and regularly update reputable antivirus software to help protect against malware.
- Regularly back up important data and keep backups stored in a secure location.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt internet traffic and protect against eavesdropping and unauthorized access.
- Educate employees on cybersecurity practices, such as how to identify and report suspicious emails, and how to safely use company devices and networks.
What is IAM?
Identity and access management (IAM) is a set of processes and technologies used to ensure that only authorized individuals or systems have access to sensitive data, applications, and other resources.
Who are cybersecurity analysts?
Security analysts work to maintain the security of computer systems, networks, and data from potential cybersecurity threats.
Updated on: March 31, 2023