In the modern digital age, individuals and businesses face numerous challenges every day. This includes cyber security. One of the biggest challenges you will face is keeping your information secure from various threats. Potential threats can include things like malware, ransomware, cybercriminals, phishing scams, identity theft, and more. Unfortunately, cybercriminals evolve their strategies daily, continually growing to discover effective attack methods. IT cybersecurity helps keep you secure against potential threats, ideally before they happen.
Cybersecurity is essentially the practice of protecting networks and devices from third-party intrusions. It accomplishes this using a variety of tools, ranging from anti-virus software, firewalls, network monitoring, and building complex layered networks. The more advanced the need, the more intricate the cybersecurity solutions are.
There’s a lot of ground to cover when diving into this topic, but that’s we’re here. If you’re curious about cybersecurity ‑ whether for personal reasons or professional (such as careers in cybersecurity) ‑ you’ll find out what you need. In this article, give you a breakdown of the basics of cybersecurity and tell you how you can better protect your information.
All About Cyber Security
Understanding the fundamentals of cybersecurity, the practice of protecting data is only the first step. But what methods are involved, and how can you include them to reduce cyber risk? More importantly, what’s the cost? How you proceed depends on your needs.
A good cyber security strategy covers different areas of the digital world, though the specifics of the strategy will differ for businesses, government agencies (such as the Department of Homeland Security), and individuals. Each has its own criteria that need to be met. Not all solutions are perfect, so it’s vital to understand how cyber security and cyber threats impact us regularly so that we can to improve the solutions as need.
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Safety for the Individual
It’s safe to assume you have a mobile device of some kind or that you interact with technology frequently. Therefore, that smartphone, tablet, laptop, or personal computer stores information about you. It is this personal information that needs protection. You want to keep it secure, which requires identifying vulnerabilities and resolving them.
Today, there is a range of practical techniques to shield individual data. For example, it’s common practice to have anti-virus software installed on a PC. Other options are available for mobile devices. Firewalls are also standard (and virtually mandatory) for a basic level of protection. Using firewalls helps to catch intrusions and block harmful connections to ensure sensitive data isn’t leaked out to unknown parties. To give some perspective to the importance of a firewall, how would you feel if any hacker could easily access your checking account because there is no barrier to stop him?
For mobile devices, there are other options. While mobile devices do not get targeted by malware as PCs do, they’re still vulnerable to data loss, particularly since apps share private information. Consider the risks if popular budgeting apps were hacked, thereby releasing your financial information? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for companies to suffer data breaches, resulting in exposure of personal info.
Multi-factor authentication is a reliable protection method for individuals. Also referred to as 2FA (two-factor authentication), this process requires ownership of a device. When logging in to an app or website, the app or site sends a one-time security code to the user’s device. The user then uses this code to finish logging in. Doing so prevents the brute force attacks that hackers sometimes utilize to breach accounts successfully. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to break accounts, but 2FA is a powerful way to stop them, as it requires access to the device.
Why Learn About Cyber Security
Modern society has moved well beyond the days of dial-up Internet and simplistic software programs. Now, in many IT environments, with their high degree of complexity, cybersecurity is universal. As it becomes increasingly used, however, it’s essential to understand it. You wouldn’t want to jump on a bike and ride it without learning the basics, would you? In a sense, cybersecurity is the same. Learning about cybersecurity best practices keeps you safe online.
Other Helpful Practices:
● Use multi-factor authentication, as it is an excellent and easy way to protect your personal information and data. Also, consider setting up strong passwords that use different characters and avoid using the same password for different websites.
● You need to understand how to identify phishing emails and other spear attacks. Prevent malicious links and sites or contact addresses.
● Limit the amount of personal information you post on social media and increase your application security.
Cyber Security for Business
Preventing incidents at your organization is of paramount importance. Just like attackers look to steal data from people, they’re also gunning for company information. It’s imperative to note: business size does not matter. A popular but dangerous myth is that cybercriminals only attack giant corporations, but that’s not the case. If you have valuable data, you’re a target.
Business security solutions are more complicated than individual security since there are more components to manage, like company software. A good strategy here is a mix of appropriate risk management, implementing the right tools, maintaining good habits, educating staff, and investing in security measures for application safety. Just like it’s an erroneous assumption to believe small businesses do not get attacked, it’s worse to assume that throwing money at the problem will solve any IT cybersecurity issue.
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Protecting Your Business
Preventing identity theft, disaster scenarios, and data breaches are among the most important goals for a company. Doing so requires a philosophy with the right utilities and cybersecurity professionals. For example, a robust cybersecurity infrastructure will typically have the following qualities:
- Active defense cybersecurity tools, like anti-virus and customizable firewalls (also known as hybrid firewalls); Educated staff who understand best practices, like identifying phishing emails and data-breach response; Backup disaster recovery options with different ways to preserve data; Layered networks separated by passwords; Conducting frequent penetration tests to understand current security efficiency; Setting strong passwords and changing them as needed; Investing in threat intelligence to assess a potential risk; and hiring expert staff with excellent credentials (such as the CompTIA certification).
Naturally, the cost and implementation of the above points differ for each business. However, these points are a solid foundation for any corporate infrastructure and can serve most needs. A professional security architect best suits to implement them.
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Responding to a Breach
Even with the best intentions, data breaches still occur. It’s important to note that successful cyberattacks do happen and are a part of the cybersecurity struggle. For this reason, a part of your cyber defense strategy should be an adequate response. Combining this with penetration testers will make avoiding disaster easier.
If you’re an individual, breach response depends on the account(s) compromised. Sometimes you’ll receive an email alert, and other times a business may notify you of a data breach. In that situation, there are a few things you can do:
● Contact bank accounts and inform them of a breach and pay attention to unusual activity, check your email for alert messages, and immediately update the information of the affected account
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Cyber Security For Business
As a company, responding to a data breach is more complicated and requires an excellent cybersecurity strategy. The specifics of the response will depend on the type of violation and what part of the network suffers. They will also depend on what information was lost, stolen, or damaged.
As mentioned, it’s essential to have security controls on hand for breaches to reduce the risk of data loss. If services experience outages, for instance, using cloud services or outsourced support is a useful solution. For example, a business might lose its customer support due to downtime, but it resolves this by outsourcing it to a third-party provider during said downtime.
Using security forensics to reveal how the breach occurred is also a mission-critical task. Was it caused by staff error (clicking on malicious message links)? By a distributed attack? By a lack of 2FA? Understanding this area is crucial to prevent repeat problems of the same type.
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Types of Cyber Security Threats
By now, you have a good grasp of some cybersecurity basics and how to handle them. But, what about the threats themselves? Like the field, there are different intrusions, malware types, and methods deployed to wreak havoc on systems.
A general term for viruses, malware’s goal is to infect a system or network in order to cause unintended results. Malware ranges from keyloggers to worms to viruses. Some destroy data on a system while others steal it. Malware infects systems through a variety of ways, either from clicking links or running dangerous executables (code).
Phishing attacks are a type of social engineering. They’re one of the oldest forms of cyberattacks, and people typically deploy them through email. In an email or message, a third-party will attempt to imitate an official business to get the user to click on a link. This link usually contains malware.
Ransomware is a particularly dangerous type of malware that targets companies and systems, generally to encrypt information. When information is encrypted, it’s locked away from the user. The only way to remove the encryption is to pay the ransom. It’s challenging to remove once on a system.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are a type of cyber threat that targets servers. The primary goal is to overload the servers with artificial traffic so that the corresponding website can’t load. Such overload is dangerous for businesses since it can lead to costly downtime for an undetermined period.
Hijacker attacks, also known as “man in the middle” attacks, are common. In this scenario, a client connects to a host server. The client’s connection gets hijacked (unknowingly), and then the information gets stolen during that interaction. In other cases, the connection is taken to fool the server. The server “communicates” with the attackers and distributes sensitive information.
Though it’s an old form of malware, keyloggers are still dangerous. Keyloggers infect systems and record keystrokes, typically to steal login and password information. However, they are relatively easy to detect since they cause serious performance issues with an infected system.
You should now have a better idea of cybersecurity and how it affects daily life, whether personal or professional. Cybersecurity and practicing safe online habits is an important skill to build. Right now, the same information can be held on multiple platforms with technology through syncing apps, smart devices, smart machines, and more. This usage is expected to continue to increase over the years. As such, even government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security are putting more emphasis on cyber safety.
As this use of technology platforms increases, you expose yourself in more ways, leading to additional points of exploitation. Sometimes those points vulnerabilities lead to full-on data breaches (think how many times you’ve seen the news about an enormous data breach at a company), leaking your information.
Therefore, preparing for cyber attacks and designing effective cybersecurity strategies is an essential part of modern living, whether you’re a person or business.
Do you take cybersecurity seriously? Have you ever been a victim due to a company’s lack of cybersecurity?