People, organizations, businesses, and governments increasingly rely on the Internet and Information Technology daily. Consequently, this data and IT resources must be protected as best as possible, which falls to cybersecurity professionals.
This article will help newbies get a clear answer to “What is cybersecurity?” and highlight its importance, benefits, and tips. We will also examine the threats cybersecurity defends against and other related topics, including how you can take an online cybersecurity program to boost your IT career.
But before we start, let’s resolve a semantics issue.
So, Is it Cyber Security or Cybersecurity?
No absolute authority has resolved this burning question with a “so shall it be always” ruling. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the Associated Press, it’s one word. Additionally, Americans favor cybersecurity, while British writers prefer cyber security.
Ultimately, the user should employ whichever form they’re comfortable with. For instance, you will see references to a cyber security course and a cybersecurity course. They both work.
Now that we have that out of the way, what is cyber security?
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity protects data, computers, servers, mobile devices, programs, apps, electronic systems, and networks from malicious attacks. Cybersecurity is also called electronic information security or information technology security.
Cybersecurity consists of processes, technologies, and practices to prevent attack, damage, modification, theft, and unauthorized access.
Why is Cybersecurity Important?
Today’s world is more connected than ever, with individuals and organizations increasingly relying on IT assets. So much of our vital infrastructure, such as banking and financial systems, education, healthcare, governments, and manufacturing industries, rely on Internet-connected devices for an essential part of their operations.
Sensitive information, like financial data, personal information, and intellectual property, is potentially vulnerable to unauthorized exposure or access that may have negative consequences. Intruders, hackers, and threat actors have many motivations for cybercrimes, including extortion, financial gain, political or social motives, or even simple malicious vandalism.
The more our modern world relies on IT resources, the more critical cybersecurity becomes.
The Many Kinds of Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity field is divided into numerous sub-domains. Many diverse IT assets must be protected, so specialized fields were created to address the unique challenges of these different assets. Here’s a breakdown, including a brief description.
- Application Security. Application security protects apps and the devices that use them from unwanted threats.
- Cloud Security. As cloud usage increases, this sub-domain’s value rises, as it protects information stored in cloud architectures or digital environments.
- Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning. This sub-domain includes the monitoring, alerts, processes, and plans for how the organization responds to data or operations losses due to illegal activity.
- End User Education. The human element plays a vital role in cybersecurity vulnerability, so this sub-domain informs the most unpredictable cybersecurity factor (people!) on how to practice good cybersecurity behavior.
- Identity management. Identity management determines everyone’s access level within an organization.
- Information or Data Security. This cybersecurity sub-domain involves robust data storage mechanisms to maintain data privacy and integrity and privacy of data, whether stored or in transit.
- IoT Security. The Internet of Things has become more widespread, so this cybersecurity form protects IoT devices with auto-segmentation to control network activities, discovery and classification of connected devices, and employing IPS as a virtual patch to intercept exploit attacks against vulnerable IoT devices.
- Mobile Security. This cybersecurity form involves securing organizational and personal data on mobile devices (e.g., cell phones, computers, tablets, etc.) against device loss or theft, unauthorized access, malware, etc.
- Network Security. Network security implements hardware and software to protect computer networks from internal and external attacks, unauthorized access, disruption, intruders, and misuse.
- Operational Security. Operational security involves processing and making decisions regarding data asset security and handling.
Now that we have a better idea of what cybersecurity is let’s explore the many cyber threats to today’s IT environments.
Know Your Enemy: The Types of Cyber Threats
It doesn’t take an experienced cybersecurity analyst to know that there are as many types of cyber threats as there are reasons to engage in cybercrime. Here are the most common forms of cyber threats.
- Brute Force. Brute force is a cryptographic hack employing trial and error to guess all possible combinations until the correct information is found.
- Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS). Cybercriminals prevent computer systems from fulfilling legitimate requests by overloading the networks and servers with traffic.
- Domain Name System Attacks (DNS). Cybercriminals exploit flaws in the Domain Name System to redirect the site’s users to malicious websites, a process called DNS hijacking. Hackers can then steal data from the affected computers.
- Malware. Malware is a portmanteau meaning “malicious software” and is one of the most common cyber threats. It’s broken down into:
- Adware. Advertising software that spreads malware.
- Botnets. Malware-infected computer networks.
- Ransomware. Malware that locks users out of their data until a ransom is paid.
- Spyware. Malware that secretly records a user’s activity for later illegal use (e.g., credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, bank account passwords).
- Trojans. Malware disguised as legitimate software fools users into uploading it onto their devices.
- Viruses. Self-replicating malware attaches itself to clean files and spreads throughout the computer, infecting files with malicious code.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attack (MitM). Cybercriminals intercept communication between two parties to steal data, typically on an unsecured Wi-Fi network.
- Phishing. Cybercriminals target their victims with legit-looking e-mails to con them into giving out private information.
- SQL Injection (SQLI). Cybercriminals insert malicious code into a database through a malicious SQL statement, giving them access to sensitive information.
Although cybersecurity’s primary purpose is to guarantee data protection, there are three principles that the discipline strives for. The overarching principle, the CIA triad, stands for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability.
- Confidentiality. Confidentiality is privacy that restricts unauthorized access to personal information, ensuring that only the right people can use the information.
- Integrity. This principle ensures the information is accurate, authentic, and safe from unauthorized changes.
- Availability. Availability means the information is always accessible to authorized users and not hindered by cyber-attacks.
The Benefits of Cybersecurity
Properly implemented cybersecurity provides many advantages, such as:
- Protection against cyberattacks and data breaches
- The company’s reputation and trust among consumers, developers, partners, stakeholders, and staff increases
- The organization’s data and network security are protected
- You avoid unauthorized user access
- There’s a faster recovery time after a breach
- You get protection for end-users and endpoint devices
- It keeps your organization compliant with regulations
- It ensures continuous operations
What is Cybersecurity: Safety Tips
There are simple things that every person can do to help keep IT assets safe. Whenever you’re at your computer or engaging with your mobile device, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep your software and operating systems current. This guarantees that you have the latest security patches installed.
- Keep backups of your data. Up-to-date data backups make it easier to restore your systems after a disaster or a data breach.
- Use anti-virus software. This software detects and removes threats.
- Use strong passwords and multifactor authentication. Avoid easily guessed passwords, and incorporate upper and lower case alphanumeric characters and special characters (e.g., @, !, #, *, etc.). Change passwords regularly. You should also require users to authenticate their logins through multiple devices.
- Raise awareness. Ensure your staff is security-savvy by training personnel on company policies, security best practices, and other valuable information.
- Don’t open email attachments from unknown sources. These emails are typically infected with malware. Sometimes, the simple act of opening the email is enough to deliver malware. Unfortunately, some hackers create extremely convincing fake emails from trusted organizations such as banks, online shopping platforms, or cable providers. Call the organization directly, but don’t use the phone number included in the email. Google the number from the company’s website.
- Conduct periodic cybersecurity reviews. Organizations should conduct regularly scheduled security inspections to identify potential security risks against their networks and apps. A member of cybersecurity management should handle these reviews. These reviews can also include penetration testing conducted by ethical hackers.
- Don’t click on links in e-mails from unknown senders or unfamiliar websites. This is another common way that malware is spread.
- Avoid accessing insecure Wi-Fi networks in public places. These insecure networks leave you open to man-in-the-middle attacks.
Are You Looking for Cybersecurity Courses and Certificates?
Whether you want to become a cybersecurity analyst or an ethical hacker or move up the ladder into cybersecurity management, you need access to the right skills. This cybersecurity bootcamp is an intense, 24-week program that offers offensive and defensive cybersecurity expertise and teaches network security, digital forensics, and other valuable, related topics.
According to Glassdoor.com, cybersecurity professionals in the United States can make an annual average of $101,822. So, check out this challenging and vital bootcamp, and hone your cybersecurity skills so that if you’re new to the field or a veteran who’s upskilling, you’ll be ready to face the latest cybersecurity challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few popular questions that summarize what we’ve discussed.
Q: What is cyber security?
A: Cybersecurity is the discipline that covers protecting IT assets (e.g., data, computers, servers, mobile devices, programs, apps, electronic systems, and networks) from malicious attacks.
Q: What are the different types of cybersecurity?
A: Cybersecurity is broken down into the following types:
- Application Security
- Cloud Security
- Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning
- End User Education
- Identity and access management
- Information or Data Security
- IoT Security
- Mobile Security
- Network Security
- Operational Security
Q: What is the future of cybersecurity?
A: Thanks to the continued growth of mobile device usage, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing, cybersecurity has become a top priority, and there are many opportunities and openings in the field.