A Complete Guide to Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity protects information, networks, programs, and devices from various kinds of attacks and damage. Also known as information technology security, cybersecurity is achieved through multiple technology practices, coding processes, and security practices.
Companies and organizations need to put cybersecurity measures in place to protect their platforms and information. Since there is a ton of sensitive information - like passwords, financial statements, and more - stored on computers and other devices, it is pertinent for businesses to have protections in place to prevent issues caused by breaches in security data and systems.
Different Types of Cybersecurity
There are multiple kinds of cybersecurity measures businesses and organizations can take to protect their assets, including network, application, informational, endpoint, data, infrastructure, cloud, mobile and operational security.
Sometimes, a company will employ a network administrator to prevent network issues, track any potential problems, and protect sensitive information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. The idea is to create a solid network security system that prevents attacks from hackers, viruses, malware, and consistently protects information.
The step to any network security system is a software that enables the use of usernames and passwords. Individuals would be given certain privileges once they insert this information and allow access to the network. A firewall can also be put in place to make sure all network policies are followed while the user has access to the network.
Since a firewall doesn’t always find or prevent attacks from happening, intrusion prevention software (IPS) and antivirus software can be installed to protect the network even further.
Application security utilizes defense mechanisms to protect a network from outside threats. By using hardware, procedures, and software to protect data, companies make sure information isn’t changed, deleted, stolen, or accessed. This kind of security is best for applications on mobile devices.
There are a couple of different methods to defend against code changes that could put an application’s information at risk. The first step is a firewall that limits how an application handles and uses sensitive information; however, the most popular mechanism in application security is a router that hides the IP address of a device that is currently on the internet. Some other common countermeasures in this field of cybersecurity are conventional firewalls, spyware detection programs, antivirus software, and authentication systems.
Information security, or InfoSec, addresses the procedures needed to deal with all issues related to information and data. An effective InfoSec program records, detects, fights, and actively avoids threats to the security of that information, whether or not it is digital.
Most companies and organizations will have a group of individuals employed to ensure an InfoSec program is in place. This means setting up procedures that protect the information in all phases of recording, processing, and storing.
Operational security, or OpSec, deals with information that isn’t usually classified as sensitive. This kind of information usually deals with company data that wouldn't necessarily be a direct threat to the network at hand, but may be advantageous to competitors.
OpSec focuses on this kind of information protection to prevent competitors from bringing the business down or place them at any sort of disadvantage. Having an OpSec system in place can protect businesses during power outages or security breaches.
Endpoints on a network are considered the points of a network that end with the user, like mobile devices, computers, servers, and other similar devices. The goal of endpoint security is to protect devices from security threats caused by being connected to a company’s network.
Any device connected to a company’s network proves to be a threat to the network itself, as it gives attackers a clear entry point. By enabling endpoint security measures, like restricted access to certain websites or settings on a company device, the network becomes more protected.
Data security, also known as computer or information security, protects against unauthorized access to databases, computers, accounts, and more. It also stops information on these devices and platforms from being compromised.
A sound data security system is an essential part of every kind of information technology business. Some examples of data security measures are data backups, data erasure, and data masking.
Encryption, or the act of encrypting data to make it unreadable to hackers, is one of the best data security tools available. Authentication is also a popular measure used, where users have to prove their identity before being allowed access to a company device or network.
Database and Infrastructure Security
Measures are needed to protect databases and network infrastructures, which is exactly what database and infrastructure security do. These forms of security involve a deeper knowledge of how databases work, communicate, and manage and store data.
Companies can perform security audits to learn more about the vulnerabilities and mechanisms of databases. These audits can also prove to be a good way to create solutions for bigger underlying problems. One example of a database security problem is an error in a firewall that monitors communications in and out of networks to determine and stop any security threats.
Most businesses and organizations use the cloud to store tons of data, which is why cloud security is so important. By protecting a network’s cloud computing capabilities, a company can protect itself against security threats, breaches in information, and more serious issues.
A good cloud security system uses tools to restrict access to the cloud to authorized users. There are two types of security a business uses to protect data on their network’s cloud:
● Public Cloud Services
● Private Cloud Services
Public cloud services can be managed by a public cloud provider, while private cloud services can be managed by either internal staff or a public cloud provider. Each of these services come with different pros and cons for the company.
Mobile security, also known as wireless security, focuses on protecting portable devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Since these devices are connected to various networks wirelessly, they are subject to unique security threats.
For example, individuals can lose their portable device, download an unsafe application, have their device data compromised, or even have their device stolen. Mobile security focuses on mechanisms and processes to protect these kinds of devices, even more than others. A simple example of this is the password feature most phones have, which requires knowing a secret code or pattern before being granted access to the device.
Data Loss Prevention
Data loss prevention focuses on the safe storing of information on a network. These mechanisms make sure no unauthorized users or organizations have access to or can change any confidential information.
Data loss prevention can also identify when a breach has been made and by whom or what. After identification, these tools can fight potential malware and secure a business’s information. It can be used to protect IP addresses, personal information, and data visibility as well.
Data loss prevention can also promote “end-user education.” End-users are individuals who are more susceptible to attacks from hackers. Once these individuals are properly educated on data loss prevention and cybersecurity tools, they can better protect the company they work for.
How Companies Can Prevent Cybersecurity Issues
The main way companies can prevent cybersecurity issues is by actually learning more about cybersecurity and its threats. However, simply learning the terms isn’t enough. Company heads and organization leaders have to be able to make policies and business decisions that actively use cybersecurity to protect their information and data across all platforms. That’s where some organizations run into issues.
Some of these issues include:
● Increasing Public Awareness
● Protecting Civil Liberties
● Increasing Jobs in Cybersecurity
● Connecting Students with Cybersecurity Employment Opportunities● Proving Cybersecurity to be a Leadership Responsibility
The cybersecurity job sector is growing, which can help with some of these issues. However, more understanding is needed about cybersecurity techniques and protection methods for lasting change.
Different Types of Cybersecurity Threats
The first step to learning more about cybersecurity is finding out the kinds of threats that currently exist. Knowing these kinds of threats can help companies build preventative measures to protect their network and sensitive information.
Malware is the general term used in cybersecurity to describe the different kinds of threats. This can include viruses, ransomware, or some other form of a cybersecurity threat.
Once malware is downloaded onto a device, there are several problems it can cause, from leaking sensitive information to corrupting an entire online network. More often than not, individuals unknowingly download malware onto their devices from a faulty website, email, or application. Additionally, some malware threats don’t show themselves immediately, but instead slowly corrupt data and the device in which it is downloaded.
Phishing is one of the most common types of cybersecurity threats. Basically, a hacker will send an individual an email that looks and reads similar to one from other coworkers, friends or businesses. This kind of email will usually contain some sort of attachment or link to malware software that, once clicked, is automatically downloaded onto your device. The idea here is to use the recipient’s trust to open the link and subject their device to breaches.
When a phishing email is sent, it usually contains a link to malware. One kind of malware that is sent frequently is called ransomware.
Once ransomware is downloaded, it starts to run alongside the device’s operating system and eventually, the hackers take control of the system. Once the hacker has these capabilities, they can start unlocking or revealing the user’s data. The unique threat of ransomware isn’t the fact that this information is revealed, but that the attacker uses it to charge the victim a certain amount of money to get it back safely.
Social engineering is one of the only non-technical threats in cybersecurity. In this threat, hackers will talk directly to individuals and try to coerce them to break standard security practices to get information from them. For example, a hacker may use social engineering to get victims to tell them common facts about themselves that just so happen to be security question answers to their bank account.
Best Cybersecurity Practices
Use a Firewall
Installing a reputable firewall software onto your devices in your place of business and home is one of the most common and easy ways to protect your data and sensitive information. A firewall will restrict access to accounts, databases, and devices to make it harder for hackers to access information.
Invest in Security Systems
Security systems like malware software, antivirus detection, and continuous monitoring can give your data and devices the extra protection they need. It can also help individuals and companies save money in the long run, which is why most have some sort of security system in place.
Install Security Software
Although it is important to have security systems in place, making sure this software is installed correctly and is up-to-date is key as well. Security software regularly updates as more is learned about information technology, so keeping it updated can best help your databases and devices protect against new threats.
Make sure the data is always backed up as well. If a serious threat comes in contact with a network, the last thing that is needed is the additional burden of a complete loss of data.
Use Third-Party Controls
Unfortunately, most breaches in network security come from inside a company, which is why having a third-party security firm can be useful for business. An outside organization can help maintain the general cybersecurity framework and provide more aid than some individual employees may be able to do.
When choosing a third-party to control security, make sure to vet them well. Threats can also come from outside a business, so it is imperative to choose a firm that knows what they are doing.
As stated before, education is the first step to promoting cybersecurity in business. Having all employees utilize the same security training can not only reduce the chance of cybersecurity issues but also help problems become identified earlier in the process.
Elements of Cybersecurity
There are multiple elements to a cybersecurity system that can lead a company toward building a safer environment for their network’s information and databases.
Identity management, also known as Identity and Access Management, is one of the core elements of a cybersecurity system. Companies and security firms will use identity management to limit the number of individuals who have access to a network and reduce their capabilities while inside the network, based upon their security clearance.
The goal of identity management is to improve productivity and security while decreasing the long-term cost of cybersecurity issues. The key example of an identity management mechanism in play is a password and username function. This is a commonly used mechanism as it is relatively easy to use and inexpensive. However, other more complicated mechanisms should be implemented to improve identity management.
Another identity management mechanism that can add security to a company’s network is a token-based system. This attaches the identity of the user to an object or “token” alongside a personal identification number or password.
Using biometrics for identity management is yet another option businesses can use. Mechanisms involved with biometrics include things like fingerprints, facial recognition, retina scanning, handprints, and more.
A business’s ability to respond during a disaster is an essential part of risk management in cybersecurity. Reducing the chance of data corruption and loss is important, especially if a company may lose resources due to a disastrous event anyway.
Business Continuity Planning
Companies that do business continuity planning can have a better foothold on a situation when a security threat is present. Setting aside resources and making a detailed cybersecurity plan can leave a business better prepared in case of a disaster, hacking event, or another problem.
Make sure backups are prioritized and ensure testing plans are in place. After a disaster has passed backups and testing help a business make sure everything is up-to-date and working correctly.
Intrusion Detection System
Intrusion detection systems, or IDS, notifies the right personnel when an intrusion is in progress. These systems are constantly monitoring, identifying, and sometimes fixing issues within a network.
Intrusion detection systems should be a component of a larger cybersecurity program in place. Although these mechanisms can tell businesses the intrusion source, the type of hack being performed, and where it is attacking, these mechanisms don’t always fix the problems or even tell personnel how to stop a threat.
There are different kinds of IDS, including:
● Perimeter IDS
● Stack-Based IDS
● VM-Based IDS
● Anomaly-Based IDS
● Signature-Based IDS
These different systems focus on different methods of detection and will focus on traffic that is considered malicious.
Risks of Poor Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is an absolute necessity for all businesses and organizations. Poor cybersecurity practices can lead to a plethora of problems for both employers and employees.
Negative Effect on Clients and Markets
Shortcomings in cybersecurity can result in damage to clients and overall markets. If a client or a particular market does not trust a company, their success is directly affected. It could be worse if security breaches reach the financially-sensitive levels of a business.
If a customer believes their information is not safe with a business, they will not purchase any products or services from them.
Compromised Inventory Management
Inventory management requires strict data logging and using multiple software. If this management system is compromised, the entire inventory of a company is also at risk. It can also change how a business orders supplies, tracks preferred products, and more. Including a simple tool like a barcode scanner can decrease manual mistakes and promote better cybersecurity.
Simply put, cybersecurity threats are costly. If a company’s network is consistently insecure, more money may have to go toward hackers demanding money for access to data and information that was stolen. This takes away a business’s ability and resources to grow properly.
Risk of Fines
Believe it or not, businesses can get fined for breaches in cybersecurity. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) details the specifications of what companies can get fined for, but it is known that breaches to personal data and sensitive information can get businesses in some serious trouble.
More Future Costs
Consistent threats to cybersecurity can add up. As new hackers and coding attackers emerge, so do more threats to a company’s network and data. Having a well-equipped cybersecurity system in place is cheaper in the long run.
Different Types of Cybersecurity Attacks
A cyber attack is meant to destroy, steal, reveal, or change information and data to a device, database, network, and/or infrastructure. There are plenty of cyber attacks a hacker can use, some of which include:
● Birthday Attack
● Password Attack
● Eavesdropping Attack
It is important to update cybersecurity systems constantly, as new types of cyberattacks are always being developed.
Let’s take a look at a few of the more common types of cyber attacks.
The act of hacking is used to reveal vulnerabilities in a computer system or network. Once these vulnerabilities are shown, a hacker can gain unauthorized access to information and data. One of the most common types of hacking is password hacking.
A device can also be hacked through network vulnerabilities, which means it isn’t enough to just protect devices. Hackers use their own computing devices to gain access to networks. They also come into categories based upon what they hack, like ethical hackers (white hats), script kiddies, grey hats, phreakers, and hacktivists.
Domain Name System (DNS) Spoofing
Domain name system spoofing, or DNS spoofing, is used by hackers to redirect online traffic. This will cause a victim to click on a link to a website and be sent to a different, but similar enough website. Once the victim tries to log into their account on this fake website, the hacker has access to confidential data and may be able to log into multiple accounts from the individual if they have used the same login on other websites.
Hackers can also use DNS spoofing to install different kinds of malware onto the victim’s device to gain access to more information over time.
Cross-site scripting, or XSS, is a type of hacking mechanism that inserts faulty coding scripts into a trusted website. This is done so hackers can discreetly get information from website visitors and potentially install malware onto other devices.
XSS attacks can also access data from the website itself and even change the way the HTML page is viewed. The end-user is not aware of this happening since the scripts are discreetly inserted into the website.
Secure Sockets Layer
A secure sockets layer and transport layer security, or TLS, is a security tool that encrypts internet connections. It is used to keep connections, and information passed through these connections, secure to improve confidentiality and guarantee availability to each receiving end. Hackers use this security tool to make their attacks and fraudulent scripts unseen to the victim. Security measures can identify attacks in plain text, but it can be very difficult to identify problems when they are hidden by the same tools used by the company that is being attacked.
Have an Interest in Cybersecurity?
This blog gave you a comprehensive view and knowledge about the different types of cyber threats, tactics, and equipment that cybersecurity specialists deal with on a day to day basis. If fast-paced and dynamic is what you’re in search of, opting for a cybersecurity career would help keep you occupied in a rapidly growing field. It is expected that the cybersecurity sector will have up to 3.5 million job opportunities by the year 2021.
The University of Central Florida Cyber Defense Professional Certificate Program offers the training and expertise one requires to get into the cybersecurity workforce and innumerable certification exams all within a year. Want to get in touch with our admission advisors? Give us a call for a phone appointment with them, as they can further guide with information about the program.