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Cybersecurity has become one of the essential risk management practices for companies, teams, and individuals. Much more than just securing your systems, cybersecurity helps you ensure that your proprietary data is safeguarded and your operations are running without any downtime.

At the individual level, effective cybersecurity would ensure that your privacy is maintained, your financial information is not leaked, and you can operate at regular levels of productivity.

Since it is so critical, more businesses have started paying attention to it. Gartner predicted that cybersecurity spending would cross the threshold of $133.7 billion by the year 2022. That goes to show the fact that cybersecurity has become a priority for businesses.

While enterprises can afford cybersecurity specialists, as an individual with a set of computers, laptops, phones, and tablets, consistently connected with the internet, you have to work on understanding cybersecurity, the potential threats in the space, and how you can tackle these threats.

This post will help you understand what is exactly covered under the paradigm of cybersecurity. Since you will come across several definitions covering cybersecurity, IT Security, Network Security, and digital security, understanding the difference will help you get objectivity.

You will then see the significant components of cybersecurity, along with understanding why cybersecurity is so essential for you as an individual or a business operator. Finally, you will witness the most common threats in the area of cybersecurity and some standard methods to avoid them.

What is Cybersecurity?

As per the definitions put out by Norton USA, Kaspersky, and Cisco, the easiest way to define cybersecurity would be this – it is the systematic process of securing your systems, applications, and data from potential cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks can include a wide range of attacks orchestrated by individuals, organizations, or even agencies, trying to breach your system’s integrity. In most of the cases, cyberattacks are motivated by financial payoffs, and in other cases, they are targeted towards your system to get access to some secured information.

Cybersecurity is a broad field that encompasses IT Security, Network Security, and Software Security practices. By combining all the areas and clubbing them, you get a better understanding of the potential threats and best-practices that can help you stay secure.

What Is Cybersecurity All About?

The very purpose of cybersecurity is to keep the integrity of your systems, network, application, and data intact. To achieve this, you will be taking precautionary, defensive, and corrective measures throughout your system’s life cycle.

The best way to understand what all is covered in the paradigm of cybersecurity would be by understanding each component that itself can be considered a standalone area of discussion:

Network Security 

This is the most comprehensive form of security management. Instead of looking at each device or data-point, you try to understand how information flows through a network. Based on that, assessments are made on how the network of computers, phones, servers, and applications can be secured.

Data Security

Here, the focus shifts from the network to what is being transmitted in the network. If you are aware of the data being shared, how it is being shared, and at what time it is being shared, you can be better prepared to intervene just when the information is most vulnerable. It also takes a more focused approach since you do not focus on the entire network but only on the data in different nodes.

Application-Level Security

This is a combination of the data and network security, as your goal is to secure an application and its users. The focus comes to how you keep the data necessary for the application and generated within the application secured. You can take various encryption approaches to ensure the app-level data remains intact.

Cloud Security

As the name suggests the focus is on securing all the data stored on the cloud infrastructure. The data might be pertinent to different companies, individuals, and even applications. Hence, it is critical to ensure that cloud security aligns with the measures taken at the network, application, and individual system level.

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Authorization Engineering

This is a simple but effective way to secure information on a network. The authorization is available only to the subset of the most trustworthy IP and the ones who would need the data frequently. The more sensitive the information, the smaller the list of authorized personnel becomes. Blocking certain websites on your child’s computer is also a variant of authorization engineering.

Backup, System Reset, and Recovery

This comes on the defensive and corrective scale of measures. Backups help you ensure that the critical data is maintained, no matter what happens to the central system. Rule-based approaches are taken for backup, which creates a backup copy of the system at a fixed interval or every time after a specific action is performed.

System Reset is used in conjunction with backups to ensure that the system returns to its factory form. All the malicious applications and corrupt files can hence be eradicated, without losing progress by using backup and System Reset.

Recovery is the trickiest of the three areas. It is generally put to use after a system has been attacked, and the antivirus, firewall, and other measures have been unable to stop the attack. Recovery is primarily evaluated in percentages. For instance, if the entire system was well-engineered, you might be able to recover 90% of the data after an incident; if there were more vulnerabilities than you knew about, you might not be able to recover any data.

Security Awareness

Securing just the systems is often not enough. Eventually, people will use these systems, and they can often override the systems’ set rules for their convenience. To ensure that their decision making is not making the system more vulnerable, timely security awareness tests are conducted. This is just to understand the existing gaps in security knowledge. These gaps are then filled with training and workshops.

The Importance Of Cyber Security

The more straightforward answer would be that cybersecurity is essential because:

  1. It protects your personal and proprietary data.
  2. Saves the cost of recovering and re-establishing the system after an attack.
  3. Ensures that your system does not witness any downtime, and work is not hindered.
  4. Protects your identity from being stolen and misused.
  5. It creates a safe ecosystem for sharing information without having to worry about potential threats. Increased information sharing leads to more collaboration.
  6. identify and secure the system’s threats, which will improve your customer’s experience and might even help your business stay competitive in the marketplace.
  7. For major corporations, data leaks also lead to PR disasters. Hence, cybersecurity has a direct impact on the company’s perceived image.

Cybersecurity’s importance can be understood only by evaluating the impact of cyberattacks:

  1. Cyberattacks are Becoming More Frequent University of Maryland’s research shows that cyberattacks are being conducted every 39 seconds, cross the globe. The average comes to approximately 2250 attacks in a day.
  2. Assessing and Rectifying Cyberattacks is a Long Process IBM’s research showed that it takes about 7 months to identify a security breach and about 11 months to rectify it.
  3. Security Breaches are Expensive As per data published by Security Intelligence, a security breach costs about $3.92 million (approximately ₹30 crores) to an enterprise. The cost of a security breach can be anywhere between $100,000 (Uber, 2016) to about $4 billion (Equifax, 2017).

The data given here shows that it will always be cheaper to have cybersecurity measures installed and updated, rather than taking corrective actions after a cyberattack has been witnessed. Hence, the critical reason why cybersecurity measures are essential is that it is the most cost-effective and reasonable way to deal with cyberattacks.

What are the Common Types of Cyber Threats?

what is cybersecurity

Norton USA has created a framework to classify cyber threats. To make it more intuitive using research, here is how you can evaluate the entire system of cyber threats:

Types of Cyber Threats:

  1. Attacking System Integrity The attacker tries to break all the firewalls and security systems to get access to your personal data. Then, the data is made public in a way that stains your or your company’s public perception.
  2. Attacking System Availability The attacker tries to populate the system with duplicate requests and makes it inaccessible for commonly used features. This is done with the malicious intent to either stop a company from performing its daily operations or for blocking a particular set of features where the resources are limited.
  3. Attacking Privacy and Secrecy One of the most common threats, this type of cyberattack is orchestrated with the sole purpose of accessing your personal and private information. This might be used later to solicit money or to duplicate the information and access your finances. In enterprise security, this might be used to sabotage a competitor or to get access to proprietary information.
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Methods of Executing Cyber Threats:

  1. Network Infiltration A person or system unauthorized to access the network and its data comes on the network and corrupts confidential files.
  2. Social Engineering Your employees, team-members, or even family-member, are tricked into sharing some information.
  3. Malware and Ransomware Once your system has been infiltrated, you are asked to pay a certain amount to the attacker, or the attacker would not let your system function. These attacks are targeted towards banks, educational institutions, and companies. Lately, even individuals are experiencing such threats.

Cyber Safety Tips

Here is a checklist of best practices you can use to ensure your systems remain secure:

  1. Use and Updated Licensed Hardware and Software This hardware and software include the computer peripherals you use and the software that runs on it. Make sure all the applications are verified by the app store. And read the documentation before giving access to applications.
  2. Install Comprehensive Security Systems and Hire a Professional For an individual system, licensed software with added security features would often be enough. For businesses, you cannot have your IT team to take care of all the security. You should hire a professional or a consultant who can ensure your systems are secure round the clock.
  3. Test the System Frequently This is only for businesses but can be used in several contexts. Make sure your systems are going through stress-testing. You can take the help of a recognized ethical hacker and get to know the possible vulnerabilities in your system.
  4. Create a Rule-Based Approach to Backups No matter how secure your system is, it can still get compromised with a small error. Hence, make sure you have a systematic approach to backups.
  5. Train Your Employees and Family Members In order to avoid threats brought on by social engineering, give your employees and family members adequate security training. The training should be continual, with sessions organized frequently with updated content.
  6. Do Not Engage in Piracy. While it may seem convenient to simply download a file of the internet, it can serve as a channel for inviting attacks onto your system. Most websites that make such content available don’t have sophisticated identity verification systems or security systems. You may end up downloading a malicious file without your knowledge.
  7. Avoid Public WiFi Connections Public WiFi connections available in airports are more vulnerable to security threats. Use VPNs for browsing through these networks, if necessary. Generally, it is best to avoid engaging with the system since it can expose your IP address easily.
  8. Update Passwords Frequently Make sure all your passwords are updated at regular intervals, are not repeated by any chance, and are not shared with anyone you know and also follow Social Networking Hygiene tips.
  9. Make Confidential Information Authorization Protocols Robust Authorization Rules should be made more comprehensive and installed in conjunction with passwords and identity verification. Even then, these rules should be updated frequently.

In Conclusion

The rise of cyberattacks can seem overwhelming if you frequently work with data. However, you don’t have to be a professional for stopping these attacks. You should be aware of your digital footprints and make sure you are not putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Keep your security systems and software updated, never engage in piracy, and make sure your passwords are strong & updated. Take care of these, and your system will be secured from most of the cyber attacks conducted even by professionals.

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