Cyber security is the practice of protecting technological systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks, damage, or unauthorized access. These attacks focus on accessing, changing, or otherwise destroying important information, extorting money from users or organizations, and even disrupting standard business procedures. Creating and maintaining efficient cyber security measures is difficult, because globally, there are more devices than people – and attackers are increasingly skilled at adapting to known security measures.
How Cyber Security Works
An effective cyber security plan will have defined layers of protection spread across computers, networks, programs, devices, and data, all working in coordination to ensure the safety of the systems they’re protecting. At a business level, the people, technology, and infrastructure must all communicate with one another to guarantee a strong defense against possible attacks.
- People: Users need to understand data security principles, such as picking secure passwords, avoiding suspicious attachments in messaging, and maintaining a thorough backup of their data.
- Infrastructure: Companies must have a defined framework for how to confront and fix cyber attacks. It should be built around protecting critical systems, detecting and identifying threats and initiating a proper response, and swift recovery in the event of a successful cyber attack.
- Vulnerabilities: Three major areas of any network must be protected: endpoint devices (such as computers and routers) networks, and the cloud.
- Technology: There are a number of vital technologies purposefully designed to protect these systems: next-generation firewalls, email security solutions, DNS filtering, and antivirus software.
Cyber Security Threat Types
Cyber security systems are created to protect against numerous threat vectors, including:
- Ransomware: A malicious form of software. Ransomware is built to extort money from its victims by blocking access to files, or to a computer system, until a ransom is paid within a given timeframe. The most troubling part is that paying the ransom does not guarantee that the users files will be returned.
- Malware: A general system-penetrating software designed to gain unauthorized access to a computer.
- Social engineering: A tactic used to persuade users to reveal critical information, such as financial logins or personal data. Social engineering is often used in coordination with another attack method to increase its efficacy.
- Phishing: The practice of creating false emails or websites so that they appear legitimate to unsuspecting users. The goal is to steal important information like credit card numbers or login information.
Global Cyber Security
There are three major forms of cyber threats relevant to global security today:
- Cyber terrorism: The use of information technology by terrorist groups to further an ideological or political agenda. This can result in attacks on networks, computer systems, or even telecommunications.
- Cyber warfare: When nation states use information technology to penetrate other nations’ networks to cause damage or obtain sensitive information. In the U.S. and other nations, cyber warfare has been acknowledged as the fifth domain of warfare (following land, sea, air and space). A cyber warfare attack is frequently perpetrated by skilled hackers, and can intrude into networks to compromise valuable data, degrade communications, impair such infrastructural services as transportation and medical services, or interrupt commerce.
- Cyber espionage: Using information technology to secure sensitive intel without permission from the holding party. Cyber espionage is used to gain strategic, economic, or political advantage, and is conducted using a variety of tools, including malware and brute-force cracking techniques.
Why Cyber Security is Important
The main purpose of cyber security is to protect information and systems from major cyber threats. Unfortunately, criminals have learned to launch sophisticated attacks at increasingly lower costs. As a result, keeping pace with newer cyber attack methods can be a daunting task.
Organizations and governments have taken a reactive approach to combating cyber threats, combining individual security technologies, one on top of another, to protect their networks and the valuable data within them. As cyber threats have grown, the systems required to effectively deter attacks have adjusted to keep pace. With global cyber crime costs rising above a billions dollars annually, it’s important to maintain a secure network at all times.
In today’s connected world, everyone from single users to multi-national corporations need advanced cyber defense programs. Individual users can suffer greatly from a cyber security attack. They risk identity theft, extortion, or total data erasure. This fallout of these attacks at a national level is even greater. Local and global infrastructure is built on connected technology, and guaranteeing the security of this network is essential for the productivity and safety of an always online society.