The term “cyber” comes from cyberspace, which refers to all electronic information that exists in digital form. This includes data stored on hard drives, memory cards, flash drives, and other storage devices. The field of cybersecurity is constantly evolving, and so are the threats it faces. This means that cybersecurity professionals must remain aware of the latest technologies and how they can be used maliciously. For example, a new software vulnerability may be discovered that could allow an attacker to take over your computer.
Cybersecurity professionals must also keep up with new developments in technology that can help protect systems from attack. New methods for detecting attacks or preventing them together are being developed all the time as researchers study ways to reduce vulnerabilities in existing systems or create entirely new ones
Cybersecurity is the process of securing an organization’s network against the malicious activity such as hacking, spamming, phishing, and denial of service attacks. It is a fast-changing field that requires continuous learning as new cyber threats emerge. New tools and techniques are needed to protect against these threats, so professionals need to develop their skills in order to stay ahead of the game.
Explain why it’s important.
Cybersecurity is essential because hackers can cause significant damage to organizations by stealing data, disrupting operations, or even causing physical harm. Hackers can also use malware to steal personal information, disrupt business operations, or destroy company assets. Cybersecurity professionals play an important role in safeguarding digital assets because they are tasked with ensuring that data is not lost or stolen through malicious hacking or other means. This can be done through many different methods: some cybersecurity specialists focus on building secure networks by designing firewalls and intrusion detection systems; others specialize in engineering new security software; still, others develop strategies around securing data centers or developing processes for managing risk within their organizations (e.g., taking inventory of all devices connected to your systems). In addition, there are many specialized jobs within cybersecurity such as forensic specialists who investigate cybercrimes, strategists who help organizations create plans for responding to cyberattacks, and analysts who monitor network activity so that potential problems can be identified before they occur.
Describe how it works.
A cybersecurity system consists of three main parts: prevention, detection, and response. Prevention includes things such as firewalls, antivirus software, and other security measures designed to prevent malicious activity. Detection refers to monitoring network traffic and identifying suspicious activities. Finally, response means taking steps to mitigate any damage caused by an attack.
Identify some common threats.
There are many different kinds of threats to consider when thinking about cybersecurity. These include viruses, worms, spyware, phishing emails, denial of service attacks, and more.
Discuss what organizations need to do to protect themselves.
Organizations must take steps to prevent cyberattacks by implementing security measures such as firewalls, antivirus software, and other tools. They should also educate employees about how to avoid being tricked into giving up personal data.
Types of cyber threats
The threats countered by cyber-security are three-fold:
- Cybercrime includes single actors or groups targeting systems for financial gain or to cause disruption.
- Cyber-attack often involves politically motivated information gathering.
- Cyberterrorism is intended to undermine electronic systems to cause panic or fear.
So, how do malicious actors gain control of computer systems? Here are some common methods used to threaten cyber-security:
Malware means malicious software. One of the most common cyber threats, malware is software that a cybercriminal or hacker has created to disrupt or damage a legitimate user’s computer. Often spread via an unsolicited email attachment or legitimate-looking download, malware may be used by cybercriminals to make money or in politically motivated cyber-attacks.
There are a number of different types of malware, including:
- Virus: A self-replicating program that attaches itself to clean files and spreads throughout a computer system, infecting files with malicious code.
- Trojans: A type of malware that is disguised as legitimate software. Cybercriminals trick users into uploading Trojans onto their computers where they cause damage or collect data.
- Spyware: A program that secretly records what a user does, so that cybercriminals can make use of this information. For example, spyware could capture credit card details.
- Ransomware: Malware that locks down a user’s files and data, with the threat of erasing it unless a ransom is paid.
- Adware: Advertising software that can be used to spread malware.
- Botnets: Networks of malware-infected computers which cybercriminals use to perform tasks online without the user’s permission.
An SQL (structured language query) injection is a type of cyber-attack used to take control of and steal data from a database. Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in data-driven applications to insert malicious code into a database via a malicious SQL statement. This gives them access to the sensitive information contained in the database.
Phishing is when cybercriminals target victims with emails that appear to be from a legitimate company asking for sensitive information. Phishing attacks are often used to dupe people into handing over credit card data and other personal information.
A man-in-the-middle attack is a type of cyber threat where a cybercriminal intercepts communication between two individuals in order to steal data. For example, on an unsecured WiFi network, an attacker could intercept data being passed from the victim’s device and the network.
A denial-of-service attack is where cybercriminals prevent a computer system from fulfilling legitimate requests by overwhelming the networks and servers with traffic. This renders the system unusable, preventing an organization from carrying out vital functions.
Latest cyber threats
What are the latest cyber threats that individuals and organizations need to guard against? Here are some of the most recent cyber threats that the U.K., U.S., and Australian governments have reported on.
In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) charged the leader of an organized cyber-criminal group for their part in a global Dridex malware attack. This malicious campaign affected the public, government, infrastructure, and businesses worldwide.
Dridex is a financial trojan with a range of capabilities. Affecting victims since 2014, it infects computers through phishing emails or existing malware. Capable of stealing passwords, banking details, and personal data which can be used in fraudulent transactions, it has caused massive financial losses amounting to hundreds of millions.
In response to the Dridex attacks, the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre advises the public to “ensure devices are patched, anti-virus is turned on and up to date, and files are backed up”.
In February 2020, the FBI warned U.S. citizens to be aware of confidence fraud that cybercriminals commit using dating sites, chat rooms, and apps. Perpetrators take advantage of people seeking new partners, duping victims into giving away personal data.
The FBI reports that romance cyber threats affected 114 victims in New Mexico in 2019, with financial losses amounting to $1.6 million.
In late 2019, The Australian Cyber Security Centre warned national organizations about a widespread global cyber threat from Emotet malware.
Emotet is a sophisticated trojan that can steal data and also load other malware. Emotet thrives on unsophisticated passwords: a reminder of the importance of creating a secure password to guard against cyber threats.
End-user protection or endpoint security is a crucial aspect of cyber security. After all, it is often an individual (the end-user) who accidentally uploads malware or another form of cyber threat to their desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
So, how do cyber-security measures protect end users and systems? First, cyber security relies on cryptographic protocols to encrypt emails, files, and other critical data. This not only protects information in transit but also guards against loss or theft.
In addition, end-user security software scans computers for pieces of malicious code, quarantines this code, and then removes it from the machine. Security programs can even detect and remove malicious code hidden in primary boot record and are designed to encrypt or wipe data from a computer’s hard drive.
Electronic security protocols also focus on real-time malware detection. Many use heuristic and behavioral analysis to monitor the behavior of a program and its code to defend against viruses or Trojans that change their shape with each execution (polymorphic and metamorphic malware). Security programs can confine potentially malicious programs to a virtual bubble separate from a user’s network to analyze their behavior and learn how to better detect new infections.
Security programs continue to evolve new defenses as cyber-security professionals identify new threats and new ways to combat them. To make the most of end-user security software, employees need to be educated about how to use it. Crucially, keeping it running and updating it frequently ensures that it can protect users against the latest cyber threats.
Cyber safety tips – protect yourself against cyberattacks
How can businesses and individuals guard against cyber threats? Here are our top cyber safety tips:
- Update your software and operating system: This means you benefit from the latest security patches.
- Use anti-virus software: Security solutions like Sophos or Fortinet will detect and removes threats. Keep your software updated for the best level of protection.
- Use strong passwords: Ensure your passwords are not easily guessable.
- Do not open email attachments from unknown senders: These could be infected with malware.
- Do not click on links in emails from unknown senders or unfamiliar websites: This is a common way that malware is spread.
- Avoid using insecure WiFi networks in public places: Unsecure networks leave you vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.