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What is Cybersecurity?


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An ideal cybersecurity approach should have multiple layers of protection across any potential access point or attack surface. This includes a protective layer for data, software, hardware and connected networks. In addition, all employees within an organization who have access to any of these endpoints should be trained on the proper compliance and security processes. Organizations also use tools such as unified threat management systems as another layer of protection against threats. These tools can detect, isolate and remediate potential threats and notify users if additional action is needed.

Why is cybersecurity important?

With the number of users, devices and programs in the modern enterprise increasing along with the amount of data -- much of which is sensitive or confidential -- cybersecurity is more important than ever. But the volume and sophistication of cyberattackers and attack techniques compound the problem even further.

Without a proper cybersecurity strategy in place -- and staff properly trained on security best practices -- malicious actors can bring an organization's operations to a screeching halt.

  • Application security.
  • Information or data security.
  • Network security.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity planning.
  • Operational security.
  • Cloud security.
  • Critical infrastructure security.
  • Physical security.
  • End-user education.

What are the benefits of cybersecurity?

The benefits of implementing and maintaining cybersecurity practices include the following:

  • Business protection against cyberattacks and data breaches.
  • Protection of data and networks.
  • Prevention of unauthorized user access.
  • Improved recovery time after a breach.
  • Protection for end users and endpoint devices.
  • Regulatory compliance.
  • Business continuity.
  • Improved confidence in the company's reputation and trust for developers, partners, customers, stakeholders and employees.

What are the different types of cybersecurity threats?

Malware is a form of malicious software in which any file or program can be used to harm a user's computer. Different types of malware include worms, viruses, Trojans and spyware.

Ransomware is a type of malware that involves an attacker locking the victim's computer system files -- typically through encryption -- and demanding a payment to decrypt and unlock them.

Social engineering is an attack that relies on human interaction. It tricks users into breaking security procedures to gain sensitive information that's typically protected.

Phishing is a form of social engineering in which fraudulent email or text messages that resemble those from reputable or known sources are sent. Often random attacks, the intent of phishing messages is to steal sensitive data, such as credit card or login information.

Spear phishing is a type of phishing that has an intended target user, organization or business.

Insider threats are security breaches or losses caused by humans -- for example, employees, contractors or customers. Insider threats can be malicious or negligent in nature.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are those in which multiple systems disrupt the traffic of a targeted system, such as a server, website or other network resource. By flooding the target with messages, connection requests or packets, DDoS attacks can slow the system or crash it, preventing legitimate traffic from using it.

Advanced persistent threats (APT) is a prolonged targeted attack in which an attacker infiltrates a network and remains undetected for long periods of time. The goal of an APT is to steal data.

Man-in-the-middle (MitM)) attacks are eavesdropping attacks that involve an attacker intercepting and relaying messages between two parties who believe they're communicating with each other.

SQL injection is a technique that attackers use to gain access to a web application database by adding a string of malicious SQL code to a database query. A SQL injection provides access to sensitive data and enables the attackers to execute malicious SQL statements.

Cybersecurity best practices

To minimize the chance of a cyberattack, it's important to implement and follow a set of best practices that includes the following:

Keep software up to date. Be sure to keep all software, including antivirus software, up to date. This ensures attackers can't take advantage of known vulnerabilities that software companies have already patched.

Change default usernames and passwords. Malicious actors might be able to easily guess default usernames and passwords on factory preset devices to gain access to a network.

Use strong passwords. Employees should select passwords that use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that will be difficult to hack using a brute-force attack or guessing. Employees should also change their passwords often.

Use multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA requires at least two identity components to gain access, which minimizes the chances of a malicious actor gaining access to a device or system.

Train employees on proper security awareness. This helps employees properly understand how seemingly harmless actions could leave a system vulnerable to attack. This should also include training on how to spot suspicious emails to avoid phishing attacks.

Implement an identity and access management system (IAM). IAM defines the roles and access privileges for each user in an organization, as well as the conditions under which they can access certain data.

Implement an attack surface management system. This process encompasses the continuous discovery, inventory, classification and monitoring of an organization's IT infrastructure. It ensures security covers all potentially exposed IT assets accessible from within an organization.

Use a firewall. Firewalls restrict unnecessary outbound traffic, which helps prevent access to potentially malicious content.

Implement a disaster recovery process. In the event of a successful cyberattack, a disaster recovery plan helps an organization maintain operations and restore mission-critical data.


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