Cybersecurity is a term referring to the various measures that are taken to secure and protect data and electronic information from damage or theft and protecting electronic data and devices from misuse. Cybersecurity can be applied to hardware, software, and other types of online information and is used to protect everything from your personal information to complex government systems. Cybersecurity measures involve preventing, detecting, and responding to hacking and cyberattacks.
It is becoming increasingly crucial to put cybersecurity measures in place as any information that is stored on electronic devices or in the cloud is vulnerable to hacking. Without the right measures in place, there is a higher risk of information getting into the wrong hands. However, the right strategies can be very effective at preventing information from damage or theft.
With the world now more reliant than ever before on computing, cloud-based storage, and electronic devices, cybersecurity is becoming more and more essential to both individuals and organizations.
Cybersecurity ranges from simple to very complex. There is a high chance that you might use some basic cybersecurity measures in your day-to-day life. Some examples of this might involve locking your personal devices with passwords, passcodes, or biometrics, using anti-virus programs on your computer and other devices, and even updating your smartphone and laptop’s operating systems on a regular basis.
When a system is either at risk of a cyberattack or has already come under attack, there are specific measures that might be taken depending on the type of attack. Encryption, for example, is a common method that can be used to prevent cyberattacks such as man-in-the-middle attacks by making it impossible for hackers to interpret data. Or, anti-virus programs may be used to make users aware of any malware that is hidden inside files or software programs, preventing users from downloading worms or viruses onto a device or network unknowingly.
To make sure that the protection and security of any system or device are ensured it’s crucial to ensure that the vulnerabilities and risks that are specific to the network or device are understood, along with understanding how these could be exploited by cybercriminals. Along with this, cybersecurity strategies and measures should also be constantly and consistently kept up to date and adjusted when necessary to ensure that they remain a step ahead of hackers, who will regularly change and adapt their methods to bypass new cybersecurity measures and strategies.
Types of Cyberattacks
Cyberattacks can have a wide-ranging impact on the individual or organization that it impacts. Financial loss, damage to a company’s reputation, and identity theft are just some of the main ways that a cyberattack can cause problems. For companies, cyberattacks can involve theft or leaking of private consumer data, which can have a negative impact on profitability in the future as customers may be more wary about using a brand that they do not trust to keep their data secure. There are several cyberattack types that both personal individuals and professionals need to be aware of. Some of the most common cyberattacks that you may encounter include:
Phishing is usually done by email and is one of the most common types of cyberattack. Thankfully, people are becoming wise to phishing attacks, which is making this social engineering method less effective. The idea behind phishing is to manipulate users into taking an action such as clicking on a link within an email by fooling them into thinking that it has come from a legitimate source.
For example, you may receive an email that appears to be from your bank asking you to log into your account, when in reality, it comes from a hacker who has now stolen your online banking login details. This is why it is so important to be vigilant when opening emails and never assume that your emails have come from the source that they appear to be from.
Malware is malicious software that is intended to cause damage to a device or network. There are several different malware types that you should be aware of including viruses, worms, and spyware. Malware is typically downloaded unknowingly by a user onto a device as it is hidden in legitimate files and software such as email attachments. Depending on the type of malware, once it is downloaded it may infect the device the entire network or sit idly in the background to spy on the user in the case of spyware. Keyloggers, for example, are a type of spyware that the victim is usually completely unaware of working in the background to record their keystrokes and relay this information to the hacker, who then has access to information such as login details, passwords, and credit card information.
Ransomware is a type of attack where data is effectively held hostage with a demand for a ransom to be paid. This type of attack is usually carried out by hackers on businesses and government agencies in order to extort funds. Ransomware is a particularly dangerous type of malware that is similar to a virus in that it will often be unknowingly downloaded onto the network by hiding it in a legitimate file or program. Once a ransomware attack is carried out, the victim will have access to their data removed and a demand for payment is sent. However, there is no guarantee that if the victim makes the payment to the hacker, that they will be given access to the data back or that the data is not going to be leaked.
These attacks have brought many companies to their knees, which is why it is important for businesses of all sizes to have strong ransomware protection strategies in place along with insurance against this type of attack. Learn more about these attacks and how to prevent ransomware in this post from St. Bonaventure University.
Denial of Service Attacks
In a denial of service or DoS attack, the device or system is flooded with requests that ultimately prevents the rightful user from being able to get access. A common way that this type of attack is carried out is when the hacker enters an incorrect password several times, resulting in the account becoming locked.
Who is Targeted By Cybercriminals?
Anybody is at risk of a cyberattack, as hackers do not discriminate when it comes to who they target. Both individuals and companies need to be aware of their level of risk when it comes to cybercrime. Because of the advancements in technology that we are seeing today, it has become increasingly important for companies in particular to work with cybersecurity professionals who have the knowledge and skills needed to help them reduce their risk level.
Larger organizations and government agencies might be the most profitable targets for hackers. However, do not let this fool you into thinking that as an individual or small business, you do not have to worry about cybercrime. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make when it comes to cybersecurity is believing that this is something that is unlikely to happen to them as their company is large enough.
Any type or amount of data is often a prize for hackers, so it’s important for everybody to stay vigilant. Small businesses in particular are often the biggest target for hackers as they know that it’s likely to be easier to exploit systems that do not have the funding that is available to the larger companies. Industries that may be more likely to experience cyberattacks and attempted attacks more so than others include financial services, government agencies, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, telecommunications, and energy.
How to Get into a Cybersecurity Career
With the risk of cyberattacks only growing around the world, you are probably not surprised to hear that the demand for good cybersecurity professionals is on the rise. There are lots of reasons to consider getting into a career in cybersecurity including the huge demand, excellent salaries, and the chance to work in a variety of different industries and sectors. People who have previous experience of working in IT tend to have the skills that are required to do well in a career in cybersecurity.
To succeed in this career, you will need to have a solid knowledge of computer science fundamentals along with a range of soft skills including creativity, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail. Proficiency in a programming language is often required to work in a cybersecurity role. If you know how to execute cyberattacks but don’t want a career on the wrong side as a hacker, then you have a set of skills that can be very useful in ethical hacking and testing systems for vulnerabilities that cybercriminals will look to exploit.
Previous IT experience is not always required to work in cybersecurity. The demand is so high that there are lots of companies willing to train professionals from the ground up, with various professional certifications and even employer-funded degree programs to help you get your career off the ground.
Cybersecurity Skills You Will Need
Along with a variety of soft skills including problem-solving, attention to detail, and communication skills, you will also need to work on developing a range of technical skills to be successful in your cybersecurity career. There are several options to consider when it comes to how you will develop these skills, including relevant degree programs in cybersecurity or computer science, coding bootcamps, professional certifications, or learning on the job. Some of the most important technical skills you will need to develop if you want a successful career as a cybersecurity professional include:
Information assurance is important for making sure that sensitive data is processed, stored, transmitted, and used securely. It involves continued risk assessments of pre-established risk management plans along with regular updates. Developing information assurance skills is crucial for cybersecurity professionals to ensure that information is always readily available, authentic, and confidential.
This skill involves becoming proficient in a wide range of methods that are related to the assessment, prevention, detection, monitoring, and response to various cyber threats that may be changing all the time. Many companies will have a dedicated security operations team that are in charge of monitoring the level of risk, with many career options to consider for those who are skilled in this area.
While it is not always essential for all cybersecurity careers, becoming skilled in cryptography can help you take your career further. This is an important skill that is used by cybersecurity teams to prevent unauthorized access to data, protect the confidentiality of the data, and make sure that incoming data sources are authenticated. Cryptography is typically used to ensure that sensitive data is protected and does not end up in the wrong hands. This is done through developing new cryptographic algorithms and managing cryptographic keys. Regular assessments are also required to make sure that data continues to be encrypted securely.
Risk Management and Assessment
Both technical and non-technical processes will usually require some level of risk management and assessment. In the world of cybersecurity, it involves identifying threats, determining the level of risk that they pose, and analyzing potential vulnerabilities in order to make changes and improvements where needed. This skill is crucial in almost every cybersecurity career to ensure that vulnerabilities are detected quickly and dealt with before they pose a tangible threat to the organization.
One example of how this is used by cybersecurity professionals is working with companies to detect vulnerabilities that could be exploited and scoring the system based on how easy it could be for hackers to access it.
There are several different threat categories that you will need to be familiar with such as disruption of service, malicious unauthorized access, information misuse, and data breach risk.
Cybersecurity has become a hugely important factor for both individuals and organizations to be aware of today. As more data is collected and stored both electronically and online, organizations need to be prepared for the real threat of cyberattacks, which is why the demand for cybersecurity professionals is only growing.