Cybersecurity is the art of protecting devices, networks, and data from unauthorized access. It is the first line of defense against cybercrime and it protects confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. Modern society has created a massive dependency on technology. This reliance accounts for the ever-growing surge in digital data creation. A great example of this surge can be found within governments. Worldwide, there has been a great push by government organisations towards creating digital records. These government records are transmitted over internal networks and across the internet at large. Any breach of these records could have devastating consequences on governments and private citizens. The same applies to small businesses, enterprises, and NGOs.
If a system has successfully implemented cybersecurity measures, it means it has multiple layers of protection on its computers, programs, and networks. These layers could include network security, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), cloud security and the likes. Cybersecurity is important because everyone benefits from good cyber defense programs that involve all processes and practices that will defend a network, its data and nodes from unauthorized access or manipulation. The most common cyber defense activities will include installing or maintaining hardware and software infrastructure that detects hackers, analyzes, identifies and patches system vulnerabilities; real-time implementation of solutions aimed at diffusing zero-hour attacks; and recovering from partially or fully successful cyber attacks.
Attacks can take on various forms, such as identity theft, the loss of important data, all the way to extortion attempts. The infrastructure that we rely on every day, such as hospitals, power plants, and financial services, is also susceptible to attacks. It is very important to keep these organizations secure, so they can keep our society running without interruptions.
There are many different kinds of cybersecurity threats with various degrees of impact, however, a few of the most broadly known are:
The first is phishing, known also as the most common cyber attack - these are fraudulent emails we receive that resemble emails from trustworthy sources. Their goal is usually to steal sensitive data like login credentials and credit card numbers from companies or individuals.
Second is ransomware - malicious software that can block files or computer systems until a bribe is paid. You should be very careful with ransomware and keep in mind that paying the bribe does not guarantee the system will be restored or the files recovered.
Third is Malware - software that is designed to gain unauthorized access and possibly damage your computer. Malware is a malicious software program that acts against the interest of the user. It could be a simple computer worm, trojan or a more complex computer virus.Malware could also affect the devices connected to the original malware device.
Last but not least on our list is Social Engineering - a tactic that is used by the attacker to trick you into revealing your confidential information. The attacker can demand a monetary payment or get access to your sensitive information. For instance:
- Hackers can attack websites by infecting them with malicious code. When you visit these sites it carries the code back to your corporate systems and creates a vulnerability. The security that protects your systems and data is avoided by hackers since they are waiting for you to make the first move.
- There is also a so-called pretex attack, where a hacker builds trust by setting up social accounts and digital identities. They present themselves as an expert in a certain industry, an employee of some company or even a friend or family member. Since you cannot see the person on the other side, they can bypass all your social defenses before you realize they are not who they say they are.
Social engineering could be combined with any of the above-mentioned threads to make you click on malicious links or downloaded malware. It could also make you trust its sources of malicious content.
Since cyber-attacks are happening all the time in our modern tech world, you need to be extra vigilant and take some basic precautions to prevent becoming a victim of such attacks. Using strong passwords, keeping your software updated, managing your social media settings (keep your personal information private), talking to your children about the internet and never clicking on links or opening attachments from suspicious emails, can help you protect yourself from cybercrimes. If you are asked to provide personal information via email, you can contact the company directly to verify the request. You should also pay attention to the URLs of the websites you visit. Malicious websites can also use a variation in common spelling or a different domain extension. The most important thing is to stay aware of the danger that exists on the web.
Stay alert, stay safe.