Today’s generation lives on the internet, and the information that reaches securely to our computer without any misinterpretation has been made possible by cyber security. Through cyber security, programs systems, networks are protected from digital attacks which target sensitive information such as personal information. Extortion of money or disrupting business functioning is done through cyber attacks. 

Why is cybersecurity needed?

Living in a digital world, most of the transactions including, hotel room booking, ordering dinner, or booking a cab, is constantly performed using the internet. This generates data stored in a huge data center termed as cloud and can be accessed online. 

Due to the availability of various access points, constant traffic flow, public IP addresses, and tons of data to exploit, hackers stand an excellent chance to exploit the vulnerability and steal the data. To achieve this, they use different malware which can bypass virus scans and firewalls. For stopping these malicious digital attacks, cyber security is an essential requirement. 

Common types of cyber-attacks:

  1. General malware- It includes a variety of cyber threats like trojans and viruses. It is a code with malicious content that has the potential to destroy the data on the computer.
  2. Phishing- This is sent by email as a request for data from a trusted third party. Users are asked to click on a link sent in the email. It isn’t easy to recognize if the sender is from a legitimate or false source most of the time. This is similar to spam but is more harmful comparatively as it involves compromising confidential information.
  3. Password attack- A third party trying to gain access to the system by tracking a user’s password.
  4. DDOS- Distributed denial of service or DDOS refers to an attack whose focus is on stopping the network’s service. The high volume of data is sent on the network, resulting in overloading and finally preventing functioning.
  5. Man-in-the-middle- This refers to online information exchange. MIM attack is used to obtain information from the end-user as well as the entity. For example, in banking online, the man in the middle will communicate with you, impersonating a person from Bank and communicate with the bank, impersonating you, thus collecting information from both parties. 
  6. Drive-by downloads- Using malware, a program is downloaded to a user’s system. This program is used to steal the data.
  7. Mal-advertising- On clicking on an affected AD, a malicious code gets downloaded on the computer. 
  8. Rogue Software- This malware looks like legitimate security software required to keep the system safe but acts otherwise.

Hence, the internet is not a safe place for individuals as well as large organizations. Big companies such as eBay, Adobe, and Evernote have undergone critical cyber-attacks despite having high-level security measures to protect their data. More prominent organizations are a victim of cyber-attack and are constantly targeted.

To safeguard our data, there should be a protocol to protect us from cyber-attacks. This is called cyber security. In a computing context, security comprises physical security and cyber security. Both are used by organizations to protect from unauthorized access to their data and critical systems. Information security in an organization is designed to maintain the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of data. This forms the subset of cyber security.  

How does cybersecurity work?

Cyber security works on protecting the data against the below three activities:

  1. Unauthorized modification
  2. Unauthorized deletion
  3. Unauthorized access

The three main principles that act as a security pillar for both small and big organizations are confidentiality, integrity, and data availability.

Confidentiality– Same as privacy. It is designed to safeguard information from reaching the wrong people. Access is restricted to users who are not supposed to view the data. It is common for data to be categorized depending on the type of damage that can occur if it gets in the hand of unintended people and stringent measures to be taken to safeguard the same. Training is given to employees to safeguard these documents. This includes training on security risks associated with the confidential document, risk factors, password-related threats, password-related best practices, and social engineering methods to educate the users on how to prevent confidential data.

Integrity– Integrity refers to maintaining the accuracy and trustworthiness of data in its complete life cycle. Data must not be changed during transit, and steps must be taken to ensure that it remains unaltered by unauthorized people. File permissions, user access controls, and version controls are taken care of to prevent erroneous changes or accidental deletion of legitimate users. Using checksums or cryptographic checksums are steps to detect any changes in the data, and verification of integrity due to unforeseen events is set in place. We must also ensure that backup is available to restore the data to its original state.

Availability– Availability is ensured by regularly maintaining the hardware with periodic hardware checks and taking care of the operating system, which is free of any software-related issues. It is up to date with all the current features. Communication bandwidth should be adequate to prevent bottlenecks. Redundancy, backup availability, and failover cluster availability are essential to safeguard the system from serious hardware issues. Disaster recovery is essential during worst-case scenarios. Thus, safeguarding from data loss or interruption in the connection. A backup copy can be stored in a geographically isolated location, having fire and waterproofing. Firewalls and proxy servers will be used to help protect data from malicious attacks due to DDOS attacks or network intrusions. 

Steps to take to protect data when attacked by cyber:

  1. Identify– Identify the kind of attack our organization has been subjected to.
  2. Analyze and Evaluate– Analyse and evaluate the type and amount of data that has been compromised. 
  3. Treat– Work on resolving the issue by using the correct treatment so that the organization can come back to its original state with the least data loss or breach.

The above steps are taken by calculating the below three factors:

Vulnerability– It is a weakness or a known issue of an asset or data that an attacker can exploit. In terms of Cyber security, it is referred to as a hardware or a software defect that has been delayed in fixing and thus prone to getting damaged due to cyber-attack. For example, delay in renewing system license, delay in erasing user access who has left the organization. A regular vulnerability test is required to safeguard the systems and data. By this, weak points can be identified, and strategies are placed to fix them promptly. Organizations can also have a checklist with periodic follow-ups.

Threat– It is an event that can harm the data. Threats can be natural like floods or tornados, intentional like spyware, malware, and unintentional threats to employees, accessing wrong information by mistake. Threat assessment techniques are used to understand the severity of the threat. Though most threats are not in human control to suppress, it is essential to take appropriate steps to assess the threats regularly. Employees should be educated on cyber security to be prepared for any upcoming threats by providing cyber security training for employees. They should keep in touch with the current update on cyber security by subscribing to related blogs and podcasts. Regular threat assessment must be performed to protect the system and data. A penetration test can be conducted at periodic intervals. This involves creating a model of real-world threats, discovering vulnerabilities, and documenting the steps to resolve them.

Risk– Risk refers to the potential loss due to a threat caused by the vulnerability. Examples of risks include financial loss, loss of privacy, company reputation, legal implications, etc. Risk management is an essential part of cyber security. The risk assessment framework is designed and assessed at periodic frequencies, keeping in mind the important points to be addressed and prioritized during the data breaches. Stakeholders and business partners must be kept in mind during this process.

Final Thought:

Cybercrime is a global problem posing a threat to security, including banks, government, and private organizations. It is essential to understand and follow the steps mentioned above and also use advanced cyber security protocols to prevent individuals and organizations from huge data loss and renowned multinational companies from the negative headlines. To further understand cybersecurity and get certified in this profession, you can enroll in cyber security  program offered by platforms such as Great Learning.

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.