As the reliance on technology has evolved, the term cyber security has become far more commonplace in recent years.
Unfortunately as many are aware, malicious attacks by cybercriminals, hackers and spammers are consistently on the rise.
Thus, the importance of cyber security can never be emphasised strongly enough.
In the following chapters, we outline what cyber security means and how it impacts every aspect of our daily lives.
What is Cyber Security?
Cyber security is the term used to describe protective methods against phishing schemes, identity theft, data breaches, and ransomware.
Hence, cyber security is all about defending devices and systems from such malicious electronic attacks.
Cyber security may seem to be rather complicated, especially since the catch-all term describes the numerous processes of being protected against all kinds of cybercrimes.
Hence, we will attempt to delve more in detail in this subject to offer a better understanding of what cyber security involves.
As we’re living in a world where technology has become even more prevalent in day to day life, the importance of cybersecurity is even more critical.
Why is Cyber Security Important?
In the modern world, cyber security has become of critical importance.
A single security breach could cost a business not only financially, but also hugely in terms of reputation and trust.
Imagine how many customers would be impacted in such a scenario, and how they would feel about your company if a serious data breach were to take place?
While there’s a great deal of positive aspects coming from the reliance on technology, including convenience, instant access to information and automation, we also need to face the fact that there’s also inherent risks arising from the cyber criminals who try to take advantage of the situation.
There’s been a steady rise in cyber crime in recent years, and thus there’s no denying that investing in robust cyber security systems and protocols is essential.
How Serious is the Cybercrime Threat?
Unless you’ve been a victim of cybercrime, most people would not fully comprehend the real and present danger cybercrime presents.
For instance, you’ll probably be amazed to discover that cybercrime is estimated to cost the global economy somewhere in the region of £8.5 trillion annually by the year 2025.
This staggering fact has been published in the Cybercrime Magazine following extensive research on this subject.
Indeed, globally cybercrime costs are predicted to increase by around 15% per annum over the next four years.
Moreover, if you were to take into consideration that cryptocurrency is becoming even more popular, cybercriminals will definitely be making the most out of it.
One should also take into account that remote working has become more commonplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has posed more threats as well.
Why is Cybercrime Increasing?
Unfortunately, cyber attacks are most certainly on the rise.
With the greater reliance on information technology and the internet, cyber criminals are finding more opportunities to conduct criminal activities.
Attackers are coming up with new ways to circumvent data security controls and breach systems.
Since cloud services are becoming increasingly popular, there’s an even bigger possibility for cyber criminals to gain access to sensitive information which are stored on cloud storage services.
This becomes easier if there’s poor cloud service security measures in place.
Furthermore, more and more people are relying on smartphones to carry out sensitive transactions.
It’s crucial to ensure that a secure, encrypted connection is used when this is done.
Indeed, the proliferation of mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) are making it even easier for cyber criminals to carry out successful crimes.
Cyber criminals are consistently becoming more sophisticated and their methods of attacks are also evolving.
They change what they target and how they go about carrying out the cyber attack.
Impacts of Cybercrime
Cybercrime leads to various repercussions and negative impacts, including:
There are economic costs involved following a cyber attack, as there’s often theft of invaluable intellectual property.
When corporate information is compromised, there’s often a disruption in trading, leading to various financial losses.
Damaged systems will also need to be repaired following a cyber attack.
A cyber attack will lead to a loss of customer trust.
As a result, the reputation of the company will end up suffering.
Customers will be inclined to go to a competitor firm as they can no longer trust your organisation.
There could also be negative media coverage which will dent your organisation’s reputation and public image considerably.
If GDPR and other data protection laws are breached as a result of a cyber attack, the organisation involved may have to pay hefty regulatory fines or sanctions.
Types of Cyber Security
The following are the main types of cyber security methods available:
Application security describes the security which is used by applications in order to prevent data or code in the app from being hijacked or stolen.
Such security systems are implemented during the phase of application development.
Cloud security revolves around procedures which secure cloud computing environments against the various threats, both of those which are internal as well as external.
Thanks to cloud security systems, unauthorised access can be prevented,.
As a result, the data and applications in the cloud will be much more secure from cyber attacks.
This type of security describes the physical as well as cyber systems which are indispensable for society.
Should such infrastructures be incapacitated as a result of a cyber attack, there will be a considerable impact on the public health and safety, as well as physical and economic repercussions.
Internet of Things (IoT) Security
IoT is the concept of connecting a device to the internet and other devices which are also connected.
Hence, IoT refers to a network of connected people and devices that share data.
This could include appliances, routers, printers, devices, and all kinds of home networks.
Securing such devices is extremely important.
Network security refers to the protection of the network infrastructure from unauthorised abuse, access or theft.
Hence a secure infrastructure for devices, applications and users needs to be created to safeguard against cyber threats.
Typical Cyber Security Threats
Cyber Crime refers to unauthorised activities which involve a device, a computer or a network.
There are various kinds of cyber security threats out there, including:
This is a form of malware, which is sometimes referred to as advertisement-supported software.
This is installed without the user’s permission.
Once done, it will start to generate unwanted online adverts.
This involves a large-scale cyberattack that is conducted remotely.
It’s controlled by malware infected devices.
Once this occurs, the compromised computer will also become part of the system, making things even more problematic.
This threat is essentially a politically based attack on computers, with the aim of causing harm and creating a widespread social disruption.
This is a cyber attack which essentially floods a computer or a network with a huge amount of what are referred to as ‘handshake’ processes.
As a result, the system will become overloaded, and it will be much harder for it to respond to other users’ requests.
Malware is a generic term which includes spyware, ransomware, viruses and worms.
Basically, harmful software will disrupt the system, block one’s access to the computer system, or even transmit information from the data storage in a covert manner.
All these threats can obviously lead to various repercussions.
MITM stands for man-in-the-middle attack.
Such an attack involves hackers who insert themselves into an online transaction originally intended to be between two people.
Once this is done, the hacker will be able to filter and steal data.
Such attacks are very common when unsecured public wi-fi networks are used.
This refers to a Structured Query Language attack.
It inserts malicious code into a server that uses SQL.
Hackers make use of false communications, generally emails, in order to fool the recipient to follow certain instructions.
In most cases, personal information will end up being disclosed to the cyber criminal.
Some phishing attacks also include the installation of malware.
A Trojan attack refers to an attack which tricks the user into thinking that they’re opening a harmless file.
In truth however, once they do, the trojan will manage to attack the system generally by establishing a backdoor that allows access to the cybercriminals.
Advantages of Cyber Security
Cyber security is crucial to protecting devices and systems from cyber attacks.
Without the hard work and professionalism of cyber security professionals, there would be many more individuals and businesses falling foul of numerous cyber attacks which are all around us nowadays.
Indeed, without suitable cyber security defenses, it would be quite simple to destroy certain essentials which we have come to rely upon, including power grids and water treatment facilities for instance.
Cyber security is also important to preserve our modern lifestyles, and to protect us from data theft and damage.
Cyber security protects us from malware and viruses, ransomware, data theft and hacking.
In the case of organisations and businesses, proper cyber security measures will offer a safeguard against various financial crimes, including staff embezzlement, or instances where consumers might try to unlawfully access corporate account data.
Cyber Security Falsehoods
There are a number of common misconceptions and myths regarding cyber security
Very often these falsehoods hold off people from taking certain actions and precautions to safeguard their data.
Encryption is Pointless
Unfortunately many think that encryption is not necessary.
But in truth, encryption solutions will avoid data breaches and play a crucial role in defending your systems against cyber criminals and subsequent attacks.
File Deletion Works
When a file is deleted it is moved to the recycle bin.
However, after deleting a file, the data actually remains on the hard drive, such as the temporary files folder.
Thus, moving a file to the trash will not completely erase it.
Passwords Alone Will Protect You
In isolation, passwords are not sufficient enough to protect you from cybercrime.
Relying solely on passwords is not enough to keep data safe.
Unfortunately, many cyber criminals manage to find a way to hack passwords.
Hence, multi-factor authentication is strongly recommended.
SME’s Are Never Targeted
This is definitely not the case, since many small businesses fail to implement sufficient data security protocols.
While large corporations may seem to be commonly targeted by cyber criminals, many small to medium sized businesses are also targeted.
Indeed, in 2021, 61% of SMEs reported that they had fallen victim to at least one cyber attack.
All companies should thus invest in protecting themselves against cyber crime regardless of their size.
Ways to Protect from Cyber Attacks
It’s crucial to ensure that you safeguard yourself or your business from cyber attacks.
As discussed above, there are various costs involved should you fall victim to such an attack.
Hence, it’s imperative to increase security in order to reduce the risk of being the victim of cyber crime.
The following are some things you could do:
It’s very important to invest in staff education.
The more your staff are aware of how to identify possible cyber attacks, the lesser the chances that you will become a victim.
Back in 2019, 90% of data breaches resulted due to human error.
Hence, the more informed your staff are, the smaller the probability that they will make such mistakes.
If sufficiently trained, they will be better able to identify threats and respond appropriately to them.
Invest in Protecting Sensitive Data
You should make sure to invest in tools which can limit the loss of important data.
Data exposure should be scanned continuously to prevent data leaks.
This will reduce the chances of having cyber criminals gain access to internal networks or succeed in breaching sensitive resources.
Implement a Third-Party Risk Management Solution
This includes sending out vendor assessment questionnaires while ensuring that there’s a sound cyber security risk assessment strategy in place.
The following are also key tips which should be kept in mind:
- Use a VPN to privatise and encrypt connections.
- Scan links before clicking on them.
- Change passwords routinely and ensure they’re strong, while also investing in two-factor authentication.
- Scan externally attached devices for any viruses.
- Remove adware from computers.
- Keep software up to date.
- Use antivirus and antimalware software.
- Avoid opening emails which seem suspicious.
- Use a security file sharing solution to encrypt data.
- Regularly back up data.
With the considerable increase in cyber attacks, ranging from cyber warfare and terrorism to hacktivists, it’s of paramount importance to understand the importance of cyber security and investing in it.
Moreover, with the mandatory requirements imposed by regulations and data privacy laws, it has become a must to invest and implement a cybersecurity program.
There are professionals who can offer their assistance in this regard, so that proper safeguards are put in place to reduce the chances of falling victim to a cyber attack.