What is cyber security?
Cyber security is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks. It is also known as information technology security or electronic information security. The term is applied in a wide variety of contexts, from business to mobile computing, and can be divided into a few general categories.
- Network security is the practice of acquiring computer networks from intruders, whether targeted attackers or opportunistic malware.
- Application security focuses on keeping software and devices free from threats. A compromised application can provide access to data designed for security. Successful protection begins in the design phase, before any program or equipment is deployed.
- Information security protects the integrity and confidentiality of data, both in storage and in transit.
- Operational safety in handling data assets and their protection to include processes and decisions. The user’s permissions and procedures for determining how and where data can be stored or shared while accessing a network all fall under this umbrella.
- Disaster recovery and business continuity define how an organization reacts to a cyber security incident or any other event that causes operations or data loss. Disaster recovery policies determine how the organization restores its operations and information to revert to the operational capacity prior to the incident. Continuity of business is the plan on which the organization tries to operate without some resources.
- End-user education addresses the most unexpected cyber-security factor: people. One can accidentally introduce a virus into an otherwise secure system by failing to follow good security practices. Teaching users how to remove suspicious email attachments, not plugging into unknown USB drives, and various other important lessons are important for the security of any organization.
Cyber threat scale
The global cyber threat is constantly evolving at a rapid pace, with increasing numbers of data breaches every year. A report by Riskbed Security has revealed that in the first nine months of 2019 alone, data breaches have revealed a shocking 7.9 billion records. This figure is more than double (112%) record in 2018 over the same period.
Medical services, retailers and public entities experienced the most violations, with malicious offenders responsible for most of the incidents. Some of these sectors are more attractive to cyber criminals because they collect financial and medical data, but all businesses that use the network can be targeted for customer data, corporate espionage or customer attacks.
With the scale of cyber threat increasing, the International Data Corporation estimates that worldwide spending on cyber security solutions will reach $ 133.7 billion by 2022. Governments around the world have responded to the growing cyber threat by offering guidance to help organizations implement effective cyber security practices.
In the US, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a cyber-security framework . To combat the proliferation of malicious code and aid in early detection, the framework recommends continuous, real-time monitoring of all electronic resources.
The importance of system monitoring is echoed in the ” 10 Steps to Cyber Security ” guidance provided by the UK Government’s National Cyber Security Center. In Australia, the Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC) regularly publishes guidance on how organizations can counter the latest cyber security threats.
Types of cyber threats
The threats related to cyber security are threefold:
- Cybercrime involves soloists or groups targeting the system for financial gain or to disrupt the target.
- Cyber-attacks often involve collecting politically motivated information.
- Cyber terrorism aims to cause panic or fear to electronic systems.
So, how do malicious actors gain control over computer systems? Here are some common ways to endanger cyber security:
Malware means malicious software. One of the most common cyber threats, malware is software created by a cyber criminal or hacker to disrupt or harm a legitimate user’s computer. Often spread through an unwanted email attachment or legitimate looking download, malware can be used by cyber criminals to make money or in politically motivated cyber attacks.
There are several types of malware, including:
- Virus: A self-replicating program that attaches itself to clean up a file and spreads throughout computer systems, infecting files with malicious code.
- Trojan : A type of malware that is disguised as legitimate software. Cybercriminals trick users into uploading Trojans to their computers, where they cause damage or collect data.
- Spyware: A program that secretly records what a user does, so that cyber criminals can use this information. For example, spyware can capture credit card details.
- Ransomware: Malware that shuts down a user’s files and data, threatening to be erased until the ransom is paid.
- Adware: Advertising software that can be used to spread malware.
- Botnet: Networks of malware-infected computers that cybercriminals use to perform tasks online without the user’s permission.
A SQL (Structured Language Query) injection is a type of cyber-attack used to control and steal data from a database. Cybercriminal exploits vulnerabilities in data-driven applications to insert malicious code through malicious SQL statements. This gives them access to sensitive information contained in the database.
Phishing occurs when cyber criminals target victims with legitimate company emails seeking sensitive information. Phishing attacks are often used to hand over credit card data and other personal information to people.
A human-in-the-middle attack is a type of cyber threat where a cybercrime accepts communication between two individuals to steal data. For example, on an unsecured WiFi network, an attacker may intercept data from the victim’s device and network.
denial of service attack
A denial-of-service attack is where cybercriminals prevent a computer system from fulfilling legitimate requests by overwhelming the network and servers with traffic. This makes the system unusable, preventing an organization from performing important tasks.
Latest cyber threats
What are the latest cyber threats that individuals and organizations need to deal with? Here are some of the most recent cyber threats reported by UK, US and Australian governments.
In December 2019, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) accused the leader of an organized cyber-criminal group for its part in the global Drydex malware attack . This malicious campaign affected the public, government, infrastructure and business worldwide.
Dridex is a financial Trojan with a range of capabilities. Affecting victims since 2014, it infects computers due to phishing emails or existing malware. Capable of stealing passwords, banking details and personal data, which can be used in fraudulent transactions, it has caused massive financial losses to hundreds of millions.
In response to Dridex attacks, the UK’s National Cyber Security Center has advised the public “to ensure that devices are patched, anti-virus is switched on and files are backed up”.
In February 2020, the FBI warned US citizens about trust fraud to be informed that cybercriminals use dating sites, chat rooms and applications. Criminals take advantage of people looking for new partners, cheating victims by giving them personal data.
The FBI reports that romance cyber threats affected 114 victims in New Mexico in 2019, with financial losses amounting to $ 1.6 million.
In late 2019, the Australian Cyber Security Center warned national organizations about the widespread global cyber threat from Emotet malware.
Emotet is a sophisticated trojan that can steal data and load other malware as well. Emotet unsoph thrives on sophisticated passwords: reminds us of the importance of creating a secure password to protect against cyber threats.
End user protection
End-user security or endpoint security is an important aspect of cyber security. After all, it is often a person (end-user) who accidentally uploads malware or any other type of cyber threat onto their desktop, laptop or mobile device.
So, how do cyber security measures protect end users and systems? First, cyber-security relies on cryptographic protocols to encrypt emails, files, and other important data. It not only protects information in transit, but also guards against loss or theft.
In addition, end-user security software scans the computer for pieces of malicious code, quarantines this code, and then removes it from the machine. Security programs can also detect and delete malicious code hidden in primary boot records and are designed to encrypt or wipe data from a computer’s hard drive.
Electronic security protocols also focus on real-time malware detection . Many heuristics and behavior analysis use a program to protect against viruses or Trojans and monitor the behavior of its code that changes its size with each execution (polymorphic and metamorphic malware). Security programs can limit potentially malicious programs to separate virtual bubbles from the user’s network to analyze their behavior and learn how to better detect new infections.
Security programs continue to develop new defenses as cyber-security professionals identify new threats and new ways to deal with them. To make the most of end-user security software, employees need to be educated on how to use it. Critically, keeping it running and updating it frequently ensures that it can protect users from the latest cyber threats.
Cyber Security Tips – Protect Yourself From Cyber Attack
How can businesses and individuals protect against cyber threats? Here are our top cyber security tips:
- Update your software and operating system: This means that you will benefit from the latest security patches.
- Use anti-virus software: Security solutions such as Kaspersky Total Security will detect and remove threats. Keep your software updated for the best level of security.
- Use strong passwords: Make sure your passwords are not easily guessable.
- Do not open email attachments from unknown senders: they can be infected with malware.
- Do not click on links in emails from unknown senders or unfamiliar websites: This is a common method by which malware spreads.
- Avoid using unsecured WiFi networks in public places: Insecure networks make you vulnerable to frequent attacks.
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