The world relies on technology now more than ever before and this highlights the importance of cyber security. More industries are going through digital transformations in order to stay ahead which means that more services are being automated or offered through online portals. Think of Spotify, Uber, Airbnb, etc. All these services offer their value through 24/7 self-service portals that eliminate the process of waiting and customer service desks.
However, these devices and the underlying technology have vulnerabilities which if, are successfully exploited, can cause massive consequences for both the device user and the business. Personal information such as records, credit-card info, passwords, and social security numbers can be stolen if the underlying technology does not have the appropriate defenses in place.
Cyber crime doesn’t just affect the consumer, too. It can have great impacts on the business as well. The costs of recovering from a cyber crime can be immense and the indirect impact such as the loss of consumer loyalty and workforce morale can cripple a business. Therefore, the importance of cyber security should be well emphasised in any organisation with an online presence by ensuring that employees understand simple techniques to reduce risk. Not downloading suspicious email contents, visiting phishing websites, and not using unidentified USB drives can already mitigate a lot of potential risk.
The need to protect this data has become almost vital in today’s digital environment. People are less likely to sign up for a service or use a piece of technology if they have the slightest doubt in its security. Moreover, data breaches in a business can result in huge fines from the government depending on the local law.
The aforementioned value of this data is why cyber crime exists. People who commit computer-related crimes are usually motivated by monetary purposes. One of the most common forms of cyber crime is phishing. This is defined as a fraudulent attempt by a person or group of persons to obtain private information such as passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive information. This is usually done through the form of hacking by breaching network servers, databases, and computer systems.
What is Cyber Security?
Cyber security or information technology security are the techniques of protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unauthorized access or attacks that are aimed for exploitation. To gain a better understanding of what cyber security is, we should begin with explaining what an information system is:
An information system is an organised system for the collection, organisation, storage, analysis, and communication of information. Information security includes the processes and approaches designed and implemented to keep data available and confidential while ensuring its integrity is maintained. The term is also sometimes used in more restricted senses to refer to only the software used to run a computerised database or to refer to only a computer system.
A computer-based information system is essentially an information system using computer technology to implement some or all of its planned tasks. The basic components of computer-based information systems are:
Hardware – these are the devices like the monitor, processor, printer and keyboard, all of which work together to accept, process, show data and information.
Software are the programs that allow the hardware to process the data.
Databases are the gathering of associated files or tables containing related data.
Networks are a connecting system that allows diverse computers to distribute resources.
Procedures are the commands for combining the components above to process information and produce the preferred output.
As such, the first four components (hardware, software, databases and networks, make up the information technology platform. IT workers are able to use these components to create information systems that watch over safety measures, the management of data, and handle risks.
Cyber security is a practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, networks, and other systems from malicious attacks. Organisations and businesses alike can demonstrate their understanding of the importance of cyber security by deploying several different security measures. But an organisation with little experience in cyber security would be unlikely to know where to begin.
To make it easier to understand, Cyber Security can be broken down into 6 different types:
1. Application Security: This comprises of the measures and techniques used to defend against attacks or threats that arise in the development stage of an application. Application security also includes tools and methods deployed to protect apps once they are launched. User authentication, authorization, and input validation are some examples of techniques used in application security.
Gartner, a leading IT services and advisory company, categorises security testing tools into several different areas to help coordinate different security measures to ensure application security.
Mobile testing is designed for the mobile application environments and can examine how an attacker can infiltrate the mobile OS and the applications running on them.
Static testing is used to analyse code at certain points during its development. This is handy for developers to check their code as they are writing it to ensure that security issues are being implemented during development.
Dynamic testing which analyses running code. This is more useful, as it can simulate attacks on production systems and reveal more complicated attack patterns that use a combination of systems.
Interactive testing is one that combines elements of both static and dynamic testing.
2. Network Security: This is the practice of monitoring and preventing unauthorized access and exploitation of an internal network for a business or organization. Network security is meant to ensure the networks maintain a level of security, reliability and functionality. Firewalls, VPNs, and antivirus software are some examples of measures taken to ensure network security.
Simply put, network security combines multiple layers of different defense measures in and around the network. Each and every network security layer applies assigned policies and control measures. Malicious users are blocked from carrying out exploits, but authorised users are still granted access to the network.
Network Access Control is implemented to keep out potential malicious users. It is a computer networking solution that uses a set of protocols to define and implement a policy that determines how a device will secure access to network nodes when they initially attempt to access the network.
Firewalls are essentially barriers between your trusted internal network and untrusted external networks. Firewalls use a set of defined rules to allow or block traffic. The purpose of a firewall is to reduce or implement the occurrence of unwanted network communications while allowing authentic users to flow freely. Firewalls are an essential layer of network security.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) is a network security protocol that encrypts the connection from an endpoint to a network, usually over the internet. It enables users to extend a private network over a public network as if their device were directly connected to the private network. Applications running on a device across a VPN will benefit from the security and management of a private network.
3. Information Security: This is the practice of maintaining a standard of protection against any malicious attacks that targets information or sensitive data. This is important to ensure data privacy and to prevent fraud, identity theft, and data leaks.
4. Website Security: As the name suggests, this type of security aims to protect websites from any cyber-risks. Some of the measures taken for ensuring website security include website scanning, firewalls, application security testing, and anti-malware. Websites are one of the most common targets for malicious users as they contain a wide range of databases that can include passwords, financial information, and personal data.
Website security measures help protect a website against unwanted consequences such as defacement (hacker replacing your website’s content with malicious content), or DDoS attacks, malware, vulnerability exploits, etcetera. Website security also helps protect your users against data theft, malicious redirects, and phishing attempts.
5. Endpoint Security: The inter-connectivity of smart devices in today’s world can be accredited to the Internet-of-Things. Since all these devices are connected through networks – it creates entry points that malicious users can exploit. Endpoint security is used to make sure that these entry points are secure against such users by blocking any attempts made to these entry points. Firewalls, antivirus, anti-malware and live monitoring are some of the major techniques used to ensure endpoint security.
6. Disaster Recovery: Sometimes cyber security measures fail to protect a system against an attack. In this event were it to occur, organizations need procedures in place for recovering from an attack or data breach. This procedure includes risk assessment, analysis, recovery mechanisms, and having an established disaster response team.
Cybersecurity is an essential aspect of any company operating in today’s digitalised world. Lacking sound cyber security measures is a sure-fire way to cripple an organisation as it leaves them prone to attacks, exploits, and breaches.