The word cybersecurity gets thrown around a lot these days. However, do people really know what it means? 

Contrary to what Anti-Virus programs claim, there is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to cybersecurity. This is because there are so many vulnerable parts in your system or network that are exposed to attacks. 

Computers, data, electronic systems, networks, servers, and even mobile devices are now targets of phishing attacks, malware, and viruses.  

No one is safe. 

An anti-virus program can only protect you at a certain level. Most cyber threats aren’t just carried out through a frontal approach, so many use backdoor access to wreak havoc on your system. 

When one solution gets rolled out, a few hundred malicious programs are designed to try and overcome it.  

Therefore, cybersecurity can’t just be one thing. Instead, it is an umbrella term for all the processes designed to increase the safety of everyone who accesses computers, servers, and other computing devices.  

Cybersecurity is a multi-layer approach to defending these systems with the intent of keeping everyone safe by ensuring that threats are immediately detected, investigated, and remedied. 

And because there are threats constantly arising, cybersecurity is considered to be one of the more dynamic aspects of IT and there is never any shortage of things to learn or adapt to in order to ensure complete safety. 

Cybersecurity Categories  

As mentioned above, cybersecurity is an umbrella term for protecting your system from malicious attacks. So, if you find the terms “Information Technology Security” and “Electronic Information Security used by System Administrators” that still falls under cybersecurity. 

Here are other terms that you might want to be familiar with that fall under the cybersecurity umbrella term or definition: 

  • Application Security – designed to keep software free of malicious threats. This covers applications and software installed onto computers, servers, and mobile devices.
  • Disaster Recovery – should a successful attack occur, mitigating its effects and restoring continuity is a high priority. After dealing with the concern, it is in the best interest of a System Administrator to reset the system back to its latest operable state. This also covers backing up data and setting restore points.
  • Information Technology Security – protects your data, bolsters system integrity, and ensures privacy for stored and transmitted data.
  • Network Security – designed to protect networks from intruders and malware.
  • Operational Security – secures your data assets including the processes involved and handling.  

But the most important cyber security measure is teaching everyone, whether they are part of the organization or are just regular end-users to always be aware that there are threats abound.  

Teaching these people not to access unsecure websites, download suspect software, use unidentified USBs, and to delete suspicious emails and attachments is the key to minimizing the disastrous effects viruses and malware can have on everyone.  

Usual Targets 

Anyone can be a target of malicious cyberattacks. 

Think you’re safe because you’re not part of an organization or you don’t deal with large monetary transactions online? Think again. Money isn’t just the main motivator for cyber terrorists to attack you. Your personal data is just as valuable to them if all they want to do is collect information for selling it off to an interested party. 

And even the most highly guarded systems or networks aren’t immune to attacks. In fact, they get hit multiple times per day by cyber threats looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit. The level of security employed is the only thing that determines the level of catastrophe involved should a successful attempt go through. 

Needless to say, always remain vigilant and if in doubt, don’t click on that link or install that software. 

Types of Cybersecurity Threats 

Want to know the full extent of what you’re up against?  

Here is a broad overview of the three types of cyber threats present today: 

  • Cybercrime – perpetrated by individuals or groups who mean to cause harm through financial gain or simply to cause a disruption in normal operations.
  • Cyberattacks – usually done as a politically motivated information gathering activity and can alter event outcomes.
  • Cyberterrorism – large-scale attacks meant to sow panic or fear in large populations. Very devastating if not countered properly. 

Here are some examples of cybersecurity threats that you need to be aware of: 

  • DOS (Denial of Service) Attack – a DOS attack basically sends a ton of traffic to a network or a website overwhelming the bandwidth and causing the system to become unstable. This disrupts the normal operations expected of that network or website leading to huge losses of traffic from legitimate internal and external customers.
  • Malware – malware or malicious software is one of the most common tools used by hackers to gain unauthorized access, disrupt activities, or cause damage to computers, networks, servers, and mobile devices. There are many types of malware out there including the following:
    • Adware – often masked as advertisements on websites to cause damage.
    • Botnets – automates code that fools computers, networks, servers, and mobile devices into thinking that an actual human is operating them and performing tasks without the user’s knowledge.
    • Ransomware – locks down systems and can only be lifted if the victim pays the hacker.
    • Spyware – malicious code used to record what a user does on his computer to capture pertinent information like credit card details and other valuable credentials.
    • Trojan – a devastating type of malware that acts like a legitimate piece of software that then acts like spyware, ransomware, botnets, and other types of malware.
    • Virus – a program that attaches to clean files and spreads like wildfire throughout the system infecting everything with malicious code.
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack – this is one of the more invasive types of cyberattacks. Basically, what happens is they intercept communication to steal data. This usually happens when there’s an unsecure WiFi connection.
  • Phishingone of the more popular methods hackers use nowadays because nearly everyone has an email account. The best way to counter this is to educate everyone not to click on emails that look suspicious. A lot of sensitive information has been collected through phishing attacks.
  • Social Engineering – this tactic relies heavily on trickery than actual hacking. Social engineering is done to mislead people to click on a malicious link or download malware that will lead to data collection. They can also employ phishing or simply asking for the person’s password to gain access to their account and perform unauthorized acts.
  • SQL injection – this is a high-level cyberattack designed to exploit the vulnerabilities of a database. Once inside they can insert malicious codes to collect data, disrupt operations, or simply hold the database for ransom. 

Things You Can Do to Prevent Falling Victim to Cyber Threats 

They always say that an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure. So, protecting yourself should always be a top priority whether you’re a system administrator or just a regular computer user who loves going online. 

Here’s what you can do: 

  • Update your Software and Operating System Regularly – this is pretty straightforward and you will usually find a notice coming from the software company that they have released updates or patches to increase your security. Make sure you install them immediately to protect yourself from the latest malware out there.
  • Use Anti-Virus Software – going online without an antivirus software installed in your computer is an open invitation for cyber criminals, viruses, and other threats. There are many anti-virus softwares out there that you can purchase or subscribe to which ensure you a greater level of security than not having one.
  • Use Strong Passwords and Never Give Them Out – it is highly advisable to use strong passwords. Most sites encourage the use of passwords with alphanumeric and symbol combinations to make it harder for hackers to decipher. But the best thing to avoid giving unauthorized access to other people is not to give out your password.
  • Be Wary of Email Coming from People You Don’t Know – a lot of people make the mistake of clicking on email attachments from people they supposedly know only to find out later that it was sent by a fraudster. Always check the email address of the sender and, if in doubt, don’t click on the attachment they send unless you fully trust them. 
  • If in Doubt, Don’t Click on it – there are a lot of innocent looking links that are created to mislead people. This can lead to an introduction of a malware into the user’s system. Like we mentioned above: if in doubt, don’t click on that link.
  • Avoid Public Networks – if you can manage to do it, avoid logging on to a public WiFi network. Sure, everyone thinks it’s a good thing that public WiFi is now available. The sad thing is, this is where a lot of cyberattacks can happen. If you really must use the Internet when you’re out, use a secure mobile connection. 

In Conclusion  

In conclusion, cybersecurity covers a very wide spectrum. The end-point is to keep systems, computers, networks, and mobile devices safe. Protecting yourself from cyberattacks is as easy as securing your passwords or as complicated as creating entire architectures and layers of fail-safe to ensure nothing gets through. 

To sum up, there are 5 layers of defense involved in cybersecurity: 

  • Back Up Your Data – in the event of a catastrophe, having a copy or a restore point is the best way to move forward. Always make it a point to regularly back up your data.
  • Use a Firewall – don’t make it easy for hackers to get into your system. Have a firewall up as an obstacle they must overcome before having access to your data.
  • Install Security and Software Patches – there’s a reason why software companies roll these patches out: to increase the security of their programs. You’ll find it in your best interest to install them immediately as soon as they are made available.
  • Use an Antivirus Software – again, don’t make it easy for these unscrupulous individuals to get what they want from you. Make them work for it by having an anti-virus software installed to protect your system.
  • Education is Key to Eradicating the Threat – educating users how to properly use their devices and how to navigate the web safely is the key to eradicating cyber threats. The more people out there who remain vigilant about these security threats, the lesser the impact is as a whole. 

It is in everyone’s best interest to inform one another that there is a threat out there and make them aware that cybercrime exists. We have a social responsibility to lead them in the right direction to ensure their systems are protected.   

That’s it for now. Stay safe everyone!