Cybersecurity Explained: Basics to Know

By: Kayla Matthews on October 14, 2019

Cybersecurity is a hot topic in modern society. Here's a look at some of the fundamental material associated with it that applies to anyone interested in keeping information secure.

What Is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity involves protecting all information existing on the internet or in the digital realm, plus related systems and infrastructures, from infiltration attempts and data breaches.

Individuals and businesses alike can — and should — take cybersecurity precautions. For example, a person might install anti-virus software and stay abreast of news about cybercriminals. At the business end of things, a company could deploy intelligent solutions that monitor for unusual network traffic and alert IT professionals to take a closer look.

What Are the Main Types of Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a broad field. Several specific types exist, and they serve different purposes. The growing severity of modern, internet-based threats usually requires applying several security methods simultaneously, depending on needs and the most likely risks. They include:

  • Information security: Protecting content from unauthorized access and malicious seizures.
  • Network security: Safeguarding a network and its files and databases from unexpected outsider access with things like firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs).
  • Endpoint security: Securing all devices connected to a network — such as smartphones, internet-enabled gadgets and computers, by removing or minimizing the vulnerabilities associated with them. Cybersecurity professionals and enthusiasts should not overlook internet-based devices such as security cameras, fitness trackers and digital whiteboards with Wi-Fi.
  • Cloud security: Addressing cybersecurity for all cloud-based applications and material stored in the cloud.
  • Website security: Stopping threats that could make a website fail to function as expected or take it offline. Screening for malware is a primary part of website security, especially since it could infect visitors' computers and cause a site to drop in search engine rankings if detected.
  • Application security: Proactively preventing cybercriminals from exploiting weaknesses in apps used by internet-connected devices. It also encompasses releasing updates that address known issues through patches.

Why Is Cybersecurity So Important?

In today's society, internet-transmitted or stored information is valuable, and hackers know it. They know that successfully breaking into a system could give them access to data they could sell on the black market. Plus, the costs associated with cyberattacks are substantial.

Recently published data from Kaspersky/B2B International indicates that the average costs associated with an enterprise-level cyberattack total $1.41 million.

However, the report also indicated that 34% of companies that employed a data protection officer did not have cyber incidents that caused monetary losses. Also, when businesses created on-site security operations centers, their cybersecurity incident costs decreased by more than half.

Lost profits are not the only consequences associated with cybersecurity shortcomings, though. A 2018 global poll from Ping Identity revealed that 78% of customers would stop engaging with companies online after those businesses experienced data breaches. Also, more than one-third (36%) said they would not continue associating with a brand at all after a data breach.

The need for robust cybersecurity goes up as more information gets collected, too. Autonomous vehicles may become mainstream relatively soon, and big data reigns supreme. The amount of data collected and the speed of the associated processing means that old IT infrastructures are no longer sufficient. Upgrades are necessary, and people must make cybersecurity a top-of-mind concern.

Which Kinds of Cyberattacks Are Particularly Common?

It's impossible to cover all the possible cyberattacks here. However, people interested in cybersecurity should at least know about some of the issues that individuals and organizations are most likely to face.

Phishing

Phishing happens when a cybercriminal poses as someone in a position of authority and attempts to get people to disclose sensitive details.

For example, a person might receive an email from what appears to be their favorite online shopping site and see that the content asks them to provide their credit card details so the store can supposedly "update its records." Phishing scams where people are urged to provide private information to claim prizes are also common.

Ransomware

Ransomware typically occurs once hackers covertly install harmful software called malware on someone's computer or convince them to download it. The ransomware then locks down access to files or networks until the victim agrees to pay the ransom. However, forking over the payment isn't a guaranteed way to fix the problem.

Ransomware can make all computer systems inoperable and force businesses to use paper instead. In one recent case where the victimized company chose not to pay up, cybercriminals attacked a global aluminum company, affecting 22,000 computers in 40 countries.

SQL Injection Attacks

These happen when unwelcome parties infiltrate back-end databases and use malicious code to manipulate them. The databases then reveal information that should have remained inaccessible except to authorized individuals.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Incidents

DDoS cyberattacks take place when those to blame flood a targeted site with traffic or repeated requests. These actions overwhelm the website, take it down and make it so legitimate users cannot access it.

Cybersecurity Is Crucial

This explainer gives a rundown of cybersecurity and related topics. No matter a person's line of business or how they use the internet, staying protected online means taking cybersecurity seriously.

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