In the past, people strived to take over by colonizing or invading another country for its land and resources. Do not get me wrong - this is still the case, and governments still want to create wars and invade other countries even in 2022. However, the war context and its meaning have shifted significantly to include data and information access as the main war resources. Indeed, cyberattacks have emerged because of how important it is to take control of confidential data more than ever before. Cyberattacks on companies that operate in crucial infrastructure sectors increased by more than 4,000% from 2013 to 2021.
This is perhaps one of the reasons why governments, small and big companies, NGOs, and many others invest millions in cybersecurity - they invest in recruiting top computer scientists, cybersecurity experts, and top graduates and invest thousands of dollars in training employees. This article will tackle some of the main aspects of cybersecurity and its practices. Moreover, it will go over three main steps to adopt to prevent cyberattacks.
What is cybersecurity and what does it consist of?
Cybersecurity refers to the technologies, systems, applications, practices, and processes designed to protect private databases, networks, personal or professional devices, and services from cyberattacks, extortion, damage, and leaking. Cybersecurity practices are very complex and are a trial and error procedure that is constantly evolving due to the rapid change in technology and the easy access to knowledge. In that sense, while giant organisations are becoming experts at reinforcing their digital security systems, cybercriminals and hackers are becoming even stronger and more knowledgeable at distorting and hacking confidential data and infrastructure.
Cybersecurity is not a one size fits all process. Each organization implements cybersecurity practices and rules depending on its size, its importance, its industry, its data, and many other factors. For instance, Microsoft won’t have the same cybersecurity practices as a startup or a smaller company would have. This is perhaps because hackers tend to target tech giants or other giant companies. After all, they know they will have access to crucial, confidential, and protected data that’s very valuable. However, anyone can be a target for cybercriminals no matter how small a business is.
Types of cybersecurity:
There are different types of cybersecurity and each one of those has a distinctive role. Types of cybersecurity are grouped into five main groups.
This is all about addressing vulnerabilities arising from unsafe development efforts in the design, coding, and publication of software or a website. In other words, this type of security is related to the developer side of a business. While DevOps allows an efficient and fast coding and software development process, most cybersecurity teams forget to implement security practices as a core component. According to Forbes, many security departments are still acting reactively rather than proactively in the face of security breaches, which could cause even more damage. What if the nature of a cyberattack is more serious than the non-holistic approach a company has to its application security practices? Therefore, application security teams require processes and tools that will assist them in building just the exact amount of security to cover the entire software development lifecycle.
Critical infrastructure cybersecurity:
This type involves cybersecurity practices to secure and protect critical infrastructures that have to do with our everyday lives like transportation, electricity, water, universities, schools, hospitals, telecommunications, and banks. The risk is high if these critical infrastructures get attacked as it could impact an entire population of a country. Hence, protection programs should not only focus on physical threats but should expand to include robust protection systems against cyberattacks which could potentially be even more dangerous. For instance, Ukraine’s internet and telecommunications provider, Ukrtelecom, was attacked in late March 2022. This attack has resulted in shutting down the entire system and led to a 13% collapse.
Addressing vulnerabilities in your operating systems and network architecture, such as servers and hosts, firewalls and wireless access points, and network protocols is part of network security. An organisation’s network and how it protects it is one of the most important aspects that determine its success. Covid-19 has disrupted businesses and required most employees to turn to remote or hybrid work. This naturally includes people constantly working on their computers away from one central network system. This effectively has made network security more challenging for security teams that are constantly striving to keep employees and their networks secure no matter how far they are. NSA has introduced the concept of the “Zero Trust Security Model” which entails that a security rupture has already taken place or it is unavoidable. This in turn continually enables access solely to what is in demand and constantly monitors activity that appears malicious or suspicious.
But what is the Zero Trust security model: The National Security Agency of the United States defines it as “a set of system design principles, and a coordinated cybersecurity and system management strategy based on an acknowledgment that threats exist both inside and outside traditional network boundaries”. The zero Trust security model also removes any implied trust in any single node, element, or service and demands constant monitoring of any activity through real-time information coming from different sources instead.
Cloud security is a subgroup of cybersecurity and draws on data, infrastructure, and application security in a cloud space. What makes the cloud very attractive is its virtual nature, which can only be accessible through the internet. This allows organizations or individuals to retrieve data even if their hardware fails. Following the ISC 2021 cloud security study, 96% of businesses are worried about cloud security. 64% are concerned with losing data, and 62% worry about confidentiality. Therefore, it is critical to discuss privacy matters with cloud providers. Although there could be trustworthy relationships between businesses and cloud providers, cyberattacks can be unpredictable and unavoidable sometimes.
IoT security refers to the protection of intelligent devices and networks that are connected to the internet of things. Smart fire alarms, lighting, radiators, and other utilities are examples of IoT devices that connect to the Internet without the need for human involvement.
Three simple steps to prevent cyberattacks and strengthen your individual and business’s cybersecurity:
1- Create strong passwords:
We can not insist enough on how this frivolous step that most people and companies tend to overlook is crucial when it comes to cybersecurity. We mention passwords again because it’s one of the basic, yet most critical steps that could lead to breaches of either your private accounts or your company-related accounts. The damages that could result from this are noteworthy. Cybercriminals would jump on any opportunity, including accessing your account and obtaining the most confidential information you could have like databases, bank account documents, ideas, etc. Always strive to create a different, strong password at all times using lower and upper cases, numbers, or three whole different sets of words together that a cyber attacker would struggle to guess. Many people are tempted to just make one easy password across all of their accounts. But this is a no-no, don’t fall into the trap.
2- Make your employees aware of cybersecurity for a more decentralized approach:
Covid 19 consequences haven’t made it easier when it comes to cybersecurity practices. It has rendered the situation even more challenging as employees started working from home. Therefore, it has never been more important to raise awareness and provide employees with full coaching to ensure they know how to prevent any collateral cybersecurity damage. It applies equally to start-ups and big companies/multinationals. Do never assume that because you are a smaller business a cybercriminal won’t be interested. Start-ups, such as Cogify itself, work with significant customers. Therefore, they have access to confidential data and information which could appeal to a cyber hang or criminal.
3- Put cybersecurity at the heart of your business: Always update.
The digital environment is constantly evolving and changing, and so are cyberattackers' capabilities. The only way to keep up is to put cybersecurity efforts at the heart of your strategy. After all, if your business security collapses, so does your entire company. Who would want to trust a company that offers high-quality products but does not invest enough in its cybersecurity? No one. Cybersecurity practices are constantly evolving. Do not underestimate cybersecurity research and innovation as it is a critical investment. When you implement a cybersecurity practice, don't assume that it is enough to leave and come back months or years later. Constantly revise your cybersecurity strategies and what is new and working in the market to avoid unpredictable attacks.
**To recapitulate: **
Cybersecurity is not only concerned with the stealing, extortion, and leaking of data. It goes beyond that. While Cybercriminals’ incentive is still to gain some sort of benefit from taking control over crucial databases, they want more than ever to distort entire systems and applications. This could make it difficult for a company to recover. Unfortunately, once the damage has been done to you as an individual or to your company, it can be difficult to recover. Cyberattacks could impact your company in many ways such as causing a financial crisis, damaging your reputation, or demotivating your employees overall.
We hope that this article gives you a sense of what is cybersecurity, its types, and how you can protect your business or yourself from cybercriminals.
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Sources: NSA, Forbes, IT Governance, Wired and Gartner.