Despite cybersecurity appearing to be the buzzword de jure of the last decade, its importance cannot be overstated. There are almost daily reports of governments and companies being hacked by both private and government actors, so it has become a dominant element in most business operations. This post will briefly discuss cybersecurity and some vital things you need to know to protect your company adequately.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting computer systems from the unwanted use of information technology. It is a constantly changing field with new threats emerging every day. Although it encompasses many different areas with different goals, it generally includes computer and network security, information assurance, privacy, cryptography, digital forensics, and incident response. It can broadly be divided into five different categories:
- Security of critical infrastructure
- Securing applications
- Securing networks
- Security for cloud computing
- Security of IoT (Internet of Things)
As you can see, cybersecurity is vital in securing all of the things that make up modern life. Unfortunately, it is a cat and mouse game with cybersecurity experts constantly attempting to stay ahead of hacks, data theft, and general malfeasance. Now that you have a rudimentary understanding of what it is, let’s take a closer look at some of the details.
You Don’t Have To Go It Alone
Many larger organizations will have departments dedicated to securing their sensitive systems. However, many small to medium-sized companies tend to lack the ability or capital to invest in their own security (aside from the most basic forms). Fortunately, it is possible to outsource this task to specialist companies that can advise and secure based on requirement and cost. According to this Denver-based MSSP, full-cycle management (a complete process that begins with a consultation and includes ongoing support) enables companies to utilize the skills of a managed security service provider to safeguard sensitive systems and ensure zero lost productivity due to attacks. Most of these MSSPs have varying scales to accommodate different-sized businesses with different budgets.
Humans Are Often The Weakest Link
The human element is often a weak link in cybersecurity. No matter how many systems are in place, attacks often occur due to employees’ negligence. One of the most prominent methods hackers use to access company data is social engineering attacks. Social engineering is a form of social manipulation involving deception, often in combination with other methods such as fraud, to elicit information or compliance from people. These attacks are gaining popularity due to the rise of social media and the ease of access it provides to people. They can be carried out by a hacker or an imposter who poses as someone else to gain access to information or resources.
Basic Training Is Usually Enough
Following on from the previous point, businesses can often primitively thwart many types of attacks by initiating some form of cyber security training in their organization. Cyber security training can help employees better understand how to avoid, detect and mitigate cyber threats. It can also help them identify potential risks and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from malicious attacks.
The Simplest Threats Can Undermine A Company’s Ability To Operate
When most people think of hacking and cybercrime, they often imagine elaborate hacks that involve large teams of highly skilled individuals. However, it is often the most basic form of attack that causes the most disturbance to business operations in many cases. For instance, a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) is an attack in which the perpetrator uses multiple compromised computers to overwhelm a target machine with more requests than it can process. A DDOS can be used for many different purposes, including extortion, cyber warfare, and industrial sabotage. Regardless of the motivation, it is a relatively straightforward attack to initiate but can cause untold damage in terms of downtime. The good news is that there are many techniques a company can use to minimize downtime caused by such attacks. And including rudimentary options like using a CDN, configuring server-level protection, and making use of cloud technology.
There Are Numerous Different Threats
Cybercrime comes in many different guises, each with differing levels of damage or intent. Some of the most well-known include:
- DDOS: As discussed previously
- Malware: This is a type of software that is designed to damage or disrupt computer operation. It can be used for many purposes like stealing personal information, destroying data, and even controlling an infected system.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is an attack on a computer or device that encrypts your important files and demands a ransom to decrypt them.
- Man in the middle: A man-in-the-middle attack is a type of cyberattack that occurs when an attacker interposes their own computer between two parties communicating over an insecure network.
- Rootkits: This treat is not new, and they have been around for many years. What has changed recently is that now there are more people with access to rootkits. And making them more dangerous than before.
Outdated Systems Are A Massive Cause Of Concern
One of the most common causes of security breaches is outdated systems. The most vulnerable systems are those that are not updated with the latest security patches and software. In some ways, this comes back to human error, but the fact remains that companies fail to update software. Or install the latest security patches are far more vulnerable to attack than those who actively update.
Hacks Can Have Unquantifiable Ripple Effects
Cyber hacks can have an unquantifiable ripple effect on society. These hacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. And it is not only the risk of a hack that is increasing but also the consequences. Hacking can lead to cyber terrorism, identity theft, or even physical destruction. It can also lead to data breaches or data manipulation. These are all severe consequences that need to be addressed by a team of experts in order for them to be remedied. This can be seen in the SolarWinds attack that is still being forensically examined two years after it occurred. Hacks of this magnitude have unforeseen effects and can ripple far into future events, making them extremely challenging to remedy.
Cybercrime is a massive problem, and there is much more to be done. A cyberattack can cause reputational harm, economic harm, and physical harm. Cybercriminals are becoming more skilled in exploiting vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, there are numerous and straightforward actions that businesses. And individuals can take to reduce the chances of an attack or lessen the impact if they occur.