Cybersecurity in a Nutshell
Learn What is Cybersecurity and Understand it in Details.
Cybersecurity Comes Into Play To Combat Cyber Threat
Cyber Threats- Introduction
The news of cyber threats and cyber-attacks are hitting the news headlines every day. The volume of cyber threats is increasing with time, and various organizations are being targeted by the adversaries using varied types of techniques to infiltrate the network structure of the organization. So, what does ‘cyber threat’ actually mean? Let us discuss it in detail.
Understanding Cyber Threat
In simple words, Cybersecurity Threat can be understood as a malicious act that is initiated by the adversaries with the primary objective to destroy the data, steal the data, compromise the sensitive information, or in general to make disruption in the digital life of an organization or user. The cyber threat is made successful by the cyber attackers by exploiting the vulnerability in the network system of the user. Cyber-attacks can be of many types like viruses, malware, denial-of-service-attacks, etc.
Modern Trends In Cyber Threats
The word Cyber Threat, in the contemporary world, is used explicitly for matters concerning information security. With the advancement in technology and everything becoming digital, the attacks are also becoming digital. Two decades earlier, who would have thought that an attack can even be initiated by using the digital signals moving through a wire.
With time, technology is developing, and so are cyber threats. The cyber threats are evolving at a fast pace, and new types of attacks appear every day. Most of the cyber-attacks are created using a similar cyber-attack structure, which is being dealt with in the next topic, but several new and more powerful attacks can be seen nowadays.
In the most recent trend, Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) is the latest type of threat that is harming several users these days. This threat can be explained as the act in which the cybercriminals hides in the network of the user for a long time and stays there persistently stealing a large amount of data of the user. The most problematic thing about such an attack is that detecting it is very difficult as its connection with the network cannot be checked simply by updating the software or rebooting the computer.
Kinds Of Cybersecurity Threats And Attacks
There are a variety of cybersecurity threats by which the hackers infiltrate the information system of the organization. The various types of cyber-attacks employed by hackers are as follows:
Malware can be understood as a malicious program that includes viruses, spyware, worms, ransomware, etc. Malware can get inside the system network of a user by taking advantage of the vulnerability. For example, when the user clicks on a malicious link or attachment of an email, the malicious software installs itself into the system of the user. Once the malware enters the system then:
- It can restrict the user’s access to the vital components of the network.
- It can install other threatening software in the network.
- It can steal data from the network by transmitting it to the hacker.
- It can disrupt the functioning and operations of the system.
Viruses are a kind of malicious software that is created with the sole purpose of damaging the information system of the user. The main point that must be noted here is that the virus has the capability to replicate itself by attaching to various files on the information system and then infecting the whole system by corrupting files as well as stealing private data.
Table of contents
- Cybersecurity in a Nutshell
- Learn What is Cybersecurity and Understand it in Details.
- Cybersecurity Comes Into Play To Combat Cyber Threat
- Kinds Of Cybersecurity Threats And Attacks
- Cybersecurity - The Safeguard Against Cyber Threats
- Enjoy Your Digital Life By Defending Interpersonal Information
- Security Of Personal Data Online
- Keep All The Software And Internet Security Package Up-To-Date
- Follow The Do’s And Don’ts Of Cyber Security and Stay Protected From Cyber Threats
- Handling Cyber Bullying With Patience
- Identity Protection While Playing Online Games, Using Social Media Platforms, and Using Messaging Apps
- Securing Devices - Fool-Proof Cybersecurity Plan For Various Devices
- Global Impact Of Cyber Attacks
As the name suggests, spyware spies on the computing habits of the user. It enters the system when the user downloads software from a malicious website and installs it in the information system. The main work of the spyware is to collect vital information of the user like the usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, bank details, etc. and transmit it to the cyber attackers.
Adware is another malware that generates pop-up advertisements on the computer screen of the user. Whenever you notice strange pop-up messages on your computer, you may be under the attack of adware. The objective of the adware is to get permission from the user to enter into the system and install additional malicious software. It can also be used to slow down the working of the user system by filling the screen with unusual or unwanted advertisements.
Trojans are the malware programs that deceive the user by looking like an important and harmless software. Once the user installs the malicious software, the Trojan can delete essential files of the user, steal data, and can even grant unauthorized access to the hackers.
Ransomware is the malware that is the most common and widespread as compared to other cyber threats. In this attack, the malicious software encrypts the critical files of the user and then notifies the user about it. While making a notification about the locked files, the cybercriminals demand payment for decrypting the data. The main objective of a ransomware attack is monetary.
Phishing is an email-borne attack under which the attacker uses the Social Engineering technique and makes the user click on a malicious link or an attachment in the email. When the link is clicked, malware is downloaded into the information system, which can then steal the private information of the user.
Spear phishing is a step ahead of phishing. The attacker researches and learns about the user and then sends an email impersonating an entity or person which the user trusts or knows.
In the Man-In-The-Middle attack, the attacker creates a position in the middle of the electronic messages of the sender and the receiver. The attacker then gets access to the messages and may change the content. The sender and the receiver remain in the misconception that they are directly interacting with each other, but, in reality, a middleman intercepts their messages.
Under a Denial-of-Service-Attack, the adversaries fill the networks, the system, or the server of the user with a lot of traffic, which results in the inability of the user to execute essential functions as well as requests and exhausts the resources of the user. This type of attack can also be initiated by using multiple compromised devices, which is known as a Distributed-Denial-of-Service attack.
To initiate a Zero-day attack, zero-day malware is used, and a vulnerability that is unknown to the user previously is exploited. As the vulnerability is hidden to the user, there will be no patch or security measure developed by the organization to repair it. Due to the absence of security patches, the malware can infect and take control of the system quickly.
Identity theft is related to stealing the personal data of the user from the social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, etc. The stolen information about the user can be used by the attacker to create a fake image of the user or to impersonate the user.
Cybersecurity – The Safeguard Against Cyber Threats
With the increase in the number of cyber-attacks, the need for cybersecurity is also increasing. We can understand cybersecurity as the practice of safeguarding and securing:
- Information systems.
- Mobile and portable devices.
- Electronic systems and devices.
- Private and sensitive data.
Cyber Security can also be called Information Technology Security or Electronic Information Security.
Categories of Information Technology Security
Information Technology Security is categorized into the following types:
Network security is related to safeguarding information networks from cyber attackers and malicious software.
The software which is compromised can leak a lot of valuable data that it contains. Hence, application security is needed to secure software as well as devices from any threats. Such a security measure should be implemented well before the application or software is installed.
Information Security is essential to keep the data’s privacy as well as integrity safe and secure during transit along with storage.
Operation security is related to the processes, along with decisions taken by the user concerning the management and protection of data. It includes security concerning the permissions granted to the user while using the network and the procedures regarding storage and sharing of data.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
When the organization becomes a target of a cyber-attack, which results in loss of data as well as operation, then the disaster recovery policy is the only thing that can put the business back on its original operational capacity by restoring the business information and operations. When some resources are lacking, which is hampering the operations of the business, then a business continuity plan comes into the picture to operate the business with the available resources.
Education Of End-User
People or Employees are the most basic, common, and unpredictable factor of cybersecurity. Any cybersecurity measure will fail if the user himself will not follow the best practices safeguarding the data. Hence, the education of end-user is the most crucial factor of all.
Enjoy Your Digital Life By Defending Interpersonal Information
Security Of Personal Data Online
To enjoy your online experience to the fullest, the following safeguards must be followed:
Cybercriminals usually disguise themselves to be some legitimate and authorized entity that you trust. They send you an email that contains a malicious link or attachment. If the user clicks on the link, then either the malware gets downloaded into the system, or the user will be directed to a malicious website where he will be asked to enter personal information. It is always advised to:
- Not open any suspicious email,
- Check for spelling errors or grammatical mistake because reputed entities don’t make such mistakes,
- Check the URL before opening it,
- Verify the sender, etc.
It is a good step if you keep your browser secure. Whenever an online transaction is initiated by you, always use encryption software to keep your payment safe. A ‘lock’ icon in the status bar of the browser means that your data transmission is secured. Hence, always check for that icon before sending or receiving any personal or financial information.
Create A Strong Password And Keep It Private
Whenever you create a password, always keep in mind to make it complex so that cyber attackers don’t crack it easily. Creating a password that includes a combination of numbers, symbols, and upper, as well as lower case characters is always considered good. Don’t share your password with anyone and use different passwords for different accounts.
The same password for all the accounts will mean that if the hacker cracks one account’s password, then all of your other accounts can also be easily compromised.
If you share too much information about your life on social media, then it can prove to be fatal for you. The information that you upload can be used against you by the identity thief to answer the security questions of your account and can get access to your personal and financial information easily.
Always keep in mind to never post your mobile number, address, social security number, full name, account details, and other personal data to any of the publicly accessible websites or social media platforms.
Keep All The Software And Internet Security Package Up-To-Date
Keeping the software up-to-date helps in fixing the vulnerability in the software. Hence, the cybercriminals are unable to take advantage of any vulnerability and steal your personal information from the software. Updating the internet security package helps in securing the network from the latest cyber-attacks.
Follow The Do’s And Don’ts Of Cyber Security and Stay Protected From Cyber Threats
The following do’s and don’ts of cybersecurity will add up in securing your sensitive personal information:
- Always look for the “https” encryption/padlock icon at the beginning of the URL/status bar to ensure that the connection is secure.
- Always keep the passwords complex.
- Keep your official email account and social media email account separate.
- Do not use open and insecure Wi-Fi connections for money transactions or shopping.
- Do not download any free software. Research about the software first and then download it from the official website, which is verified by the publisher.
- While accessing any bank related website, do not visit the site using the link on any email or message. Always manually type the URL and visit the website.
- Do not click on links or attachments of a suspicious email.
- Always take a backup of your important files regularly.
- Don’t share any personal information on any social media platform.
- Avoid ticking checkboxes of ‘keep me logged in’ or ‘remember me’ on any website you visit.
- Name, date of birth, address, or any other easily guessed information should never be used as a password.
- Don’t click on any pop-up advertisements.
- Don’t visit any suspicious websites or websites which are not secure.
- Don’t forget to logout from your account after using it. Doing it is essential when you are using any public computer.
- Avoid installing software which comes as an attachment of a suspicious, unauthentic email.
- One should never save credit or debit card details on any website or web browser.
- Never share any one-time password (OTP), bank details, personal information, financial details, etc., on any phone call, or message, or email.
Handling Cyber Bullying With Patience
Bullying was not common, but it has changed now. Cyber Bullying is the bullying on social media platforms, which can affect children as well as adults to a great extent. Posting rude comments or bullying on a platform where the whole world can see you can make the bullied person feel depressed and can have a loss of self-esteem too. Hence, cyberbullying is an issue that needs to be taken care of under cybersecurity. To handle cyberbullying, one should keep in mind the following points:
- Don’t take revenge and make a nasty response to any post because it will make the situation worse.
- Based on rude comments, don’t question your own beliefs and don’t take them personally.
- Don’t keep on reading the same rude comment again and again as it can lead to obsession.
- Develop an understanding that different people can have different beliefs and views.
- Take a break from social media and give yourself some time.
- It is not technology that makes you a victim of cyberbullying; it is all about mindset.
Cybersecurity Measures For Online Gaming
Online games can become a means of cyber threat, and the personal identity of the gamer can be compromised. To keep the personal identity safe while playing online games, keep the following points in mind:
- Cheat codes and similar programs can be fatal as the website from which you are downloading them can contain viruses and spyware, which can compromise your private identity.
- The gamer should always use a fake identity while registering for the game, instead of entering personal information.
- Online games include the interaction between various gamers. So, beware of cyberbullying.
- Always use original games instead of pirated ones. Pirated games may contain malware which enters your information and steal your private data.
- Never open a suspicious link that pops up while playing an online game.
Enjoy Safe And Secure Messaging- Cybersecurity Of Messaging Apps
Messaging apps are the most common way of communication these days, and therefore, it is necessary to keep your messaging data safe and secure:
- Use the app with end to end encryption to keep the messages secure.
- Keep in mind that your encrypted messages are not encrypted when you backup them on any cloud service. Hence, the government can ask your cloud service provider to turn your messages down, if necessary. If you don’t want that, then do not take a backup of messages on the cloud.
- Many messaging apps have desktop versions too. There can be many bugs in the desktop versions of the app, which can result in compromising data. Hence, avoid using desktop versions of messaging apps.
- Encryption may keep your messages safe, but it can also be cracked if your phone is stolen or compromised. Hence, it is good to set the message expiry timer so that the messages can get deleted after some time.
- Keep the application updated so that bugs and other vulnerabilities can b fixed, and no hacker can take advantage of them.
The social media platform is the most common way to keep in touch with your friends and family. But, this platform can also be used to exploit you and your data. Take some time and think about it; the social media sites have a lot of information which can be used against you by the person with malicious intent. The information that can be easily accessed from your social media account includes:
- Your full name.
- Status of your relationship.
- Your work-place.
- Likes and dislikes.
- Information relating to friends and family members.
- Race and religion from which you belong.
- Places you have visited.
- Your political viewpoints, etc.
All the above-stated information can be used by an adversary to send you a phishing email, phone call, message, etc. and can gain your trust, eventually making you a victim of cyber threat. Hence, think twice before you post your personal information on any social media website.
Securing Devices – Fool-Proof Cybersecurity Plan For Various Devices
In this digital world, you use many devices in your daily life. All of these devices contain your essential data, which should remain safe. To keep your data safe, you have to secure your devices:
Security Of Workstations
- Make sure that devices like laptops, desktops, etc. connected with your workstation follow the minimum standards of device security.
- Never share any password or other sensitive information through email.
- Always take periodic backups of the data.
- The backup devices also need to be secured.
- Avoid clicking on any suspicious links, emails, or attachments.
- Use a strong password.
- Never forward any suspicious link that may contain viruses or malware to other colleagues.
- Use original software and not the pirated ones as pirated software can easily be compromised and may contain some malicious programs.
Security Of Laptops And Desktops
- Keep the software and security patches up-to-date.
- Antivirus software should be used and updated.
- Anti-spyware software can also be used for enhanced security.
- The firewall of the software should be kept enabled all the time.
- A strong and complex password should be set.
- Use the original version of Windows or other OS and not the pirated ones.
- System configuration settings, along with the browser settings, should also be secured.
Security Of Mobile Phones
- The mobile phone should be locked with a password, fingerprint, or face detection.
- Encrypt the data on your phone.
- Consider enabling remote wipe feature. If your phone is stolen or lost, then this feature can enable you to wipe all the data from your phone so that it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
- Backing up the data on your phone is also necessary.
- Avoid rooting the mobile phone as it can make the security structure of the phone vulnerable.
- Keep the phone updated using the latest patches sent by the manufacturer.
- Avoid using any open or unsecured Wi-Fi.
- Download antivirus or anti-malware software for securing your mobile phone.
Security Of Smart Devices Like Home Or Office Routers, Smart Watches, etc.
- Give the router a different and unrelated name. Don’t stick with the name given by the manufacturer.
- The encryption method for Wi-Fi should be robust.
- Create a separate guest network for friends as well as relatives and keep your private network separate.
- The password for smart devices should be unique and strong.
- Set the privacy as well as the security settings of the smart devices properly.
- Do not enable all the features of your smart device. Only enable those features which you use. Enabling something which you don’t know can prove to be fatal.
- Keep the software updated.
- The two-step authentication method must be followed.
- Using public Wi-Fi should be avoided.
Secure Online Banking Practices
- The bank accounts you use must have two-factor authentications.
- A secure password must be set.
- Use security software for the computer from which you are accessing your bank account.
- Don’t click on any link sent to you via email. Access the bank account by manually typing the official URL.
- Only access the account from a location that has secured network connection.
- Don’t forget to log out of the account when the work is completed.
- Enable notification alerts so that you get notified whenever there is an activity going on in your account.
Global Impact Of Cyber Attacks
We have discussed in detail about various cyber threats, cybersecurity, personal data protection, privacy protection, and securing the devices to defend from cyber-attacks. However, in spite of taking so many protective measures, the cyber attackers still manage to make cyber-attacks successful. The rate of cybercrimes is increasing at a fast pace, and with this continuous increase, it can have a global impact.
Think of a situation where the cyber attacker manages to take over the network of the government of a country. Then the whole nation will come on its feet. The principal business industries of a country, if becomes victims of a cyber-attack, can have a significant loss and can affect the entire country. An MNC with branches all over the world, if compromised by a cyber-attack, can affect the whole globe. The organization can face several types of losses like:
- The leak of corporate data.
- The leak of financial data of the organization, which includes the bank and payment card-related details of the clients and customers.
- Financial loss.
- Disruption in trading activities like the inability to process online transactions.
- Inability to continue the business operations properly.
- Loss of reputation of the organization.
- Loyal customers may leave the enterprise.
- Reduction in the sales of the organization.
- The profit margins of the organization may also get reduced.
- The organization may also face legal consequences under protection as well as privacy laws because of the inability to secure personal data of staff, clients, and customers.