Cyber security is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks. It’s also known as information technology security or electronic information security. The term applies in a variety of contexts, from business to mobile computing, and can be divided into a few common categories.
· Network security is the practice of securing a computer network from intruders, whether targeted attackers or opportunistic malware.
· Application security focuses on keeping software and devices free of threats. A compromised application could provide access to the data its designed to protect. Successful security begins in the design stage, well before a program or device is deployed.
· Information security protects the integrity and privacy of data, both in storage and in transit.
· Operational security includes the processes and decisions for handling and protecting data assets. The permissions users have when accessing a network and the procedures that determine how and where data may be stored or shared all fall under this umbrella.
· Disaster recovery and business continuity define how an organization responds to a cyber-security incident or any other event that causes the loss of operations or data. Disaster recovery policies dictate how the organization restores its operations and information to return to the same operating capacity as before the event. Business continuity is the plan the organization falls back on while trying to operate without certain resources.
· End-user education addresses the most unpredictable cyber-security factor: people. Anyone can accidentally introduce a virus to an otherwise secure system by failing to follow good security practices. Teaching users to delete suspicious email attachments, not plug in unidentified USB drives, and various other important lessons is vital for the security of any organization.
Types of cyber threats
The threats countered by cyber-security are three-fold:
1. Cybercrime includes single actors or groups targeting systems for financial gain or to cause disruption.
2. Cyber-attack often involves politically motivated information gathering.
3. Cyberterrorism is intended to undermine electronic systems to cause panic or fear.
So, how do malicious actors gain control of computer systems? Here are some common methods used to threaten cyber-security:
Malware means malicious software. One of the most common cyber threats, malware is software that a cybercriminal or hacker has created to disrupt or damage a legitimate user’s computer. Often spread via an unsolicited email attachment or legitimate-looking download, malware may be used by cybercriminals to make money or in politically motivated cyber-attacks.
There are a number of different types of malware, including:
· Virus: A self-replicating program that attaches itself to clean file and spreads throughout a computer system, infecting files with malicious code.
· Trojans: A type of malware that is disguised as legitimate software. Cybercriminals trick users into uploading Trojans onto their computer where they cause damage or collect data.
· Spyware: A program that secretly records what a user does, so that cybercriminals can make use of this information. For example, spyware could capture credit card details.
· Ransomware: Malware which locks down a user’s files and data, with the threat of erasing it unless a ransom is paid.
· Adware: Advertising software which can be used to spread malware.
· Botnets: Networks of malware infected computers which cybercriminals use to perform tasks online without the user’s tapermission.
An SQL (structured language query) injection is a type of cyber-attack used to take control of and steal data from a database. Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in data-driven applications to insert malicious code into a databased via a malicious SQL statement. This gives them access to the sensitive information contained in the database.
Phishing is when cybercriminals target victims with emails that appear to be from a legitimate company asking for sensitive information. Phishing attacks are often used to dupe people into handing over credit card data and other personal information.
A man-in-the-middle attack is a type of cyber threat where a cybercriminal intercepts communication between two individuals in order to steal data. For example, on an unsecure WiFi network, an attacker could intercept data being passed from the victim’s device and the network.
A denial-of-service attack is where cybercriminals prevent a computer system from fulfilling legitimate requests by overwhelming the networks and servers with traffic. This renders the system unusable, preventing an organization from carrying out vital functions.
Cyber safety tips – protect yourself against cyberattacks
How can businesses and individuals guard against cyber threats? Here are our top cyber safety tips:
1. Update your software and operating system: This means you benefit from the latest security patches.
2. Use anti-virus software: Security solutions like Kaspersky Total Security will detect and removes threats. Keep your software updated for the best level of protection.
3. Use strong passwords: Ensure your passwords are not easily guessable.
4. Do not open email attachments from unknown senders: These could be infected with malware.
5. Do not click on links in emails from unknown senders or unfamiliar websites: This is a common way that malware is spread.
6. Avoid using unsecure WiFi networks in public places: Unsecure networks leave you vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.
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