The word "cybersecurity" gets thrown around a lot, but what is it exactly? Cybersecurity is a wide field that contains multiple disciplines. Cybersecurity isn't so much defined by what people in the field do but more by what they aim to accomplish.
As the name suggests, cybersecurity is about protecting digital assets. This includes protecting the hardware and all the information on that hardware. Cybersecurity also attempts to prevent the malicious disruption of computer systems.
The Key Cyber Threats
There are essentially three main types of cyber threat. The type most normal people have to deal with is Cybercrime. These are perpetrated by individuals or groups and generally have the goal of making money through criminal activity. Phishing scams, data breaches to steal identities and credit card info, and any other attack with criminal intent. They would fall under this category.
Next, we have Cyberwarfare. These cyber attacks usually have some sort of political motivation. They can be perpetrated by governments or any other political entity. The Stuxnet worm attack on scientific and manufacturing equipment is an example of this.
Finally, we have Cyberterrorism. The goal here is the same as it is with terrorism in the physical world. The attackers want to cause panic, confusion, and fear without necessarily having any specific political or financial goal.
Key Areas of Cybersecurity Practice
The field of cybersecurity is both wide and deep. People from all backgrounds have roles in this world. But, there are a few key areas that tend to attract specialists of one type or another:
- Network security is probably the best-known face of cybersecurity. This is where intruders that enter through network systems are stopped.
- Software security is the area where software applications are developed and maintained in such a way as to prevent attacks.
- InfoSec (information security) deals with the systems, methods, and technologies that protect data, where data is stored, and while it's on the move.
- OpSec (operational security) is the area of the field that focuses on the processes and policies that are put in place to make attacks harder to pull off.
- User Education is the area of cybersecurity about equipping regular users with knowledge - what they need to prevent unintended security issues through scams, malicious software, or other common attack vectors.
- Recovery - if things do go wrong, recovery specialists help craft plans to get things back online as quickly as possible. Critical for ransomware attacks or any destructive hacking.
There are always new areas and even more sub-specializations. Hackers evolve as new attacks and technologies are developed. However, these main areas cover the bulk of things.
Common Cyberattack Forms
These three goals are quite different. However, all perpetrators use essentially the same set of tools to accomplish what they set out to do. These are some of the common attack methods:
- Malware includes viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, ransomware, adware, and botnets.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks happen where the attacker intercepts and steal or modifies communication between two legitimate communicators.
- Denial of service attacks - where attackers flood servers with requests, paralyzing their services for everyone else.
- Social engineering is where humans who have access to information and resources are fooled into giving them up. Phishing is a common example, but there are endless scam types.
- Brute force attacks mean that stolen information passwords are cracked by systematically guessing the decryption key using sophisticated software and high-performance computers.
There are, of course, many variations and more niche types of attacks. Still, this will give you a good idea of the typical cybersecurity threats.
General Cybersecurity Tips
So you aren't a cybersecurity specialist. But you still want to do your part to keep yourself, your family, and your employer or business safe. There are quite a few things you can do. These methods will help reduce the chances that you'll become the victim of a cybercrime.
We'd suggest you check out our internet safety bootcamp, but let's list a few key tips right here:
- Always keep your operating system and devices up to date.
- Always have antivirus and antimalware software installed.
- Use a password manager to keep and generate strong passwords.
- Do not open email attachments you aren't 100% sure are safe.
- Don't click links in unsolicited emails or instant messages.
- Avoid public WiFi or make use of a good VPN.
There's a lot more than that! However, these basic rules are good at keeping you out of harm's way. At least for the majority of modern cyber-attack threats. Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field. So be sure to bookmark Technadu for all the latest news and information about privacy and security.