What Is Cybersecurity and How Does It Work?

What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity refers to measures taken to protect internet-connected devices, networks, and data from unauthorized access and criminal use. Additionally, cybersecurity ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data over its entire life cycle.

Cybersecurity applies to both software and hardware, as well as information on the internet. It can be used to protect everything from personal information to complex government systems.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The steps used to protect devices, networks, and data from unwanted access and unlawful usage are referred to as cybersecurity.
  • Cybersecurity refers to a set of safeguards that prevent cybercriminals from breaking into computers and other linked devices and stealing sensitive data.
  • Cybersecurity precautions include password protection and encryption.
  • Phishing, malware, eavesdropping assaults, and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks are all common types of cyberattacks.

Understanding Cybersecurity

Preventing, detecting, and responding to cyberattacks are all part of cybersecurity measures. Hackers can gain access to any information stored on an internet-connected device, computer system, or network.

This can be avoided if the necessary safeguards are in place. Because the world is more reliant on computers than ever before, cybersecurity is now more important than ever.

Cybersecurity can be simple or complicated. Most gadgets come with password protection as a fundamental security feature to avoid hacking. Another simple strategy to avoid cyberattacks is to keep software up to date.

Specific precautions may be done if a system is attacked or is at risk of being attacked, depending on the type of attack.

One approach to prevent attacks is to encrypt data, and certain antivirus software can identify unusual behavior online and block most software attacks.

In order to ensure that a system is secure, it’s essential to understand the risks and vulnerabilities inherent to that specific device or network and whether or not hackers can exploit those vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity measures must constantly adjust to new technologies and developments to stay one step ahead, as hackers adapt their methods to new forms of cybersecurity and render it ineffective.

Types of Cyberattacks

Cyberattacks can have wide-ranging effects on individuals, businesses, and government organizations, including monetary loss, identity theft, and reputational damage.

They are classified by the method used to attack. While there are many types of cyberattacks, some of the most common include:

Phishing

Phishing occurs when an email or text appears to be sent from a reputable source. The goal of phishing is to trick the recipient into sharing sensitive information like credit card details and login credentials or to install malware on the victim’s machine. Phishing is one of the most common attacks on consumers.

Malware

Malware is malicious software intended to cause damage to a computer or network. Types of malware include viruses, worms, spyware, and ransomware. Malware can find its way onto computers when a user clicks a link or email attachment that installs malicious software.

Once inside the system, malware can block access to key components of the network (ransomware), covertly obtain information by transmitting data from the hard drive (spyware), disrupt components, and render the system inoperable.

Eavesdropping Attacks

An eavesdropping attack (aka a man-in-the-middle attack) is when a hacker intercepts, deletes, or modifies data as it is transmitted over a network by a computer, smartphone, or other connected devices.

Cybercriminals take advantage of unsecured network communications to access data as it is being sent or received by its user.

Often, eavesdropping occurs when a user connects to a network that is not secured or encrypted and sends sensitive business data to a colleague.

Eavesdropping attacks can be hard to spot because, unlike some other cyberattacks, the presence of a listening device may not affect the device or network performance.

Denial-of-service attacks

Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks target devices, information systems, and other network resources to prevent legitimate users from accessing services and resources. This is typically accomplished by flooding the server and host with traffic to the point that it becomes inoperable or crashes.

DoS attacks are system-on-system attacks, meaning they originate from a single location and target a single system.

Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are similar, but the attack comes from multiple remote machines (zombies or bots). These attacks can be deployed much faster—and with more traffic—than DoS attacks, so they are typically harder to detect than DoS attacks.

241,342

The number of people who fell victim to phishing scams in 2020, according to the FBI. This is up from 114,700 in 2019, a 110% increase year-over-year. The Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, receives an average of 440,000 complaints each year, representing losses of $4.2 billion in 2020 alone.

Common Targets of Cyberattacks

While any individual system is at some level of cyberattack risk, larger entities such as businesses and government systems are often the targets of these attacks since they store a lot of valuable information.

To secure sensitive government information from other countries, nation-states, and individual hackers, the Department of Homeland Security, for example, employs high-tech cybersecurity techniques.

As thieves aim to profit from insecure company systems, cybercrime is on the rise. Many criminals are on the lookout for ransom money. According to a survey from cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks, the average ransomware payment hit a new high of $570,000 in the first half of 2021.

Any financial system that keeps credit card information from its users is at risk because hackers can use this information to steal money directly from people’s accounts.

Because they retain personal information about their vast network of employees, large organizations are frequently targeted.

The industries with the most cyberattacks over the past five years are healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, government, and transportation.

Retail, legal, education, media and entertainment, oil and gas, and energy and utilities are expected to be among the top-10 cyber-attacked industries by 2022.

What Is the Difference Between Dos and DDos?

Both types of attacks overload a server or web application, interrupting services for legitimate users. A DoS (denial-of-service) attack comes from a single location, so it’s easier to detect its origin and sever the connection.

DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks originate from multiple locations. They are faster to deploy and can send much larger amounts of traffic simultaneously, so they are harder to detect and shut down.

FAQS

What Is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting internet-connected systems, devices, networks, and data from unauthorized access and criminal use. 

Is Cybersecurity a Good Career?

Due to ongoing and increasing cybersecurity threats, the industry has a very promising career outlook. There are not enough skilled people to fill cybersecurity jobs, so professionals are likely to find jobs easily.

On Oct. 28, 2021, Microsoft announced plans to cut the cybersecurity workforce shortage in half by 2025 by partnering with community colleges across the U.S. and providing free resources to help end the shortage.

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