Why Is Cybersecurity Important?
By Shafiya Nawzer
Let’s face it; we live in a digital world. Our work lives, personal lives, and finances have all begun gravitating toward the world of the internet, mobile computing, and electronic media. Unfortunately, this widespread phenomenon makes us more vulnerable than ever to malicious attacks, invasions of privacy, fraud, and other such risks.
Cybersecurity is the state or process of protecting and recovering computer systems, networks, devices, and programmes from any type of cyber attack. Cyber attacks are an increasingly sophisticated and evolving danger to your sensitive data, as attackers employ new methods powered by social engineering and artificial intelligence to circumvent traditional security controls.
According to a report cybercrime damages projected to exceed $6 trillion by 2021, it’s no wonder banks, tech companies, hospitals, government agencies, and just about every other sector are investing in cybersecurity infrastructure to protect their business practices.
The importance of cybersecurity
Cybersecurity’s importance is on the rise. Fundamentally, our society is more technologically reliant than ever before and there is no sign that this trend will slow. Personal data that could result in identity theft is now posted to the public on our social media accounts. Sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card information, and bank account details are now stored in cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
The fact of the matter is whether you are an individual, small business, or large multinational, you rely on computer systems every day. Pair this with the rise in cloud services, poor cloud service security, smartphones, and the Internet of Things (IoT) and we have a myriad of cybersecurity threats that didn’t exist a few decades ago. We need to understand the difference between cybersecurity and information security, even though the skill sets are becoming more similar.
Types of cyberattacks
Cyberattacks come in all shapes and sizes. Some may be overt ransomware attacks (hijacking important business products or tools in exchange for money to release them), while some are covert operations by which criminals infiltrate a system to gain valuable data. Criminals are getting craftier with their malicious deeds and here are some of the basic types of cyberattacks affecting thousands of people each day.
Malware - Malware is used to describe malicious software, including spyware, ransomware, and viruses. It usually breaches networks through vulnerability, like clicking on suspicious email links or installing a risky application. Once inside a network, malware can obtain sensitive information, further produce more harmful software throughout the system, and can even block access to vital business network components (ransomware).
Phishing - Phishing is the practice of sending malicious communications (usually emails) designed to appear from reputable, well-known sources. These emails use the same names, logos, wording, etc., as a CEO or company to dull suspicions and get victims to click on harmful links. Once a phishing link is clicked, cybercriminals have access to sensitive data like credit cards, social security, or login information.
Social Engineering - Social engineering is the process of psychologically manipulating people into divulging personal information. Phishing is a form of social engineering, where criminals take advantage of people’s natural curiosity or trust. An example of more advanced social engineering is with voice manipulation. In this case, cybercriminals take an individual’s voice (from sources like a voicemail or social media post) and manipulate it to call friends or relatives and ask for a credit card or other personal information.
Man-in-the-Middle Attack - Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks occur when criminals interrupt the traffic between two-party transactions. For example, criminals can insert themselves between a public Wi-Fi and an individual’s device. Without a protected Wi-Fi connection, cybercriminals can sometimes view all of a victim’s information without ever being caught.
Zero-day attack - Zero-day attacks are becoming more-and-more common. Essentially, these attacks occur between a network vulnerability announcement and a patch solution. In the name of transparency and security, most companies will announce that they found a problem with their network safety, but some criminals will take this opportunity to unleash attacks before the company can come up with a security patch.
What Does Good Cyber-Security Look Like?
Considering the dizzying number of cyberattacks, you can see the importance of employing active cybersecurity measures. Fortunately, there are many useful cybersecurity methods that you can practices both at home and work. Keep these in mind, and you’ll reduce the likelihood of having a cybercrime on your hands.
Practice good password selection
Do you still have a ‘password’ as your default password? The ideal strong password is between 8 and 12 characters and includes upper and lower case letters, at least one number, and a unique character (such as !?, @). Don’t use simple passwords, and don’t use anything based on easy to find information about yourself.
Keep your Wi-Fi secure
Don’t forget to protect your Wi-Fi network. Use WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) for your security method.
Install antivirus software
Fortunately, many internet providers bundle in some halfway decent antivirus software with their service. If your provider doesn’t, then pick up something from Norton, McAfee, or Symantec; it’s not expensive, and it’ll pay for itself in the long run. Also, when you install the programme, make sure it’s running.
Avoid suspicious emails and texts
Don’t recognise the email address or the phone number of the text sender? Don’t open it up, don’t reply. Don’t do anything other than deleting it! Many of these are the opening gambit in a phishing scam or identity theft attempt.
Use firewalls and encryption
Firewalls help regulate network traffic, both inbound and outbound. That includes blocking off certain sketchy websites. Encryption is essential if you’re dealing with financial transactions, especially if you’re a business owner. Encryption software scrambles the data, so that even if the information falls in the wrong hands, it’s useless unless the crooks also have access to the encryption key.
Don’t lose track of mobile devices
One of the easiest yet most successful ways for hackers to get into your network is to just physically grab your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and log in. That’s why you should always make sure your devices never leave your sight when you go out. Never leave them unattended in public or alone with people you don’t know or trust. Furthermore, don’t forget to lock them with strong passwords.
Practices good Bluetooth and GPS usage
Hackers can penetrate your system by using your GPS or Bluetooth connection. Your GPS lets people know where you are, so turn it off if you don’t need it. The same goes for Bluetooth; hackers can use it to gain access to your phone.
Cybersecurity is an important topic and has very severe consequences when not properly addressed. It focuses on keeping networks secure and information safe from hackers. Cyberthreats can have ramifications for individuals, businesses, and in some cases entire nations. Upcoming trends for cybersecurity includes increased automation and inclusion of artificial intelligence, mobile devices becoming a threat to businesses, internet of things devices becoming targets for hackers, businesses training employees to deal with social engineering, and cyber threats resulting in tougher regulations and possible legislation.