What is Cybersecurity and How to Prevent Digital Threats

What is Cybersecurity and How to Prevent Digital Threats

Categories: Cyber Security|Published On: December 28, 2023|10.2 min read|
About the Author
Alan Yau - Cybersecurity Consultant and Trainer

Alan Yau

Seasoned Information Security specialist with expertise in Next Generation Security Operation Center, IT Cybersecurity Infrastructure Review, Penetration Testing, and more.
What is Cybersecurity and How to Prevent Digital Threats

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What is Cybersecurity?

Remember the time you clicked on a suspicious email link and suddenly, your computer froze? You were the victim of a cyber attack. This experience, while distressing, is a stark reminder of the importance of understanding what is cybersecurity.

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Key Takeaways

  • Cybersecurity is a combination of technology, processes, and people to protect digital assets from cyber threats.
  • Cybercrime costs the world an estimated $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Organizations must protect themselves against fines & reputational damage as well as essential services such as power grids & water treatment facilities.
  • Effective cybersecurity requires training in security awareness, implementation of policies/standard/procedures/guidelines plus regular system and application updates. Formal employee training for security professionals plays a vital role in protecting digital systems and resources.

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Cybersecurity

Consider cybersecurity as a fortress. This fortress, made up of technology, processes, and people, helps safeguard your digital treasures—your data—from cyber pirates. Like castle walls, security solutions protect internet resources and computer systems, which are like the castle’s treasury, holding valuable information.

However, the resilience of any fortress, no matter how strong, is determined by its weakest point —human. Cybersecurity is not just about having the right tools, but also about keeping them up-to-date and ensuring that everyone knows how to use them properly. It’s a team effort, involving everyone from:

  • the king (the business owner)
  • the queen (the IT department)
  • the knights (security professionals)
  • the foot soldiers (employees)

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The Growing Importance of Cybersecurity

The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and with this connection comes increased security risks. Cybersecurity is a shield that helps maintain our modern standards of living by mitigating these risks and protecting valuable digital assets. However, the scale of the threat is immense. Imagine a city under siege, with the enemy (cybercrime) expected to cost the world $10.5 trillion a year by 2025. If a city falls, the costs are high—infrastructure is destroyed, citizens are harmed, and the city’s reputation suffers. The aftermath of a cyber security breach is similar. Organizations may face substantial fines and reputational damage.

Without adequate cyber security resources and defenses, even modern-day essentials like power grids and water treatment facilities could be compromised.

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Common Cyber Threats and Attacks

Just as there are different siege tactics in warfare, such as battering rams or catapults, cyber attackers also employ various tactics. Types of cyber threats, including cyber attacks, are often categorized as:

  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing
  • Social engineering
Malware and Viruses

1. Malware and Viruses

Malware, the digital equivalent of a battering ram, is a type of malicious software designed to inflict harm. It comes in many forms, including ransomware, spyware, adware, trojans, worms, viruses, and rootkits. To protect your system from these threats, it’s essential to use antivirus software.

The computer virus, a type of malware, operates similarly to a biological virus. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it infiltrates programs and files with malicious code. Once inside, it can alter the computer’s functioning and propagate to other systems, causing damage or gaining control of the device.

Some of the most destructive viruses in history include:

These viruses have caused billions of dollars in losses.

2. Ransomware Attacks

Contrarily, ransomware attacks mirror castle sieges that restrict access to the castle (the network) until a ransom is fulfilled. These attacks can be disseminated through phishing emails, malicious downloads, or by exploiting vulnerabilities in software.

The repercussions of a ransomware attack can be extensive. Similar to a prolonged siege, it can result in:

  • Financial losses
  • Operational disruptions
  • Damage to reputation
  • Loss of sensitive data

In recent years, the frequency of ransomware attacks and data breaches has increased, with ransomware accounting for approximately 20% of cyber breaches in 2022.

3. Phishing and Social Engineering

Phishing and social engineering attacks are akin to Trojan horses. Attackers trick individuals into revealing personal information or granting unauthorized access to systems. Phishing, a type of social engineering attack, deceives users with false messages to induce them to install malicious files, click on hazardous links, or reveal confidential information.

There are several types of phishing attacks, including email phishing, spear phishing, whaling, smishing and vishing, and angler phishing. Social engineering attacks employ broader tactics, including phishing, spear phishing, baiting, malware, pretexting, quid pro quo, tailgating, vishing, watering hole, and cache poisoning or DNS spoofing.

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Essential Components of Cybersecurity

In the world of cybersecurity, the fortress (cybersecurity plan) is made up of three essential components: people, processes, and technology.

1. People

People are integral to cybersecurity. Similar to a fortress whose strength is dictated by the vigilance and skill of its defenders, cybersecurity depends on the individuals’ awareness and training. Regular security awareness training is essential to equip staff with the necessary knowledge to address threats and apply best-practice advice to real-world situations.

People also play various roles in maintaining cybersecurity, including roles like a Computer Forensic Analyst, IT Security Specialist, Security Manager, and Security Engineer. Ongoing cybersecurity training is critical to heighten awareness of cybersecurity threats, fortify the organization’s digital network, safeguard digital assets and data, and preserve the organization’s reputation and financial well-being.

2. Processes

Processes in cybersecurity are like the rules and regulations in a fortress. They involve the implementation of policies, procedures, and guidelines to ensure consistent and effective security measures.

Some examples of these processes include:

  • Privileged password management
  • Network security audit workflow
  • Firewall audit workflow
  • VPN configuration
  • Identifying physical and software assets within an organization and establishing asset management protocols.

The implementation of security processes in an organization involves numerous steps. These encompass:

  1. Assessing and evaluating IT assets
  2. Risk assessment
  3. Setting up security objectives
  4. Selecting security controls
  5. Documenting the security plan
  6. Implementing the security processes

3. Technology

Technology in cybersecurity includes:

  • Firewalls
  • Intrusion detection systems
  • Virtual private networks
  • Encryption
  • Two-factor authentication

These tools and systems, known as cyber security solutions, are used to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber threats.

Take the role of a firewall, for instance. Like a castle’s drawbridge, it provides a barrier between secure internal networks and untrusted external networks. It inspects and filters incoming and outgoing network traffic, allowing only authorized traffic to pass through and blocking malicious traffic.

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Cybersecurity Best Practices

As a fortress necessitates a maintenance routine to retain its strength, cybersecurity calls for routine upkeep. Best practices encompass regular software updates, secure password management, and employee training.

Think of software updates as regular fortress inspections, patching up any cracks in the wall to prevent invaders from breaking through. Secure password management is akin to changing the locks on the fortress gates regularly, and employee training ensures that each guard knows their role and how to respond to threats effectively.

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The Role of Cybersecurity Professionals

Cybersecurity professionals, akin to skilled knights in a medieval army, are highly sought after. They serve as the protectors, safeguarding devices and systems from malicious actors. Imagine a world under constant threat from invaders, and you’ll understand why there is a critical and increasing demand for these skilled warriors.

The cybersecurity sector offers a variety of job roles, including:

  • Security roles
  • Security consultants
  • Data protection officers
  • Cloud security architects
  • SOC managers and analysts
  • Security investigators
  • Cryptographers
  • Security administrators

Each role is essential in protecting the digital kingdom and ensuring the security of its people and resources.

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Emerging Cybersecurity Trends and Challenges

The cybersecurity landscape resembles an ever-changing battlefield. The current developments involve increasing complexity of cyberattacks, the escalating amount of data to be safeguarded, and the broadening attack surface caused by the Internet of Things (IoT).

New threats have emerged, including:

  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Internet of Things (IoT) attacks
  • Cloud-based attacks
  • Insider threats

Furthermore, the Internet of Things (IoT) has contributed significantly to the expansion of the cyber attack surface, like an ever-expanding battlefield introducing new fronts and challenges, especially with the increasing use of mobile devices.

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Cybersecurity Courses & Certifications

For those motivated to become part of the cybersecurity professionals, numerous cybersecurity certifications and courses and are accessible. These offerings provide individuals with the requisite skills and credentials for a career in this rapidly growing field:

AWS-SEC: Security Engineering on AWS

1. AWS-SEC: Security Engineering on AWS

This AWS course equips individuals with the skills to leverage AWS security services effectively within the AWS Cloud. Focused on best security practices recommended by AWS, it covers securing data and systems in the cloud.

Attendees will learn to utilize key AWS services such as compute, storage, networking, and databases, along with automation tools for continuous monitoring and incident response, preparing for the AWS Certified Security – Specialty certification.

Course Code Course Title Training Duration Training Mode
AWS-SEC Security Engineering on AWS 3 Days Instructor-Led (Available in Virtual or Physical Sessions)
CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker


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CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker

This EC-Council‘s CEH certification offers comprehensive knowledge of cutting-edge hacking tools and methodologies used by hackers and security professionals for lawful penetration testing.

Widely recognized by global employers, it’s a critical credential for those aiming to understand and prevent cybersecurity threats in organizations.

Course Code Course Title Training Duration Training Mode
CEH Certified Ethical Hacker v12 5 Days Instructor-Led (Available in Virtual or Physical Sessions)
CHFI: Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator


3.
CHFI: Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator

This EC-Council’s CHFI certification covers digital forensics analysis in today’s digital landscape, from detecting breaches to gathering evidence for legal proceedings.

With a focus on practical learning, it’s designed for professionals including forensic analysts, incident responders, security consultants, and more.

Course Code Course Title Training Duration Training Mode
CHFI Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator 5 Days Instructor-Led (Available in Virtual or Physical Sessions)
CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor


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CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor

This Isaca’s cybersecurity course covers all domains of the CISA exam, this course provides the necessary knowledge for obtaining the CISA certification, setting the gold standard for IS auditing, control, and security since 1978.

Course Code Course Title Training Duration Training Mode
CISA Certified Information Systems Auditor 5 Days Instructor-Led (Available in Virtual or Physical Sessions)