A Beginner’s Guide to Cybersecurity

share icon share icon icon calendar January 26, 2021

In today’s era, technology has a tremendous impact on the success of a business. Companies that want to maintain an edge on the competition have to stay up to date on the latest developments to maximize productivity and efficiency. While technology has made the world more global than ever, it also makes networks more vulnerable.

This is where cybersecurity comes into play. It is essential to understand what cybersecurity is, why it is important, and how to protect customers, employees, and data.

What Is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is an overarching term that includes technology, processes, practices, and more designed to protect the organization’s networks, programs, devices, and data from damage, attacks, and other forms of unauthorized access.

There are a few reasons why cybersecurity is so important. First, cybersecurity is vital because the government, military, corporate, financial, and even medical organizations store, collect, and process large amounts of data on computers, mobile devices, networks, servers, and more. A large part of this data is sensitive information. This might include personal information, financial data, or intellectual property. For example, medical records are protected by HIPAA, which governs how healthcare organizations can store and share information about a patient’s medical status or history.

When these organizations need to send this data, whether it is medical information, financial data, or something else entirely, this information is passed across multiple networks that eventually get the data where it needs to go. It might be exposed to hackers or other cybercriminals who might seek to steal this information and use it for their gain.

This type of cyber attack can only be prevented with the right security programs from information technology security (IT) professionals. Cyber threat examples come in many shapes and forms, including cyberterror, so every program has to have a robust cybersecurity program in place to protect their information from harm.

What Are the Types of Cybersecurity?

The world of cybersecurity is just as vast and diverse as the cyberattacks themselves. For this reason, cybersecurity jobs also come in many shapes and forms. Those who have a cybersecurity degree could find themselves working multiple jobs with cybersecurity, trying to prevent cybercrime from taking place. Some of the elements of a cybersecurity framework include:

  • Critical Infrastructure Security: These are the physical systems that prevent attacks.
  • Application Security: This involves security measures for mobile and computer web applications.
  • Network Security: This involves security for the company’s network.
  • Cloud Security: This targets security measures that are based on the cloud.
  • IoT Security: Standing for the Internet of Things is a security measure for other devices that are not traditionally thought of as using the internet (such as printers and faxes.)

These are just a few of the most important parts of risk management and general data protection regulation that exists in the world of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity management must include continuous monitoring, such as malware detection, to keep cybersecurity threats at bay. There are a few common types of cyber attacks that might occur, and every organization needs to be prepared appropriately.

What Are the Types of Cyberattacks?

Cyberattacks come in many shapes and forms. All companies need to take steps to be prepared against some of the biggest cybersecurity threats. These include:

  • Hacking: Hacking is the most basic type of cyberattack there is. This is a broad term that is used to encompass a wide range of cyber threats. The most common form of hacking involves stealing someone’s credentials and using them to get into the system without proper authorization. In other cases, hacking might involve a simple brute force attack, which involves using specialized computer programs to plug in various permutations of passcodes until the right one is selected.

  • Cross-Site Scripting: Cross-site scripting is another common cybersecurity issue. This is a vulnerability that is commonly exploited using web applications. Shortened to XSS, this type of attack gives criminals the ability to inject client-side scripts into web pages frequently visited by users. This could be as straightforward as injecting these scripts into the company homepage. Then, this script is used by attackers to get around access controls that are usually put into place to control who can access the platform. Some people view this attack as a type of hacking.

  • DNS Spoofing: DNS spoofing is a common subtype of security hacking. In this attack, there is a corrupt domain name system (DNS) data code introduced to the cache of the DNS resolver itself. Also called DNS cache poisoning, this malicious code causes the server’s name to return an incorrect result record. In this manner, attackers can leverage this poisoned cache to fool users, misrecord IP addresses, and gain access to the network.

  • Secure Sockets Layer: Finally, it is also important to address a vital cybersecurity measure called a secure sockets layer. Usually shortened to SSL, this is a common type of technology that is used to develop an encrypted link that generally exists between a client and a server. Usually, there is a web server that communicates sensitive information to the visitor. This might include a financial page (such as a bank account) or confidential company information. An SSL is installed to prevent someone from getting in between the server and the client (usually located at the website) and stealing the data.

These are a few of the most critical points to know when it comes to cyberattacks and cybersecurity. Companies must know how to educate their employees on essential cybersecurity so that they don’t get fooled or taken advantage of by these cybercriminals. Education is one of the most important jobs for cybersecurity.

The Role of Education in Addressing Cybersecurity Issues

Cybersecurity jobs often involve educating company employees to make sure they understand how these attacks unfold and what can be done to prevent them. Everyone has to follow a few tips to make sure their employees get the most out of their crash course in cybersecurity. These include:

  • Do not blame the employees. If there is a massive data breach that occurs, there is a common misconception that there was an employee who clicked on the wrong button somewhere along the way. While it might be true that an employee might have fallen into a trap, pointing fingers is not the right way to address the situation. The onus falls on the company to find a plan that can adequately train employees to prevent this cybersecurity breach from happening in the future.

  • Next, all companies need to make sure they prioritize cybersecurity awareness. Many employees have tunnel vision and focus on doing their jobs. They might not even think about cybersecurity daily. This is how they get taken advantage of by criminals. Instead, make cybersecurity a part of every employee’s job. Teach them about the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST. This will help employees think about these cybersecurity issues daily. Then, they will be less likely to fall into a trap.

  • Another critical part of employee education has to do with phishing and social engineering attacks. These are common ways that criminals can trick employees into surrendering their password information. Instead, companies need to make these attacks a part of their cybersecurity training. If employees can recognize some of the most common signs of a phishing or social engineering attack, they will be less likely to fall for it.

  • Finally, it is also critical to teach employees about the best practices for coming up with a strong password. A secure password usually has these traits:
  1. The password is long enough to withstand a brute force attack.
  2. There are multiple character sets, such as symbols, numbers, uppercase, and lowercase letters.
  3. Passwords should be changed regularly, ideally every 30 days, and this point should be triggered by a notification or a reminder that forces the employee to change his or her password.
  4. Passwords should not be used for more than one account to help companies hedge their risks across multiple platforms.

These are just a few of the most important reasons why cybersecurity education for all employees must top the priority list for companies.

What Are the Different Types of Cybersecurity Threats?

When it comes to advanced persistent threats in cybersecurity, there are a few examples that rise to the top. Some of the most common threats in all of cybersecurity include:

  • Phishing: Phishing attacks have been around for a long time; however, they are still a significant threat even to this day. In a phishing attack, a criminal will act as a member of the company to convince an employee to surrender his or her information. Some of the most common phishing attacks involve misdirecting employees to a different website where they think they are visiting the company’s page. Then, the employee surrenders credentials when a keylogger tracks keystrokes when they log in.

  • Ransomware: Ransomware is one of the biggest threats out there. This is a severe type of attack where a cyber criminal uploads a malicious piece of code that ends up locking down the network. All of the company’s files are encrypted, and they are not released until a ransom is paid to the attackers.

  • Malware: Malware is an overarching term for a large variety of viruses and trojan horses that might be uploaded into specific files or the network as a whole. Some pieces of malware are designed to leak company data, making it public. Other types of malware might be used to corrupt files, making them unusable. Finally, there is also malware that is designed to steal information and return it to the attackers.

  • Social Engineering: Finally, social engineering is a relatively new kind of attack. Also called spear phishing, a social engineering attack involves using social media profiles to learn as much about a company or person as possible. A criminal uses this information to make himself or herself appear more convincing when they target a single person with a phishing attack. These are particularly convincing attacks that all employees must watch out for.

These are few of the most common types of cybersecurity threats that are out there. Employee education is one of the most important steps in preventing these attacks from unfolding.

The Best Practices in Cybersecurity

To execute a strong cybersecurity strategy, there are a few best practices that must be followed. These include:

  • Protect all data. This includes not only malware and ransomware protection but data backups as well.
  • Teach employees to avoid popups, unknown emails, and mysterious links, as these are common ways that viruses get uploaded to the network.
  • Teach secure password hygiene practices and ensure employees change them regularly.
  • Secure all Wi-Fi connections and make sure employees only use known, properly secured connections.
  • Invest in advanced security systems and work with IT departments that work hard to stay on top of the latest developments in the field.

Following these best practices for cybersecurity can prevent IT disasters from unfolding in the future.

What Are the Elements of Cybersecurity?

The world of cybersecurity is exceedingly complex, and it has evolved significantly during the past few years. A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is going to address all of these issues. Some of the most critical elements in cybersecurity that everyone has to keep in mind include:

  • Network Security: One of the most important parts of cybersecurity is called network security. This is the process of taking a network and adequately securing it against unwanted users, intrusions, attacks, and more. Effective network security plans must include not only virus detection and prevention but also access control issues.

  • Application Security: Application security involves security protocols that are explicitly focused on apps. To keep apps efficient and safe, they need to be continuously updated and tested to ensure they are working correctly. Furthermore, these apps need to be secured against cyberattacks as well.

  • Information Security: Information security refers to the processes and measures that are put in place to prevent unwanted access to sensitive information. This also involves protecting information against potential loss, such as a natural disaster or a power outage. The triad of information security is ICA or integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

  • Operational Security: Also called procedural security, this is a risk management and cybersecurity process that protects data against loss or theft as it moves from step to step in an operations chain. As data changes hands, it might be damaged or stolen in a cyberattack. Operational security strives to prevent this from happening. This security is often referred to as OPSEC.

  • Endpoints Security: In today’s world, all businesses need to be able to access their data remotely; however, this can also be a weak security point for data protection. If employees can access company information remotely, so can criminals. Endpoint security involves protecting remote access to a company’s network with appropriate security protocols. This might include a firewall, a VPN, and other security measures.

  • Identity Management: This refers to a critical practice of making sure that everyone has access to the right information. Nobody should ever have access to information unless it is essential to their job. This minimizes the risk of losing one set of credentials by ensuring that the criminal does not have access to the entire database.

  • Database and Infrastructure Security: Database and infrastructure security refer to making sure that there are appropriate physical barriers in place that prevent criminals from accessing hardware that contains sensitive information.

  • Cloud Security: Today, the cloud is a critical part of IT planning. Information is uploaded to the cloud, allowing employees to access information from anywhere. This also makes company data more vulnerable than ever before. All companies must train employees regarding how to access the cloud remotely and safely.

  • Mobile Security: With more employees accessing sensitive information from their phones, all phones must be secured appropriately. This means having a strong password, ensuring company information is never stored on phones unnecessarily, and teaching employees how to use their phones safely to connect to a network.

  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning: Natural disasters can strike from time to time, and companies must be prepared. If the building is knocked out by a hurricane, how is the business going to stay operational? This is one of the key topics that is addressed using appropriate business continuity planning. Furthermore, companies need to have adequate disaster recovery services that can clean up the damage and get the location up and running again.

  • End-User Education: User education is a critical part of cybersecurity. A company’s data is only as safe as its weakest link. This is why all employees need to be educated on the best practices in cybersecurity, ensuring they know how to keep the company’s data from falling into the wrong hands.

  • Data Loss Prevention and Data Backup: Data backup and disaster recovery services are key parts of cybersecurity. All companies need to follow the 3, 2, 1 rule when it comes to data backup. Make sure there are three sets of data stored on at least two different media sets, one of which should be off-site. This should be seen as a minimum bar, and most companies have more than three copies of their data.

  • Intrusion Detection Systems: Finally, one of the most important cybersecurity measures involves intrusion detection systems. These systems are put in place to alert the right individuals if someone breaks into the company’s network. This might be as simple as an email that gets sent to the IT department or as complicated as a system that totally locks down and traces the signal automatically if someone hacks the network. There should also be physical security systems that prevent someone from breaking into the building.

These are just a few of the elements in the world of cybersecurity. Every company must develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that can keep the organization and its employees safe from harm.

What Are the Risks of Having Poor Cybersecurity Measures?

All companies need to rely on a robust cybersecurity strategy. This is why cybersecurity certifications place IT professionals in a position to compete for jobs with a higher salary for cybersecurity. When companies do not invest in approprihttps://digitalskills.sdsu.edu/ate cybersecurity measures, there are a few significant risks that rise to the surface. Some of the key examples include:

  • Impacts on Clients: One of the biggest risks of having inadequate cybersecurity measures is that companies will lose their clients’ faith. Customers want to know that their data will be protected if they do business with a particular company. Strong cybersecurity will inspire loyalty in clients.
  • Reduces Resources for Growth: Every time a company falls victim to a cyberattack, it has to spend resources to get the company up and running. This cost comes on top of lost revenue due to the hours or days that the business was offline.
  • Threatens Business Continuity: Finally, when a severe cyberattack unfolds, there is no guarantee that the business will get up and running again. A cybersecurity incident might leave a company unable to access its customer information or required data. This could force it to shutter either temporarily or permanently.

These are some of the most significant risks that arise when companies avoid investing in a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. With so many companies relying on the internet for their daily operations, it is more important than ever to ensure that companies protect their data and maximize their uptime. This is one of the biggest reasons why experts in the world of cybersecurity are in such high demand.

Start Your Cybersecurity Journey Today

Enroll in the SDSU Global Campus Cybersecurity Bootcamp to start your cybersecurity training. In this 400-hour program, you will start with the fundamentals and build on each lesson as you train with active industry experts. Learn from anywhere with our 100% online classes and even keep your day job with our flexible evening and weekend class schedule. Fill out the form below for a free career consultation or call (619) 839-3030.

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