Computer security, cyber security or information technology security (IT security) is the protection of computer systems and networks from the theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.Cyber security is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks. It’s also known as information technology security or electronic information security. The term applies in a variety of contexts, from business to mobile computing, and can be divided into a few common categories.
Network security is the practice of securing a computer network from intruders, whether targeted attackers or opportunistic malware.
- Application security focuses on keeping software and devices free of threats. A compromised application could provide access to the data its designed to protect. Successful security begins in the design stage, well before a program or device is deployed.
- Information security protects the integrity and privacy of data, both in storage and in transit.
- Operational security includes the processes and decisions for handling and protecting data assets. The permissions users have when accessing a network and the procedures that determine how and where data may be stored or shared all fall under this umbrella.
- Disaster recovery and business continuity define how an organization responds to a cyber-security incident or any other event that causes the loss of operations or data. Disaster recovery policies dictate how the organization restores its operations and information to return to the same operating capacity as before the event. Business continuity is the plan the organization falls back on while trying to operate without certain resources.
The importance and challenges of cyber security
Given the rapidly evolving technological landscape and the fact that adoption of software is ever increasing across various sectors including finance, government, military, retail, hospitals, education, energy to name a few, more and more information is becoming digital and accessible through wireless and wired digital communication networks and across the omnipresent internet. All this highly sensitive information is of a great value to criminals and evil doers which is why it is important to protect it using a strong cyber security measures and processes.
The importance of good cyber security strategies is evident in the recent high-profile security breaches of organizations such as Yahoo, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), who lost extremely sensitive user information that caused irreparable damage to both their finances and reputation. And as the trend suggests, the rate of cyber-attacks show no sign of slowing down. Companies, both large and small, are targeted everyday by attackers to obtain sensitive information or cause disruption of services.
The same evolving technological landscape also poses challenges in implementing effective cyber security strategies. Software constantly changes when its updated and modified which introduces new issues and vulnerabilities and opens it up for various cyber-attacks. Furthermore, IT infrastructure evolves as well with many of the companies already migrating their on-premise systems to the cloud which introduces a whole new set of design and implementation issues resulting in a new category of vulnerabilities. Companies are unaware of the various risks within their IT infrastructure and hence fail to have any cyber security countermeasures in place until it’s far too late.
What is a cyber-attack?
A cyber-attack is a deliberate attempt by external or internal threats or attackers to exploit and compromise the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information systems of a target organization or individual(s). Cyber-attackers use illegal methods, tools and approaches to cause damages and disruptions or gain unauthorized access to computers, devices, networks, applications and databases.
Types of cybersecurity threats
- Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent emails that resemble emails from reputable sources. The aim is to steal sensitive data like credit card numbers and login information. It’s the most common type of cyber attack. You can help protect yourself through education or a technology solution that filters malicious emails.
- Ransomware is a type of malicious software. It is designed to extort money by blocking access to files or the computer system until the ransom is paid. Paying the ransom does not guarantee that the files will be recovered or the system restored.
- Malware is a type of software designed to gain unauthorized access or to cause damage to a computer.
- Social engineering is a tactic that adversaries use to trick you into revealing sensitive information. They can solicit a monetary payment or gain access to your confidential data. Social engineering can be combined with any of the threats listed above to make you more likely to click on links, download malware, or trust a malicious source.
Cyber-attacks come in a wide variety and the following list highlights some of important ones that criminals and attackers use to exploit software:
Injection attacks (e.g., cross-site scripting, SQL injection, command injection)
Session management and Man-in-the-Middle attacks
Denial of service
Remote code execution
What’s the difference between a cyber-attack and a security breach?
A cyber-attack is not exactly the same as a security breach. A cyber-attack as discussed above is an attempt to compromise the security of a system. Attackers try to exploit the confidentially, integrity or availability of a software or network by using various kinds of cyber-attacks as outlined in the above section. Security breach on the other hand is a successful event or incident in which a cyber-attack results in a compromise of sensitive information, unauthorized access to IT systems or disruption of services.
Attackers consistently try a multitude of cyber-attacks against their targets with a determination that one of them would result in a security breach. Hence, security breaches also highlight another significant part of a complete cyber security strategy; which is Business Continuity and Incidence Response (BC-IR). BC-IR helps an organization with dealing in cases of a successful cyber-attacks. Business Continuity relates to keeping critical business system online when struck with a security incident whereas Incidence Response deals with responding to a security breach and to limit its impact as well as facilitating recovery of IT and Business systems.
Cybersecurity is the body of technologies, processes, and practices designed to protect networks, computers, and data from attack, damage, and unauthorized access. Cyber security course teach professionals to spot vulnerabilities, fend off attacks, and immediately respond to emergencies.
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