Cybersecurity is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks. It is also known as information technology security or electronic information security. The term is applied in different contexts, from business to mobile computing, and can be divided into a few common categories.
- Network security is the practice of protecting computer networks from intruders, either attackers or malware targeted opportunistic.
- Application security focuses on maintaining free software and device threats. An affected application could provide access to the data it is intended to protect. Effective security begins at the design stage, long before a program or device is implemented.
- Information security protects the integrity and privacy of data, both in storage and in transit.
- Operational safety includes the processes and decisions to manage and protect data resources. The permissions that users have to access a network and the procedures that determine how and where data can be stored or shared are included in this category.
- The disaster recovery and business continuity define how an organization responds to a cybersecurity incident or other event causing operations to stop or data loss. Disaster recovery policies dictate how the organization restores its operations and information to return to the same operational capacity as before the event. Business continuity is the plan that the organization resorts to when trying to operate without certain resources.
- The training of the end-user addresses the most unpredictable factor cybersecurity: people. If good security practices are violated, anyone can accidentally introduce a virus into an otherwise safe system. Teaching users to remove suspicious email attachments, not to connect unidentified USB drives, and other important lessons are critical to the security of any organization.
The extent of cyber threats
Global cyber threats continue to develop at a rapid pace, with an increasing number of data breaches each year. In a risk-based Security report, it was revealed that a staggering 7.8 billion records have been exposed by data breaches in the first nine months of 2019 alone. This number is more than double (112%) the number of records exposed in the same period during 2018.
Medical services, retailers, and public entities suffered the most leaks, with malicious criminals responsible for the majority of incidents. Some of these sectors are more attractive to cybercriminals as they collect financial and medical data, although all companies that use the networks can be attacked to steal customer data, conduct corporate espionage, or launch attacks on their customers.
With the spread of cyber threats ever-increasing, the International Data Corporation predicts that global spending on cybersecurity solutions will reach an impressive $ 133.7 billion by 2022. Governments around the world have responded to the increases. cyber threats with guidance to help organizations implement effective cybersecurity practices.
In the United States, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a cybersecurity framework. To counter the proliferation of malicious code and aid in early detection, the framework recommends continuous, real-time monitoring of all electronic resources.
The importance of systems surveillance is reflected in the ’10 Steps to Cybersecurity ‘ guidance provided by the UK Government’s National Cyber Security Center. In Australia, the Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC) regularly publishes guidance on how organizations can counter the latest cybersecurity threats.
Types of cyber threats
The threats that cybersecurity faces are three:
- The Cybercrime includes individuals or groups who attack systems for financial gain or causing disruptions.
- The cyberattacks often involve collecting information for political purposes.
- The cyberterrorism aims to weaken the electronic systems for panic or fear causes.
But how do malicious actors get control of computer systems? Here are some of the common methods used to threaten cybersecurity:
“Malware” refers to malicious software. As one of the most common cyber threats, malware is software that a cybercriminal or hacker has created to disrupt or damage a legitimate user’s computer. Often spread via an unsolicited email attachment or legitimate-looking download, malware can be used by cybercriminals to make money or to carry out cyberattacks for political purposes.
There are different types of malware, including the following:
- Viruses: a program capable of reproducing itself, which embeds a clean file and spreads throughout the computer system and infects files with malicious code.
- Trojans – A type of malware that masquerades as legitimate software. Cybercriminals trick users into uploading Trojans to their computers, where they cause damage or collect data.
- Spyware: a program that secretly records what a user does so that cybercriminals can make use of this information. For example, spyware could capture credit card details.
- Ransomware – malware that locks a user’s files and data, threatening to delete them, unless a ransom is paid.
- Adware – Adware that can be used to spread malware.
- Botnets – Malware-infected computer networks that cybercriminals use to perform online tasks without user permission.
SQL code injection
An injection of SQL (Structured Query Language) code is a type of cyber attack used to take control and steal data from a database. Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in data-driven applications to insert malicious code into a database using a malicious SQL statement. This gives them access to the confidential information contained in the database.
Phishing is when cybercriminals attack their victims with emails that appear to be from a legitimate company requesting confidential information. Phishing attacks are often used to induce people to hand over their credit card details and other personal information.
A “Man-in-the-middle” attack is a type of cyber threat in which a cybercriminal intercepts the communication between two individuals to steal data. For example, on an insecure Wi-Fi network, an attacker could intercept data that is transmitted from the victim’s device and the network.
Denial of service attack
A denial of service attack is when cybercriminals prevent a computer system from fulfilling legitimate requests by overloading networks and servers with traffic. This renders the system unusable and prevents an organization from performing vital functions.
What are the latest cyber threats that individuals and organizations need to protect against? Here are some of the most recent cyber threats reported by the governments of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
In December 2019, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) indicted the leader of a group of organized cybercriminals for his involvement in a global attack on Dridex malware. This malicious campaign affected the public, government, infrastructure, and businesses around the world.
Dridex is a financial Trojan that has different functionalities. Since 2014, it has affected victims and infects computers via phishing emails or existing malware. It is capable of stealing passwords, bank details, and personal data that can be used in fraudulent transactions, and has caused massive financial losses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
In response to the Dridex attacks, the UK’s National Cyber Security Center advises people to “make sure devices are up to date and antivirus is on and up to date, and files are backed up. ”.
In February 2020, the FBI warned US citizens to beware of trust fraud that cybercriminals commit through dating sites, chat rooms, and apps. Perpetrators take advantage of people seeking new partners and trick victims into providing their details.
The FBI reports that romantic cyber threats affected 114 New Mexico victims during 2019, whose financial losses totaled $ 1.6 million.
In late 2019, the Australian Center for Cybersecurity warned national organizations about the widespread global cyber threat from Emotet malware.
Emotet is a sophisticated Trojan that can steal data and also load other malware. Emotet takes advantage of unsophisticated passwords and is a reminder of the importance of creating a strong password to protect against cyber threats.
End-user protection or endpoint security is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity. After all, it is often an individual (the end-user) who accidentally uploads malware or another form of the cyber threat to their desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
So, how do cybersecurity measures protect end-users and systems? First, cybersecurity relies on cryptographic protocols to encrypt emails, files, and other critical data. Cybersecurity not only protects information in transit, but it also offers protection against loss or theft.
Also, end-user security software scans computers for malicious code, quarantines this code, and removes it from the computer. Security programs can even detect and remove malicious code hidden in the master boot record (MBR) and are designed to encrypt or erase data from the computer’s hard drive.
Electronic security protocols also focus on real-time malware detection. Many use heuristic and behavioral analysis to monitor the behavior of a program and its code to defend against viruses or Trojans that can change shape with each execution (polymorphic and metamorphic malware). Security programs can restrict potentially malicious programs in a virtual bubble separate from the user’s network to analyze their behavior and learn to better detect new infections.
Security programs continue to develop new defenses as cybersecurity professionals identify new threats and ways to combat them. To get the most out of end-user security software, employees must learn how to use it. The bottom line is to keep it running and update it frequently so you can protect users from the latest cyber threats.
Cybersecurity tips: protect yourself from cyber attacks
How can businesses and individuals protect themselves against cyber threats? Here are our top cybersecurity tips:
- Update software and operating system – This means that you will take advantage of the latest security patches.
- Use antivirus software – Security solutions, such as Kaspersky Total Security, will detect and remove threats. Keep your software up to date for the best level of protection.
- Use strong passwords – Make sure your passwords are not easy to guess.
- Do not open email attachments from unknown senders – they could be infected with malware.
- Do not click on links in emails from unknown senders or websites – This is a common way for malware to spread.
- Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networks in public places – Unsecured networks leave you vulnerable to “Man-in-the-middle” attacks.