What is Cyber Security? How to Identify And Prevent Cyber Security Threats?

Nov 17, 2021
5 min read

What is cyber security?

The practice of protecting networks, devices, programs, and sensitive data from unauthorized access and cyber-attacks is known as cyber security. Cyber security is also referred to as information technology security. Various premeditated security measures are taken to combat possible cyber-attacks, internal or external, against network systems and applications.

Importance of cyber security

In the digital age that we live in, cyber security is of paramount importance to individuals as well as organizations and establishments because all information and records are digitally stored.

Data is collected, processed, and stored on various computers and devices by governments, industries, corporates, the healthcare industry, financial sectors, and military establishments. As large volumes of data are transmitted across various networks and devices during the course of the business transactions, unauthorized access to these data could have a severe negative impact on data that could be sensitive data like; personal information, financial data, or intellectual property. Thus, it is important to implement dedicated and disciplined cyber security measures to protect data and the systems used to collect, process, and store the information.

What are the types of cyber-attack threats?

Some of the common types of cyber-attacks are:

Malware – Use of malicious software such as spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms to breach a network. Users are lured to click dangerous links or email attachments to install risky software.

Phishing - Tricking victims into sharing personal information or take an action online with the intent to obtain the user’s system credentials, financial information, or other sensitive information to be used for their benefit.

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack – Also known as eavesdropping attack, here the perpetrator inserts themselves between the transactions between two parties to either eavesdrop or impersonate one of the parties. The entry point could be unsecured Wi-Fi networks and by installing software on devices using malware.

Denial-of-service (DoS) attack – Here the attacker disrupts the normal functioning of user devices by flooding systems, servers, or networks with traffic resulting in denial-of-service to additional users. this can also be done using multiple compromised devices. This is also called (DDoS) disrupted-denial-of-service attack.

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) – unauthorized attackers infiltrate a system network and remain in the system collecting data without being noticed.

Backdoor Trojan – attackers use Trojan to create vulnerability to the victim’s system to gain remote and almost total control.

Zero-day attack – hackers detect an existing security flaw in a network and exploit it before the developer is aware of the vulnerability. Once the developer detects the attack, he has ‘zero’ days to mitigate the problem as the hackers have begun the exploitation.

SQL injection – (Structured Query Language) attack – attackers insert malicious codes into servers using SQL forcing the server to reveal sensitive data.

DNS tunneling – attackers use malicious domains and DNS servers to exploit the Domain Name System protocol by sneaking malicious traffic bypassing the organization’s defense system.

Some interesting cyber security statistics for 2021 are as below:

· In 2020, the average cost to business due to cyber-attack was $3.86 million, and the average time to identify and contain the breach was 280 days with the highest industry cost in the Healthcare sector. (IBM)

· Cybersecurity Ventures predictions for 2021 – cyber-attacks to cost the world $6 trillion annually; damages caused by ransomware the fastest-growing cyber-attack to reach $20 billion, and every 40 seconds a business fall victim to a ransomware attack.

· 2021 to see 3.5 million cyber security jobs waiting to be fulfilled, of which the United States alone to have over 500,000 open positions.

· About 86% of the cyber-attacks are motivated by financial gains and espionage is the second motivating factor.

· Globally, 75% of healthcare organizations have experienced a data breach in some or the other forms. Cyber security spending in the Healthcare sector is expected to reach around $65 billion between 2017 and 2021. (TechJury)

· It takes an average of 7 months to detect a breach in information security.

· Every 24 hours, there were 23,000 Denial of Service (DoS or DDoS) attacks, disrupting business.

Measures to identify and prevent cyber security threats

Monitor unusual password activity: Any unusual locked-out password or an email stating that the password has been changed is a potential sign of a compromised password. Strong passwords for emails and networks must be created and updated every six months to prevent intrusion.

Monitor internal network: The first step would be to identify threats and vulnerabilities within the organization network. This involves checking and understanding your defense system for vulnerabilities and loopholes as a hacker would do and identifying the most likely threats to the organization.

Use cyber threat intelligence: study and understand sorts of attacks being launched and possible threats targeting the organization. Understanding the possible threats can help prepare, prevent, identify, and protect the organization before they occur.

Perform penetration testing: Perform routine penetration or pen testing to find and exploit weak spots in the company’s security infrastructure which attackers could take advantage of and make necessary patches to fix them.

Access management control: It is important to segment and manage access control to employees at various levels in the organization to based on the role they play. Authorization and authentication are a critical part of identity and access management control as they help protect your network against malicious insiders and data breaches.

Use firewall: The use of a firewall is a must both internally and externally as it blocks unauthorized users from getting access to your system network. They monitor and filter incoming and outgoing traffic and keep dangerous traffic out.

Constantly monitor and update network: It is not enough to set up security tools and forget it. To be effective, security has to be constantly monitored to check for any unusual activities. It is also important to keep software and devices up-to-date to avoid falling prey to malicious actors and protect against bugs and any new vulnerabilities or threats that may potentially target your network.

Employee awareness and training: Finally, employees are responsible for keeping the business secure; however, they are easy targets for hackers. It is important to ensure that all employees understand security policies and procedures and their role in security. Therefore, regular cyber security awareness programs and training should be provided to stay abreast in the fight against cyber threats.

Conclusion:

The fight to thwart cyber security threats is a continuous and ever-evolving process. Organizations could face severe problems by just a single security breach. While understanding how to detect and combat these threats is only a part of the puzzle, it is important to educate and train employees, implement sound security measures and follow cyber security best practices to keep your data safe and secure from malicious actors.

Sources:
https://www.sungardas.com/en-gb/blog/5-steps-to-assess-and-mitigate-cyber-security-risks/
https://www.ibm.com/topics/cybersecurity
https://www.cisco.com/c/en_in/products/security/common-cyberattacks.html#~types-of-cyber-attacks
https://cybersecurityventures.com/global-ransomware-damage-costs-predicted-to-reach-20-billion-usd-by-2021/