Cybersecurity is a collection of technologies and methods that help to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability computer systems, networks, and data from cyber-attacks and unauthorized access. Cyber security serves two purposes: to protect organizational assets against external and internal threats, as well as from disruptions due to natural catastrophes.
Because organizational assets can be made up of many disparate systems, a coordinated effort across all information systems is necessary to ensure effective cyber security. Cybersecurity therefore consists of the following sub-domains.
App security is the implementation of various defenses in software and services within an organization against a variety of threats. This includes designing secure applications, writing secure code and implementing strong data input validation. Threat modeling is also required. It reduces the possibility of unauthorized access to or modification of application resources.
Identity Management and Data Security
Frameworks, processes, or activities that enable authorization and authentication of authorized individuals to access information systems within an organisation are called identity management. Data security is the implementation of strong information storage systems that protect data in transit and at rest.
Network security is the combination of hardware and software measures to safeguard the network and infrastructure against unauthorized access, disruptions, or misuse. Network security is essential to protect your organization assets from external and internal threats.
Mobile security is the protection of personal and organizational information on mobile devices such as cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other smartphones. From various threats like unauthorized access, device theft or theft, malware, and others.
Cloud security refers to the creation of secure cloud architectures for organizations using different cloud service providers like AWS, Google Azure, Rackspace, Rackspace, and Azure. A well-designed environment and architecture will protect you from various threats.
Disaster recovery and business continuity planning (DR&BC).
Disaster Recovery &BC is about processes, monitoring and alerts that assist organizations in preparing for the possibility of a disaster and resuming business operations after it.
It is important to train individuals on topics related to computer security. This will raise awareness about industry best practices, organizational processes and policies, as well as monitor and report malicious activity.
Cybersecurity: The challenges and importance
The rapidly changing technological landscape and the fact software adoption is increasing in many sectors, including finance, government and military, retail, hospitals and education to name just a few, means that more information is becoming digital. It is also accessible via wired and wireless digital communication networks as well as the ever-present internet. Criminals and other evil-doers have a lot of valuable information. It is therefore important to use strong cyber security processes and measures to protect this sensitive information.
Recent high-profile cyber security breaches at Equifax, Yahoo and the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have highlighted the importance of having good cyber security strategies. These security breaches resulted in extremely sensitive user data being lost that has caused irreparable damage to their reputation and finances. As the trend indicates, cyber-attacks are not slowing down. Attackers target both small and large companies every day to steal sensitive information or disrupt services.
Effective cyber security strategies are also difficult to implement due to the constantly changing technological landscape. Software is constantly changing as it is updated or modified. This creates new vulnerabilities and issues that can be exploited by cyber-attackers. Many companies are migrating to the cloud their IT infrastructures, which creates new design and implementation challenges. This leads to a new class of vulnerabilities. Companies don’t realize the risks inherent in their IT infrastructure, and fail to implement cyber security countermeasures until it is too late.
What is a Cyber-attack?
Cyberattacks are a deliberate effort by internal or external threats or attackers, to exploit and compromise confidentiality, integrity and accessibility of information systems of target organizations or individuals. Cyber-attackers use illegal tools, methods and approaches to damage and disrupt systems or gain unauthorized access.
Cyber-attacks can be of many types. The following list highlights the most important ones criminals and attackers use in order to exploit software.
- Injection attacks (e.g., cross-site scripting, SQL injection, command injection)
- Session management, Man-in-the-Middle attacks and session management
- Service denial
- Privilege escalations
- Unpatched/Vulnerable software
- Remote code execution
- Brute force
What is the difference between cyber-attacks and security breaches?
Cyber-attacks are not the same thing as security breaches. Cyber-attacks, as we have discussed, are attempts to compromise security. Cyber-attackers use various types of cyber-attacks to try and exploit the confidentiality, integrity or availability a software or network. A security breach is an incident or event that results in the compromise of sensitive information, unauthorised access to IT systems, or disruption of services.
With the determination that any one of their cyber-attacks would cause a security breach, attackers continue to try numerous cyber-attacks on their targets. Security breaches highlight an important part of a comprehensive cyber security strategy. This is Business Continuity and Incidence Response. BC-IR assists organizations in dealing with successful cyber-attacks. Incidence Response focuses on responding to security incidents and limiting their impact, while Business Continuity deals with keeping critical business systems online.
11 cyber security best practices that will prevent a breach
1. Cyber security awareness and training should be conducted
Without employees being educated about cyber security, company policies, and incident reporting, a strong cyber security strategy will not work. Employees can make malicious or unintentional actions that could lead to costly security breaches, despite having the best technical defenses. The best way to decrease negligence and potential security violations is to educate employees through classes, seminars, and online courses.
2. Perform risk assessments
An organization should conduct a formal risk assessment in order to identify all valuable assets. Prioritize them according to the potential impact of a compromised asset. This will allow organizations to decide how best to spend their resources in protecting each asset.
3. Reduce Threats
To reduce the threat to their IT systems, it is essential that IT teams identify, classify, remediate, and mitigate vulnerabilities in all software and networks. Security researchers and attackers discover new vulnerabilities in software every once in a while. These vulnerabilities are then reported to the software vendors and made public. These vulnerabilities are often exploited and abused by malware and other cyber criminals. These vulnerabilities are patched and mitigated by software vendors regularly. It is important to keep your IT systems current in order to protect your organization’s assets.
4. The principle of least privilege should be used
Software and personnel should have the minimum permissions they need to carry out their duties according to the principle of least privilege. This reduces the risk of security breaches that result in lower permissions for software and user accounts. However, they cannot impact assets that have higher permissions. Two-factor authentication should also be used for high-level accounts with unrestricted permissions.
5. Secure password storage and policies
All employees should be required to use strong passwords that conform to industry standards. To protect against compromised passwords, they should be required to be changed periodically. Password storage should be consistent with industry best practices, which include strong hashing algorithms and salts.
6. Create a Business Continuity Plan
A solid BC-IR plan and policy will ensure that your organization is able to respond effectively to cyber-attacks or security breaches. It will also help you keep your critical business systems online.
7. Perform regular security reviews
Security issues can be identified early and quickly by having all software and networks undergo periodic security reviews. Security reviews can include network and application penetration testing, source code reviews as well as architecture design reviews and red team assessments. Organizations should prioritize security vulnerabilities and take steps to mitigate them as soon possible after they are discovered.
8. Backup data
Regular backups of all data will increase redundancy. It will also ensure that sensitive data is not lost, altered or compromised after a security breach. Ransomware and injections can compromise data integrity and availability. Backups can help protect in such cases.
9. Encrypt data in transit and at rest
Strong encryption algorithms should be used to protect sensitive information. Encrypting data ensures confidentiality. It is also important to have effective key management and rotation policies. All web applications/software should employ the use of SSL/TLS.
10. Secure software and networks should be designed
Always ensure security when designing applications, software, or networks. Remember that security is more expensive than refactoring and adding security features later. Security-designed applications help to reduce threats and make sure that software/networks fail safely.
11. Secure coding requires strong input validation.
Injection attacks can be prevented by strong input validation. Software and applications are programmed to accept input from users. This opens them up to attack. Strong input validation filters out malicious payloads that could be processed by the application. Secure coding standards are essential when creating software. This helps to avoid many of the vulnerabilities outlined in OWASP or CVE.