A large portion of the world’s population uses the internet on a daily basis. The above-mentioned institutions not only gather unprecedented amounts of data via cyberspace, but they also depend on said infrastructure to operate and provide services.
An attack on this infrastructure could not only threaten customer data or a business’s bottom line — but it could also threaten a nation’s security, economy, and public safety and health.
We have created this comprehensive guide to cybersecurity in order to emphasize its importance. We will discuss what cybersecurity is, how to protect your systems from attacks, and what resources to follow to stay current with emerging trends and technology related to cybersecurity.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the practice of taking measures to protect electronic information from unauthorized access or theft. Cyber-attacks are designed to exploit vulnerabilities in order to disrupt, disable, destroy, or control data or infrastructure.
It is important to have multiple layers of protection for your cybersecurity in order to keep your data, devices, programs, networks, and systems safe. A combination of technology and best practices can provide an effective defense against the continually evolving threats of cyberspace.
These threats include being scammed by fake emails, having your computer infected with malicious software, having your data held hostage by ransomware, and having malicious code injected into legitimate code. The size of the attack can affect how big the impact is. A cyber attack can involve something as innocuous as unauthorized credit card purchases, or as severe as injecting malware into an organization’s code base and erasing their entire system.
Even the best cybersecurity cannot protect against every type of attack, but it can help reduce the risks and impact of such attacks.
Types of Cybersecurity
The term “cybersecurity” can be used to describe various things related to security in the digital world. The term can be broken down into more specific subcategories, for example: computer security, information security, network security, and so on. Below we’ll walk through five major types of cybersecurity.
Application security, or AppSec, refers to the practice of developing, adding, and testing security features to web applications to protect them against attacks. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities, security misconfigurations, and design flaws to inject malicious code, expose sensitive data, compromise systems, and cause other negative impacts. HubSpot’s CMS Hub provides a free web application firewall (WAF) that can protect your site and content from malicious attacks. The WAF works by blocking malicious traffic before it reaches your site.
The application layer is the most vulnerable part of cybersecurity, so AppSec is one of the most important types. Imperva research has found that in the last few years, almost half of all data breaches have come from web applications.
Cloud security is a relatively recent type of cybersecurity. The protection of cloud computing environments, applications, and data is known as cloud security.
Although cloud providers have security protocols and features in place, clients are also responsible for configuring their cloud service properly and using it safely.
Critical Infrastructure Security
It includes both physical and cyber security. Critical infrastructure security is the practice of protecting the critical infrastructure of a region or nation, which includes both physical and cyber security. The infrastructure refers to the physical and cyber networks, systems, and assets that provide physical and economic security or public health and safety. An example of a region’s infrastructure would be its electricity grid, hospitals, traffic lights, and water systems.
A lot of infrastructure these days is digital or internet-based. This means that it is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and needs to be protected.
Internet of Things (IoT) security
Internet of Things security refers to the practice of protecting devices that connect to the internet and can communicate with the network independently of human action. This refers to devices such as baby monitors, printers, security cameras, and motion sensors, as well as the networks to which they are connected.
Since IoT devices often collect and store personal information, like a person’s name, age, location, and health data, it is important to take measures to protect against unauthorized access and other threats.
The practice of protecting computer networks and data from external and internal threats is called network security. There are various Identity and access controls that can help protect data, such as firewalls, virtual private networks, and two-factor authentication.
##### There are three main types of network security: physical, technical, and administrative. The main goal of network security is to ensure that only authorized users have access to network components, data, and infrastructure.
Types of Cyber Attacks
A cyber attack is an illegal and purposefully malicious act committed in order to exploit, modify, or delete sensitive information. Cyber attacks are committed by hackers who are not authorized to access the system and by employees or users who have been compromised. These cyber-attacks are committed for a variety of reasons. Some people are looking for a ransom when they launch a viruses, while others do it for fun.
Here is a summary of the most common cyber threats.
Password Guessing (Brute Force) Attack
A password guessing attack is where an attacker attempts to constantly guess usernames and passwords. The attack will use the username and password combinations from past data breaches.
An attacker gains access to people’s accounts when they use weak passwords or the same password for different systems. The best way to protect against this type of attack is to use strong passwords and to avoid using the same password in multiple places. You should also use two-factor authentication, which we will discuss later.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to make a system or network unavailable by flooding it with traffic from multiple sources.
This is usually done by using botnets, which are groups of devices that are connected to the internet and infected by viruses. This allows the hacker to use them to perform many different types of attacks.
SQL Injection Attack
An SQL injection attack is where an attacker enters malicious code into an unprotected form or search box which then allows them access to view and change the website’s database. The attacker could create new accounts, add unauthorized links and content, edit or delete data using SQL (Structured Query Language).
This is a common security issue for WordPress websites since SQL is the preferred language for managing databases.
Malicious software programs use social engineering tactics and other measures to trick users and avoid security controls so they can install themselves secretly on systems and devices. Examples include rootkits, Trojan horses, spyware, and ransomware. Cobb covers malware of the latter type in more detail.
Phishing usually happens over email, where an attacker pretends to be a reputable person or organization to trick victims into giving away valuable information. While spear phishing targets specific individuals or companies, whaling goes after senior executives.
Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection Attack in which malicious scripts and code are injected into web applications and website content. It can be used to do bad things like steal session cookies, spread malware, ruin websites, and try to get user passwords.
A botnet is a collection of devices that have been infected with malware and can be controlled remotely by attackers. Some common uses for botnets include spamming people’s email accounts, clicking on ads fraudulently to generate income, and creating traffic that overloads a website as part of a denial-of-service attack.
Why Is Cybersecurity Important in Business?
If your business has weak cybersecurity protections, it could experience serious problems. Security breaches that gain access to customer records and other sensitive information are high-profile consequences of network intrusions and attacks. Some prominent examples include the following:
- a 2021 incident in which data on 533 million Facebook users was leaked in a hacking forum, an exposure that the company said was the result of attackers scraping the data from its social network before it updated a feature to prevent such actions in 2019;
- a breach disclosed by Microsoft in 2020 that resulted in 250 million customer service and support records from 14 years being exposed online;
- a multiyear breach at Marriott International Inc. that, it said, exposed personal data from as many as 383 million guest records;
- a 2017 breach at consumer credit rating agency Equifax that affected 147 million people in the U.S.; and
- two major breaches at Yahoo, one in 2014 involving records from 500 million user accounts and the other exposing all 3 billion accounts the company had when it occurred in 2013.
Beside the possible loss of business due to negative publicity and strained customer relationships, data breaches can also have a direct financial cost. Equifax agreed to pay a maximum of $700 million in fines and restitution to those affected by its data breach as part of a settlement with different U.S. agencies and state governments. $1.5 billion has been spent on cybersecurity improvements by Equifax since the breach, Jamil Farshchi stated during MIT Technology Review’s CyberSecure 2020 virtual conference.
Other types of attacks are designed to extract money from organizations. There are ransom programs where attackers use encryption to Lock data files and then demand a payment for the decryption key. DDoS attacks that shut down websites and other online systems are also used to try to get companies to pay money to the attackers.
What Are the Business Benefits of Cybersecurity?
Strong network security and other cybersecurity protections can help avoid business problems. Organizations can avoid disruptions and financial hits from attacks enabled by lax cybersecurity by continuing to operate smoothly. It is important for security teams to track metrics on cybersecurity in order to show business executives and board members how security initiatives contribute to the company. Metrics that should be tracked include intrusion attempts, response times, and performance comparisons against industry benchmarks.
Cybersecurity efforts can help companies achieve their goals. Achieving cybersecurity also bolsters a company’s ability to pursue environmental, social, and governance initiatives.
What Cybersecurity Challenges Do Businesses Face?
Even a well-designed cybersecurity strategy can be undone by a single weak point. Security professionals need to stop all attacks to be successful, while attackers only need to break through an organization’s defenses once. In trying to prevent that from happening, cybersecurity teams face several challenges:
- constantly evolving security threats and attack methods;
- increasing opportunities for attacks as data volumes, digital operations, and remote work grow;
- a large attack surface due to the proliferation of systems, applications, mobile devices, and other endpoint technologies;
- new security needs to be driven by expanding use of the cloud and IoT;
- sophisticated and well-funded adversaries, including state-sponsored cybercrime efforts;
- the use of AI and machine learning technologies to automate attacks;
- budget, staffing, and resource limitations;
- a shortage of workers with cybersecurity skills; and
- a lack of cybersecurity awareness among business users.
Supply chain attacks, growth in remote work, and hybrid workforces are top cybersecurity challenges that organizations face, according to an article by SearchSecurity executive editor Sharon Shea. The article also cites an ongoing spike in ransomware attacks as a challenge. According to Shea, there is no foolproof way to safeguard networks, systems, applications, and data, but all of these security concerns need to be addressed nonetheless. In her writing, she noted that the threats and challenges faced by enterprises will only continue to grow in both number and severity, and that current defenses are woefully inadequate to deal with them.
An alternative to improving your cybersecurity is to outsource it to a managed security service provider. This would reduce costs and take the pressure off of you to deal with the challenges and complexities. In another article, technology writer Mary K. Pratt lists 15 benefits of outsourcing cybersecurity, as well as the potential drawbacks of managed services and some best practices for working with an MSSP. CISO as a service is an outsourcing option that includes information security leadership responsibilities.
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