Everything you need to know about Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity defined and explored
Cybersecurity refers to the practice of preventing, protecting, and defending networks, devices, and electronic systems from malicious threats or cyberattacks. Normally, these digital attacks are designed with the intent of accessing, stealing, or destroying important data in order to disrupt normal business operations and gain control of sensitive information. In some extreme cases, cyberattacks are also used as a means of extorting money from users.
Therefore, cybersecurity is critical for any organization. Government, medical, corporate, and financial organizations all collect and deal with unprecedented amounts of information on a daily basis. This data is usually stored online, on company computers, or on other electronic devices. The data typically comprises highly sensitive and private information that can lead to severe consequences if leaked, deleted, or exposed. Moreover, it can put everyone at risk, from your employees to your clients.
Protection against the threat of cyberattacks should be a priority for all organizations. Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of this evolving danger and are orienting themselves to best protect their organization, employees, and other stakeholders from any kind of security breaches and cyberattacks. Through continuously updating their networks, providing their employees with risk management training, and implementing cybersecurity tools, both small startups and established businesses are finding ways to better equip themselves against cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks are highly dynamic and a continuously evolving danger for businesses. Attackers continue to innovate and find new loopholes that they can aggressively exploit. And while antivirus software in combination with frequent updates of your network system is a good defense, cybercrime has become far more sophisticated for these measures to be enough in the current environment. Professional hackers use diverse strategies and opportunities via phishing attempts as a means of breaking through an organization’s defenses.
Poor cybersecurity can put your entire organization at risk. Financial losses are probably the most obvious consequence of a cyberattack. Professional hackers are capable of initiating fraudulent transactions and taking over your money through unauthorized transfers once they have access to your system. Your entire company productivity comes to a halt as soon as you experience a cyberattack and normal businesses operations are disrupted or put on hold while the IT staff resolves the issue.
Additionally, in the aftermath of a cyberattack, your company’s reputation can suffer tremendously. In fact, even minor security breaches can cause your clients to doubt your ability to protect their information. Investors and other stakeholders, directly or indirectly involved in your business, can become skeptical as a result of a cyberattack.
Ultimately, a lack of trust on the part of the investors, coupled with lost productivity, a pause in normal business operations, and severe financial losses, can force your organization to close.
Making sure your business has good cybersecurity can have several benefits. With good cybersecurity, your business can enjoy the most comprehensive digital protection from diverse threats including, but not limited to:
Although the terms cybersecurity, computer security, and IT security are oftentimes used interchangeably, they mean very different things.
Computer security refers to the protection/ security of a single computer. Essentially, the term computer security refers to the protection and defense of the software and hardware of a standalone computer. This protection can be in diverse forms, such as keeping the computer software up-to-date, using anti-malware programs, and keeping the device properly patched.
In contrast, IT security refers to the protection of data and company information.
Cybersecurity, on the other hand, refers to the protection as well as the security of all networks, systems, devices (mobiles, computers, laptops, company printers, etc) as well as the intercommunication of all of these components. To ensure your business is secure from any outside threats, you need to implement proper cyber, computer, and IT security protocols.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, hackers have found a new way to infiltrate and breach company systems. Professional hackers jump for opportunities like the one created by the pandemic. They are now fooling companies by sending phishing emails, finding vulnerabilities, and installing malware on company systems.
In the first quarter of 2020 alone, there have been an estimated 907K spam messages related to COVID-19 that have emerged. The time period between February and March saw a 220x increase in spam, with 260% increase in malicious URLs, which were found to be the key tool used to fool users.
In fact, hackers in Iran have already started exploiting this loophole to their advantage. They are hacking VPN and planting backdoors in companies around the globe. Moreover, additional data shows that several Microsoft credentials have been stolen ever since the pandemic began with 4+ million Mac webcams being exposed.
In 2019 alone, at least 90% of businesses organizations were the victim of targeted phishing attacks, according to a report by ProofPoint. Interestingly enough, the report also revealed that most employees do not have the sufficient training to employ basic security measures to prevent these attacks from happening.
Perhaps the most alarming statistic was revealed in a study conducted at the University of Maryland that reported that there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds which affects 1 in 3 Americans almost every year. Most of these attacks are successful because most users have unsecure usernames and weak passwords. It has been found that almost 93% of security breaches occur as a direct result of human error.
These statistics are especially alarming for businesses because a lack of proper cybersecurity measures in place can end up leading to devastating consequences. Especially, because according to statistics, nearly 43% of cyberattacks are found to target small businesses. And it is reported that most companies take a minimum of at least 6 months to detect the attack.
The most common cybersecurity threats include:
As mentioned earlier, the majority of the statistics related to cybersecurity suggest that most cyberattacks occur as a result of human error. Social engineering refers to a set of malicious strategies used by an attacker to manipulate a victim into revealing information or taking an action that could cause serious damage.
Social engineering technique relies on the use of human interaction whereby the attacker first studies the victim and figures out the weak points. The attacker then exploits these weak areas to emotionally manipulate the victim into trusting them. Eventually, this leads to the victim trusting the attacker and revealing sensitive or confidential information.
Malware refers to any malicious software that infiltrates your computer and causes damage. These software are written with the intent of stealing information or generally causing severe damage to the device in use. Businesses can suffer significantly from malware attacks since it allows attackers to steal, delete, or use confidential business information as a means of demanding ransom.
Phishing is another form of cyberattack that relies on spam emails and fraudulent attempts on the part of the hacker to obtain access to a user’s private information such as usernames, passwords, and other sensitive personal information, like credit card numbers. Companies can suffer tremendously from these attacks. Attackers can not only steal data and private information, but they can put the reputation of the company in jeopardy as well. Most attackers also use this method as a means of stealing money from business organizations.
This is a type of malware that takes control of a computer, data, or system and denies access to it until a ransom is paid to the attacker. Phishing email and malicious websites are common entry points of ransomware. Both small and large organizations can suffer tremendously as a result of ransomware attacks and up losing crucial data as well as money in the process. Ransomware attacks are so common that at least one company is attacked every 14 seconds. Moreover, stats suggest that at least 55% of small businesses end up paying the ransom. The current projected damages caused as a result of ransomware are projected to be around $20 billion by 2021.
The dark web is a part of the internet that is normally inaccessible via traditional search-engines. It usually requires a very specific kind of software configuration or network in order to access it. Since it is essentially hidden, the dark web is used as the basis for carrying out several kinds of criminal activities. Attackers sell company information and personal information on the Dark Web, similar to how you would sell products on Etsy or Ebay. It’s a marketplace for selling stolen information and credentials, among several other criminal activities.
The majority of statistics related to cyberattacks suggest that most of these attacks are caused by human error. A simple way to protect your business is to have IT professionals implement cybersecurity measures on your behalf. Be sure to limit access to sensitive information by preventing employees from accessing it directly. Make sure your software and operating systems are patched up properly. Update your system and install proper firewalls and antivirus software.
David Richter is a Project Coordinator at TruTechnology. He graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Computer Information Systems and has a background in IT Help Desk Support and Healthcare Data Analytics. David enjoys working with our clients in a wide range of businesses, and he takes pride in working with them to make sure their needs are met at every step of the project.
In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, practicing piano, and dining at all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants in Jax Beach with the intent to eat so much that he forces them to change their business model.
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Tony Haskew has 15+ years of experience in the IT field. He started working as a web developer in the 90’s and over the years migrated into the administration of systems and infrastructures of companies.
Tony enjoys working on new technology and finding new ways to address old issues in the management of IT systems.
Outside of work, Tony is a 3D printing enthusiast, commission painter, and enjoys spending time with his family.
Junior IT Auditor
Shawn Hooton is a Junior IT Auditor at TruTechnology. Focused on technology alignment, comparing our client environments to our best practices and industry frameworks, he helps to ensure their businesses are kept as secure and stable as possible. The data returned from the reviews assists in overall business improvement through our proactive approach to client engagement and support.
Outside the office, Shawn enjoys writing, hiking, and finding the best roads on his motorcycle.