Cybersecurity 101: What are the Basics of Cybersecurity?
Chief Technology Evangelist
February 18, 2022
Cybersecurity is used to describe the methods, processes, and technologies that protect an organization against attacks on its data, apps, and broader network infrastructure. Cybersecurity is achieved through people, processes, and technology. A company can effectively achieve a ‘positive cybersecurity posture’ by using this tripartite approach.
Why is cybersecurity needed?
Cyber attacks have become more complex and increased in volume year over year.
Analyst firm Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that by 2025, cybercrime will cost organizations across the world $10.5 trillion. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), which has tracked data breaches since 2005, declared that 2021 was a “record-breaking year for data compromises.”
A robust approach to cybersecurity protects an organization against:
Exposure of sensitive and/or personal data as well as prevents Intellectual Property theft
Theft of login credentials that then enable access to corporate resources
Brand and reputation damage
Loss or damage to company IT assets
Share price impact from a cyber attacks
Fines and negative implications from non-compliance with data protection and privacy regulations
Loss of customer trust
What are the types of cybersecurity threats?
Security vulnerabilities open the door for cyber attacks. The Open Web Application Security Project® (OWASP) compiles a list of the top ten most common web-based security vulnerabilities. OWASP’s top five are: broken access control, cryptographic failures, injection, insecure design, and security misconfiguration.
The reasons behind cyber attacks are varied, but most (86%) attacks are financially motivated, according to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR). Threats include:
Accidental insiders: the EC-Council found that 64% of data loss was due to insiders who “meant well.”
Cybercrime is a profitable business, and new tools such as ‘as-a-service’ options, e.g., Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), make cybercrime widely accessible. These SaaS tools have helped to take cybersecurity threats to new levels of volume and complexity.
How are cybersecurity threats controlled?
Companies worldwide must deal with the threat of cybersecurity attacks and ensure that they meet the requirements of stringent data protection and privacy laws. This tall order is helped by frameworks such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) that sets out guidelines and advisories that help maintain a secure corporate environment.
These frameworks recognize that cybersecurity comprises three pillars: people, processes, and technology. This is the foundation of an information security management system (ISMS):
People: everyone in the organization and any associates should be offered security awareness training.
Processes: covers roles, activities, security policies, and other operational processes impacting cybersecurity posture.
Technology: many security tools can be used to prevent cybersecurity attacks. Many modern technologies utilize artificial intelligence (AI), such as deep learning (DL) and machine learning (ML), to sift through and alert of the many millions of cybersecurity events that can happen daily. Cybersecurity technologies include: those based on behavioral analytics, such as user and entity behavioral analytics (UEBA); zero trust enabling technologies such as Identity and Access Management (IAM); and robust authentication mechanisms such as in-built hardware authentication.
What are some cybersecurity best practices?
Protecting your organization from cyberattacks involves having a solid cybersecurity strategy in place. To reduce your vulnerability, you’ll have to ensure certain best practices are being carried out.
Identity and Access Management
Identity and Access Management (IAM) involves defining specific roles and privileges to determine what users can access and what they can’t. Because a user’s identity is now matched to their activity, it becomes easier to track down suspicious activity and speed up investigations.
Education and training are vital for any organization’s cybersecurity. When the workforce is adequately trained and kept aware of the security risks, they are more likely to be cautious around their cyber-activities.
Moving away from passwords helps a great deal with protecting your information. According to the DBIR, more than half of data breaches happening today are because of compromised credentials. Using passwordless authentication, such as biometrics or one-time codes, the risks that come with easy-to-guess or reused passwords can be eliminated.
Automated Backup Mechanisms
Implementing mechanisms to ensure all your files, folders, and systems are consistently backed up is also essential. Backups won’t be able to prevent an attack, but they will make sure you have a clean copy of your data available in case of a compromise.
Data Security Strategy
Having a solid data security strategy helps you understand how you should handle sensitive data and information - from customer data to intellectual property. Understanding this enables you to develop ways to protect your data from security breaches and thus helps build trust between an organization and its customers.
Besides implementing all of the above, you need to keep a check on your systems and applications as well. Regularly scanning for vulnerabilities and maintaining up-to-date security measures on risks is necessary.
Automated Patch Management
And yet, there will always be the chance of something slipping under the radar. Having automated patch management in place makes sure that patches are applied to all systems and applications as soon as they are released, without the need for human intervention. This helps reduce vulnerabilities as much as possible.
Perhaps the biggest challenge with cybersecurity nowadays is the speed at which cyber threats evolve, and the volume of sensitive data organizations have on hand. With the growing number of attacks every year, a proper understanding and implementation of cybersecurity have become increasingly important.
What are industry bodies doing to help cybersecurity efforts?
Data protection and privacy laws and IT security regulations provide a series of principles that are used to ensure that data and other IT assets are protected.
The prevalence of cybersecurity threats to businesses worldwide has led to new and updated data protection regulations. These include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enacted in 2018 to manage personal data privacy.
The US has no broad federal law that covers cybersecurity. However, some U.S. state laws are similar in nature to the GDPR. This includes the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that came into effect in 2020, with an updated act due in 2023. Data breach notification requirements are enforced in all 50 U.S. states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.