Cyber security, what is it, and how does it work? The combination of techniques, technologies, and human resources used to protect computer systems is called cyber security. The object of protection is both the computer system and all data it may contain. Cyber security strives to address both current matters and potential cyber-attacks that may occur in the future.
The purpose of this article is to answer the question “what is cyber security?”, discuss its types, provide information about common cyber-threats, and ultimately help you establish the best cyber security practices that can withstand any future cyber-attack.
Why is cybersecurity important?
Cybersecurity is more important that ever because:
Increasing cost of cybercrime
Until recently, only the largest corporations and government companies prioritized cybersecurity. With the latest advancement in internet and communication technology, even smaller brands and individuals are sharing and handling incredible amounts of data and information daily, expanding the list of targets for cyber-attackers. If attacked, the potential data loss can result in significant loss—both financial and reputational.
Increasing attack complexity
The complexity of cyber-attacks has substantially grown in the past several years. Not only do cybercriminals deploy more advanced hacking tools, they now also have ability to coordinate larger groups and orchestrate more convoluted attacks.
Legal requirements for cybersecurity
The law in several countries and industries wants to ensure that companies that handle sensitive information regarding numerous consumers or public safety are capable of fending cyber-attacks off. Hence businesses have to comply with cybersecurity-related requirements to meet regulations or face the threat of legal action
What types of cyber threats does cybersecurity protect from?
Most cybersecurity solutions actively seek out these common threats and feature pre-planned responses for each category.
Cyber threats can be divided into numerous groups, such as botnets, remote-access Trojans, rootkits, spyware, viruses, and worms. All of these threats are called “malware”, or malicious software. Criminals install them into the system to interrupt the normal working of your IT systems. Ransomware is a special type of malware that demands a ransom to restore normal system access.
Another type of cyber threat is “phishing”, which revolves around scam emailing attempts at leaking information or granting access to the target’s system. Phishing attacks are often customized and rely on social engineering to exploit human weaknesses instead of the system’s software-based defenses. Phishing attacks are commonly resolved by a combination of methods, such as red teaming, hosting seminars to educate in-house cybersecurity personnel, or outsourcing quality email verification tools.
What is spooling in cyber security?
In cybersecurity, spooling refers to attacks on data stored in temporary buffers. For example, when you send a print request to your printer, the printer saves the file data in a temporary memory buffer. Even after printing finishes, this “spooled” data remains accessible until over-written by the next print request.
In complex IT environments, such as those with many machines having different operating systems networked together, it is common to find a shared print spool on a shared printer. Cyber-attackers hack the shared spools to obtain system-level authorization, or in worse cases access to administrator privileges. They can then access, modify, or infect your system with malware. Numerous types of devices are vulnerable to spooling attacks including computer mice, keyboards, and data input terminals.
What is whaling in cyber security?
Whaling is a form of phishing used by cyber-attackers to target the top level executives of a company by tricking them into performing certain actions, such as transferring cash to the attacker’s account, leaking critical information, or granting access/system privileges to the target’s system.
The term “whaling” is derived from the targets – the “whales” of a particular company are top-level professionals who often have the highest levels of access to systems and networks; the broadest privileges, and information about system vulnerabilities. Whaling attacks may also revolve around the attacker impersonating a key figure of a reputable company; the attack may come through email, via social media networks, or even in person if the target is not familiar with the object of impersonation.
One of the main tasks of cyber defense teams is to monitor the authenticity of emails (and content) sent to the company’s executives and high-ranking members, as whaling attacks are typically executed as such.
What is cloning in cyber security?
Cloning, clone attacks, or clone phishing is another form of phishing used by cyber-attackers to gain information or access to the target’s system. The attacker “clones” an email that comes from a verified source, alters it with malware contents and sends it to the original recipient. The efficiency of cloning attacks depends on the attacker’s ability to create a sense of authenticity about the infected email. Basic tools are required to mimic the aesthetic elements while high-end equipment is often used to place nearly undetectable malware content.
One of the main reasons why cloning attacks are dangerous is that many people exclusively read the specifics they are interested in and often miss the details that would otherwise give a cloned email away.
What is spear phishing in cyber security?
Spear phishing is a type of phishing that targets specific individuals or groups and utilizes a “lure” based on their interests. It’s a type of scam-based communication that is supposed to lead its targets to infected websites which would infect the system with malware. A certain level of social engineering is deployed in all phishing attacks, but it is the highest in spear phishing. The attacker needs to gather as much information about the targeted individual/group before composing a believable email. Advanced email security is the best form of defense against spear phishing. These attacks are thoroughly customized and are much harder to discover than other types of phishing.
What are the five types of cybersecurity?
The five types of cyber security include:
- Infrastructure security – protects vital infrastructure, including data centers or communication bases, without which your organization cannot continue functioning
- Information security – protects your business data from leaking, being stolen, or destroyed
- Network security – protects your network by denying access to any device or person attempting to join or access network data without proper clearance
- Application security – encompasses various processes regarding the development and use of technologies to protect or discover vulnerabilities in your application software
- Internet of Things(IoT) security – includes the cyber security of machines, devices, and objects (things)
Implementing all five types of cyber security into the cyber security systems of a business requires technically capable staff and regulated protocols.
What are the three main pillars of cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity strategies are built on the CIA concept:
- The C stands for Confidentiality — preserving authorized restrictions on information access and disclosure, including means for protecting personal privacy and proprietary information
- The I stands for Integrity — guarding against improper information modification or destruction and ensuring information non-repudiation and authenticity
- The A stands for Availability — ensuring timely and reliable access to and use of information.
What are some of the best cybersecurity practices for your organization?
The requirements for cybersecurity measures are different for each company. Each organization should strive to reinforce its weakest cyber defenses while working towards improving other aspects. Some of the best IT security practices that all organizations should implement are:
Principle of lowest privilege
The principle of lowest privilege is based on both programs and human staff getting the lowest-ranking permissions for their daily tasks. They should have system access to only what they need to complete their work and nothing more. Should a cyberattack succeed, the compromised elements will pose less of a threat, as they could not provide the required access to information/system.
Implement regimented password-related policies
Brute force attacks are the most effective when aimed at weak (easy-to-guess) passwords. It is important to work towards stricter password policies alongside raising awareness of this type of cyberattack among your employees. The efforts of using stronger passwords are meaningless if employees are not educated on proper password storage (keeping passwords on computers would defeat the purpose).
Test your system effectively
Penetration testing is the process of testing your cybersecurity measures by simulating cyber attacks. You can use various tools to write, test, as well and run exploit codes. In-house pen-testing on a regular basis gives greater confidence in implemented cybersecurity measures. For example, Metasploit is a modular pen testing platform designed to write, test, and run exploit codes. It is a streamlined penetration testing tool with a shallow learning curve that can enable your organization to engage in in-house pen-testing on a regular basis. Other than Metasploit, you may also consider using OpenVas, BurpSuite, or similar tool options.
Establish a security operations center
Most companies and organizations either outsource or have their own security operations center(SOC). While third-party pen testing and threat-detection tools are a step up from having no cybersecurity measures at all, SOCs provide an all-encompassing solution to the majority of IT security needs your organization may have.
The main responsibilities of a security operations center revolve around threat prevention, which comprises staff IT security training and advanced threat intelligence; detection tasks, including reporting, supporting, and performing vulnerability assessments; and protection, enveloping threat hunting, system monitoring, and creating backups.
Host cybersecurity training seminars
No matter how much money is invested in state-of-the-art tools and programs, their full potential cannot be realized without properly trained and well-educated staff manning the equipment. An organization that wants to ensure its cybersecurity defenses are on par, if not superior to the technology and knowledge in possession of cybercriminals, should devote a portion of its budget to training its in-house cybersecurity team. Even if your organization is outsourcing a SOC, having competent employees can only benefit your company.
What should be on your cybersecurity checklist?
There are numerous ways to optimize the performance of your cybersecurity defenses. If your organization has already adopted some of the aforementioned cybersecurity practices, you may want to consider some of the following suggestions:
Outsource your security operations center
Developing an in-house SOC costs time and money and you may still not be able to access the expertise required for complex attacks. SOC as a Service is a third party group of professional cybersecurity experts who continually monitor your network environment for anomalies. Anomalies could be false positives or an ongoing attack that must be mitigated. SOC providers manually review anomalies and determine the next best steps. An outsourced SOC provides an organization with the expertise necessary to monitor all endpoints, user behavior patterns, and network traffic.
Invest in advanced cybersecurity tools
Consider upgrading your system’s antivirus software, network defense tools, encryption programs, network security monitoring apps, or building a more robust firewall.
Augment your cybersecurity staff
It is not uncommon for cybersecurity training seminars to yield unpredictable results. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that all staff members will reap desired benefits. Onboarding an experienced cybersecurity expert, preferably someone with the qualifications of a trainer, could benefit your organization more. Cybersecurity techniques and equipment are a complex topic that require practical examples and strong leadership.
What does a cybersecurity analyst do?
Cybersecurity analysts are IT experts equipped with advanced skills and in-depth knowledge about securing an organization’s IT infrastructure. Cyber analysts typically possess extensive knowledge and practical skills in the fields of network security control, incident response, intrusion detection, scripting, IT frameworks, DevSecOps, and cloud-based applications.
The main responsibility of all cybersecurity analysts is to monitor the firm’s IT infrastructure continuously and coordinate the in-house team when incidents occur. During penetration testing sessions, red teams often collaborate with the cyber analysts, especially during white-box testing.
Another important role of cybersecurity analysts is breach prevention. Analysts are expected to leverage their knowledge and experience to accurately predict data attacks and devise solutions to prevent them from happening. It is also the role of a cyber analyst to create contingency plans that would keep the company’s IT system operational, should a cyber-attack on a larger scale occur.
How can DIESEC™ help?
DIESEC™ is a global cybersecurity company founded in 2009, offering a host of cybersecurity services, including pentesting, cyber threat intelligence, cybersecurity governance & compliance, risk management, counter-social engineering, digital forensics, and more. We have offices in Germany, USA, Australia and Ukraine, and customers from all over the world.
Boasting an industry-leading in-house team of cybersecurity professionals, DIESEC™ is on a mission to equip organizations with cutting-edge cybersecurity tools and solutions capable of transforming any company into an impregnable digital fortress. Contact us today to discover how we can help with your cybersecurity requirements!