As cyber threats continue to grow in sophistication, an increasing number of midsize businesses are being impacted. To ensure protection, organizations must be vigilant and proactive. Yet, this is difficult to do with limited knowledge around the rising threats and the increasing digital threat surface. As the Internet has grown, so have the connections between devices of all sorts. Anything with the label “smart” can be hacked. So then, it becomes a delicate balance between using technologies to make work more efficient and ensuring cyber security. Long gone are the days when a complicated password was enough to protect digital data. So then, let’s start by defining cyber security.

What does cyber security mean?

Cyber security are the processes and tactics used to protect computer systems, networks, sensitive data, and applications from cyber threats. Some of the most popular ways cyber criminals have gained access include the following below:

  • Tampering with systems
  • Unauthorized access
  • Resource exploitation
  • Ransomware

Cyber security is an evolving field as a cyber security managed service provider fully understands it based on the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) framework guides the five critical aspects of the field:

  • Identify threats
  • Detect intrusions
  • Protect data
  • Respond to attacks
  • Recover databases and systems and rebuild cyber security defenses

Now, let’s take a look at some of the key terms and basic concepts of cyber security.

Ransomware
Ransomware is designed as an encryption algorithm which encrypts target files and/or targeted systems so that the owners can’t access these files and systems without a new and unknown password. Cyber criminals use money to extort money from their victims, i.e. a ransom in exchange for resumed access.

Botnets
Botnets sound like what they are, a connected group of “bots” that execute a task such as injecting malware to disrupt networks and files. The threat of botnets is palpable especially when they are powered by artificial intelligence (AI), millions of bots can work in conjunction against any network.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
DDoS is often carried out by botnets in the form of spreading spam messages, sharing confidential email, and essentially denying service from one network/system to another.

Social engineering
Social engineering is a very popular cyber threat because it doesn’t require any coding skills. All the cyber criminal has to do is to know enough about their victims, and whomever they are impersonating, to craft the right message that unlocks the networks they want. For instance, a cyber criminal might impersonate a company’s CFO and request confidential passwords for financial accounts. They might also impersonate sweepstakes ensuring winnings and requiring account numbers to deposit the windfall. Further, they can really impersonate anyone they choose, and it only takes one success to get what they want. Unfortunately, there aren’t any comprehensive protections against social engineering tactics other than training staff on how to figure out if they have fallen victim to social engineering and to always verify the source before sending sensitive data or opening links, attachments, and URLs.

Cryptojacking
Cryptocurrency is becoming much more popular and valuable. Once a niche industry, it is now becoming mainstream – even Paypal is cashing in on the crypto currency wave. So are cyber criminals. Cryptocurrency hijacking involves the injection of mining codes into their preferred system and silently collecting the currencies. They can also shut down cryptocurrency operations or lock accounts and use ransomware.

Phishing
Phishing is a form of social engineering, and is quite effective. Appearing legitimate via email or text is not difficult. All phishers need to understand is what types of topics would induce their victims to respond with credit card numbers, bank accounts, or login credentials. During the pandemic, many cyber criminals exploited the virus to individuals who were logically concerned and ended up sharing sensitive health data.

Cyber security basics

It helps to think of cyber security in line with what the CIA describes as the triad: Confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Confidentiality
Confidentiality is about restricting access to sensitive data to only privileged users. There are various methods for ensuring confidentiality such as data classification, security tokens, two-factor authentication, and data encryption. Additionally, staff are trained around how and when to share information.

Integrity
Integrity of data must include accuracy, consistency, and trustworthiness. Essentially, the data should not be modified or altered in any way during transit. One way to support integrity is by using file permissions for access control. Moreover, tools should be in place to detect any breaches. And, cryptographic checksums can be used for integrity verification. Cloud-based backups help to ensure data retention and recovery in the event of a disaster.

Availability
Availability refers to all systems, hardware, networks, devices, and software functioning smoothly without disruption. And, these systems are in consistent communication with the bandwidth to do so. However, it is critical to deploy cloud-based backups, disaster recovery tools, and firewalls to address any bottlenecks or unexpected disasters.

Final thought

In the digital age, every organization must approach cyber security with the right people, processes, technology, and networks. This approach can be hamstrung with the cyber security professional shortage. The good news is SSI is here to help with a highly-trained and experienced team of cyber security professionals ready to give your company the defensive edge it needs.