What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is the defense of computers, data, networks, systems and information from attackers. Now that computers are one of the most important tools in our workplaces, cyber security professionals play a critical role in protecting important information and maintaining productivity.

The field of cyber security has several specializations. Each focuses on a distinct area of digital defense, such as network security, information security and disaster recovery. All these areas serve an essential function in the modern workplace.

But what is cyber security, and what is needed to make it effective? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and others like: 

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What Types of Cyber Threats are There?

There are several different types of cyber threats for information security experts to watch out for. Three well-known threats are cybercrime, cyberattacks and cyberterrorism.

One useful way to tell the difference between a cybercrime and cyberterrorism is the motive. Cyberterrorism tends to be carried out by organized groups who claim responsibility for the attack, and explain their motive for a specific target. Cybercrime tends to more anonymous and is often done with the aim of making money, not to make any sort of public statement.

Here are a few methods used by criminals carrying out a cyber threat: 

  • Malware: An abbreviation for "malicious software," malware includes several types of software like adware, botnets, spyware, viruses and ransomware. Malware relies on getting someone to install software, or forcefully installing software, onto their device.

  • Phishing: This is a type of cybercrime that targets people typically through email. Phishing emails tend to pose as a legitimate entity, like a bank or the IRS, in order to get users to hand over sensitive data. Similar scams are often carried out through the mail or through phone calls and text messages. 

  • Denial of service (DoS): A denial of service attack (DoS attack) aims to prevent computer systems, such as a website, from performing basic functions and requests by overwhelming the server with illegitimate traffic. Many notable denial of service attacks have occurred in the form of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), which relies on several computers rather than a single device.

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks: Man-in-the-middle attacks rely on unsecure networks to intercept sensitive data being transferred between two parties. An example of this attack would be someone breaking into a public Wi-Fi network and intercepting the bank password of someone accessing their checking account.

  • SQL injections: SQL (Structured Query Language) injections take control of a network by inserting a line of malicious code into a data-driven application. They are often used to break into secure databases and servers in an attempt to retrieve sensitive information.

A cybercriminal may use any of these methods to commit a cyberattack, cybercrime or cyberterrorism. The main elements that determine which category a threat fits into are the scale of the attack and the goal. For instance, cyberterrorism may be committed against a government or major company, while a cybercrime can be committed against an individual.

Why is Cyber Security Important?

As you can see, there are several different threats that can compromise the safety and security of your personal information. But even if you manage to keep yourself safe, chances are that some of your information is in the hands of larger institutions. Should one of those organizations fall victim to an attack, your data could be compromised. Luckily, cyber security specialists can help prevent these costly attacks, making them critical to the safety of your data.

How is Cyber Security Managed?

Cyber security is often managed in a top-down approach. Business leaders lead the charge to convey the importance of protecting company and customer data. With so many digitally literate people using the internet today, it's easy to imagine how any major company might be vulnerable to an attack. Therefore, it's the responsibility of business leaders to prioritize cyber security and work to identify threats to avoid a potential breach.

When protecting data is a concern, there are several steps that information security specialists can follow to facilitate effective responses and security measures. Some of these steps include:

  • Identify critical data:  In a world where cyberattacks are inevitable, you need to create a secure location where essential information is stored. This should include data like customer information, employee information and private company data.  

  • Assess risk: Identify the areas where risks are most likely to present themselves. This step often involves using ethical hacking skills to pinpoint areas of weakness in your data management defenses.

  • Develop a risk mitigation plan: Once the areas of high risk have been identified, a risk mitigation plan needs to be developed. This plan should focus on reinforcing areas where defenses are weak.

  • Create a response plan: Still, cyberattacks can still occur. To be prepared, you need a plan of action. These plans should focus on removing the harmful elements from your system, alerting affected parties and identifying the attackers.

How Can I Protect Myself?

Cyber security helps you keep yourself safe on the internet. Learning the ins and outs of cybercrime may sound complex from the outside, but anyone can, and should, learn basic web security. You can start by installing antivirus software and remaining aware and cautious while learning how to identify and avoid scams.

If you want to take things a step further, you can pursue a credential or degree in cyber security. For instance our Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Cyber Security can help teach you industry-specific methods to keep yourself and others safe from the threat of cybercriminals.

What Jobs are Available in Cyber Security?

There are several exciting jobs in the evolving field of cyber security. Opportunities can include:

  • Computer Systems Analyst: Computer systems analysts study existing computer systems and make recommendations for system improvements.

  • Computer Network Support Specialist: Network support specialists assist network users by answering their questions about how to perform functions in the network and help troubleshoot any issues.

  • Information Security Analyst: Information security analysts review the security of information systems and recommend upgrades and improvements.

  • Security Analyst: Security analysts observe the overall security of a company or system to ensure that it is safe from cyber threats. They also make recommendations to improve the system if it is deemed unsafe.

  • Penetration Tester (Ethical Hacker): Penetration testers (also known as pen testers) use hacking abilities to attempt to break into a computer network so they can identify areas of weakness and opportunities for improvement.

  • Vulnerability Assessor: Vulnerability assessors use a variety of methods to check for vulnerabilities within a computer network and  identify ways that those weaknesses could be strengthened.

Interested in Cyber Security?

The field of cyber security is evolving as the threat of cyberattacks and cyberterrorism becomes ever more prevalent. If any of these professions sound like an exciting career path, you might consider pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and Networking with a Cyber Security Specialization, an Associate Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking, or an Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security.

Request more info today to see how enrolling in this exciting program can help you protect yourself and others while giving you some of the tools you'll need to help go after a dynamic career in cyber security.