What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is the act of defending computers, data, networks, systems and information from attackers. Ever since computers became the primary tool of the workplace, cyber security professionals have played an important role in protecting valuable information and maintaining productivity.

The field offers several specializations, each focusing on a particular area of digital defense, including network security, information security and disaster recovery. Each of these distinct areas serves a vital function in the modern economy.

But what is cyber security, and what is needed to make it effective? In this article, we’ll answer this and other questions 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 be aware of. The threat types can be broken into various categories based on the reason for the attack or the type of attack. The three most common types of threats are cybercrime, cyberattacks and cyberterrorism. 

Here are a few of the most common methods used to initiate a cyberattack:

  • Malware: This is an abbreviation for "malicious software," and it is exactly that. It includes several types of software like adware, botnets, spyware, viruses and ransomware. This threat type relies on getting someone to install software, or forcefully installing software, onto their device. 

  • Phishing: This is a common type of cybercrime that targets people through email. Phishing emails often rely on posing 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/text messages. 

  • Denial of service (DoS): A denial of service 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 (DD0S) that 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 involve taking control of a network by inserting a line of malicious code into a data-driven application. It is most often used to break into secure databases and servers 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 it 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 typically managed in a top-down approach. This means that business leaders need to lead the charge in conveying the importance of protecting company and customer data. With so many digitally literate people, 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 and 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 the most essential information is stored- like a safe in a bank or office. This should include things like customer information, employee information and company secrets. While all your data should be protected, some can be much more damaging if its lost. 

  • 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 is also essential for keeping yourself safe. While learning the ins and outs of how to prevent attacks and combat cybercrime can be complex, anyone can learn basic web security practices. You can get started by installing antivirus software and practicing digital literacy to learn 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, at DeVry, our Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Cyber Security can 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 Network Support Specialist

  • Information Security Analyst

  • Security Analyst

  • Penetration Tester (Ethical Hacker)

  • Vulnerability Assessor

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.  

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