What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity consists of processes, procedures, and tools that businesses and individuals use to protect computers, servers, mobile devices, networks, applications, electronic systems, software, and information from malicious cyberattacks.  

Businesses and individuals use cybersecurity to prevent unauthorized access to information and systems.

Key Takeaways

  • Cybersecurity features the measures and processes businesses and individuals put in place to protect hardware, software, and data from unauthorized access
  • There are various elements of cybersecurity like network security, application security, information security, operational security, disaster recovery, business continuity, and end-user education
  • Threats affecting cybersecurity include malware, ransomware, social engineering, and phishing
  • Effective cybersecurity strategy combines people, process, and technology components

Cybersecurity Areas of Focus

The people, processes, and technology (PPT) must complement one another to maintain an effective cybersecurity strategy.

People must understand and comply with security principles, such as using strong passwords, detecting phishing emails, preventing devices from physical loss, and backing up data. 

Companies should implement frameworks for dealing with cybersecurity and cyberattacks. Processes in cybersecurity feature procedures that guide users on identifying attacks, protecting systems, detecting breaches, responding to threats, and recovering from cyber incidents.

Technology provides tools that you need to mitigate cyberattacks. Technology features security solutions that prevent computers, smart devices, networks, and the cloud from hackers. Examples of technology solutions include firewalls, antivirus, DNS filtering, malware protection, virtual private networks, and email security solution.

Elements of Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity term applies in a range of contexts and categories such as:

  • Network security – procedures, controls, and tools that businesses and individuals use to secure a computer network from intruders
  • Application security – measures put in place to prevent software from malicious attacks. Hackers exploit applications to access and steal information
  • Information security – controls that ensure the privacy, integrity, and availability of data, both in transit and at rest
  • Operational security – features processes and policies for protecting and handling data and systems. Operational security features aspects like permissions users have when accessing systems and procedures a business uses to determine where and how to store information
  • Disaster recovery – consists of steps a business or an individual take to recover from a cybersecurity incident or any event that causes loss of data
  • Business continuity – this is the plan that organizations follow to continue operating during a data breach, even without the affected resources
  • Enduser education – involves training users to detect and delete malicious emails, avoid plugging risky USB drives, and other best practices to mitigate cyberthreats

Threats to Cybersecurity

Hackers use malicious activities and tools to access, delete, or modify sensitive information. Businesses and individuals face challenges in ensuring the security of systems and data because of rapidly changing technologies.

Some of the threats to cybersecurity include:

  • Malware – this is a form of malicious software that harms computer users. Malware includes dangerous programs like computer viruses, worms, spyware, trojan horses, and adware.
  • Ransomware –ransomware is a prevalent malware that hackers use to lock a victim’s computer files through encryption and demanding payment to unlock the files
  • Social engineering – this cybersecurity threat leverages human interaction and trust to trick users into performing actions that enable criminals to steal sensitive information
  • Phishing – Phishing is a form of fraud where hackers send fraudulent emails and messages that resemble details from reputable sources. Phishing attacks enable cybercriminals to steal sensitive information, such as credit card and login credentials.
  • Denial of service attacks – hackers cause a denial of service attack by sending overwhelming traffic to networks and servers, therefore preventing systems from meeting legitimate requests

Why is Cybersecurity Important?

Individuals, businesses, and governments collect and hold vital information that hackers steal for financial and other gains. Cybersecurity protects confidential information relating to national security, health, personal, and financial records from unauthorized access.

Cybersecurity prevents cyberattacks that cause identity theft, extortion attempts, loss of sensitive information, and loss of money.