Discover the benefits and potential threats of our tech-dependent lives. In this full guide, you will learn about every crucial step you have to take about cybersecurity.
Look around, and what do you see? Your everyday life is more dependent on technology than ever before. The merits of these dependencies range from the modern conveniences provided by smart automation technologies to the almost instant access to information on the Internet and advanced concepts like the Internet of Things.
With so many benefits of technology, it is hard to believe that technology has its share of evil as well. Look around again, and you will realize that not all is as good as it seems. Potential threats are lurking behind every platform and device. The cozy perception of modern technology is covered by the dark cloud of cyber security threats and poses a real danger to our lives.
The need of the hour is cyber security and understanding how it works.
Cyber security is the field of information that helps enterprises and businesses defend their machines, devices, and services from electronic attacks by dubious actors such as hackers, spammers, and cybercriminals. The defense mechanism is for protection against ransomware attacks, identity thefts, phishing schemes, data breaches, and financial losses.
While some portions of cyber security are meant to strike before cybercrime takes place, most of the focus is on determining the best way to defend assets, including computers, smartphones, networks, and databases, from attacks.
Cyber security has been used as a broad term by the media to describe the process of protecting assets from any form of cybercrime. While these labels are logical, they fail to capture the true cyber security meaning for those with proper knowledge or experience in the digital industry.
Hence, cyber security discusses technologies, practices, and processes designed to shield programs, networks, devices, and data from damage, attack, or unauthorized access. Cybersecurity is also popular as information technology security.
Every organization, including the government, corporate, military, medical, and financial sectors, collects, processes, and stores unprecedented amounts of data on computers and other devices. A considerable portion of the data collected can be sensitive information, whether financial data, intellectual property, personal information, or other variants of data - a breach or unauthorized access can lead to dire consequences.
Organizations, in their course of business, use sensitive data across networks and transmit it to other devices. Cybersecurity technology defines the discipline dedicated to protecting sensitive information from data predators.
So, what does cybersecurity do? How is it important?
As the sophistication and volume of cyber-attacks increase, organizations concerned with safeguarding sensitive information related to national security, financial, or health records need to take steps to protect such information. Today cyber-attacks and digital spying are greater threats to national and corporate security, eclipsing even international terrorism.
An analysis of the biggest cybersecurity lapses in the last decade provides a better picture of cybersecurity's importance. With the continued amplification of the internet, networks, and sophisticated devices, we have been exposed to some of the worst cybercrimes.
In 2011, Sony's PlayStation network suffered multiple cyber-attacks. The event exposed more than 77 million user data, including names, passwords, emails, and more. The outage lasted for 23 days.
In October 2013, Adobe Inc., one of the most recognizable names in the software world, announced that its system was compromised in a big way affecting 38 million users. One hundred fifty-eight million breached records were dumped online. As a result, Adobe was fined 1 million USD for the lapse.
Most of us are aware of the Edward Snowden leak of classified NSA documents in 2013. Snowden, an ex-CIA, exposed the large-scale data surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) through two prominent news outlets - The Guardian and The Washington Post.
In 2013 and 2014, Target and Home Depot credit card data were stolen and resurfaced on the Ukrainian cybercrime shop Rescator. More than 110 million customers' file data of Target and 56 million card numbers of Home Depot were breached through the point-of-sale malware - BlackPOS.
Yahoo suffered one of the biggest data breaches in history, exposing more than 500 million user data in 2014. The data exposure included names, passwords, and answers to security questions. It was later discovered that Yahoo had an earlier breach in 2013 that affected more than 1 billion users. Worse, Yahoo did not report this cybercrime until 2016 and 2017. The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Yahoo 35 million USD for misleading investors and not disclosing the breach on time.
In April 2015, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) discovered its system was compromised. The incident has been described as one of the most significant breaches of government data in U.S. history. Based on OPM and interagency team investigation, sensitive information, including Social Security Numbers of more than 21.5 million individuals, was stolen. This included data from 19.7 million individuals that applied for background verification. The breach also included 5.6 million fingerprints.
The world's first "ransom worm" (ransom crypto worm), WannaCry, affected 230K Windows-operated computers across 150 countries in 2017. It spread through EternalBlue, an exploit made by NSA. The ransom demand was $300 in Bitcoin cryptocurrency for unlocking WannaCry encrypted files.
In 2017, again, UBER suffered a breach affecting 57 million customers and drivers. The cyber criminals stole more than 50 million users' data, including personal information, emails, and mobile numbers. Data from 7 million drivers were also compromised. Worse, UBER paid the hacker $100,000 to cover the breach.
In 2018, hundreds of thousands of records were breached in a British Airways cyber-attack that came to light 15 months after the incident. Around 500K credit card payments were affected because of the hack. Under GDPR, one has to report a breach within 72 hours. British Airways faces a $230 million fine, about 1.5% of its 2017 revenue, over the breach.
Data breaches can lay dormant for a long time before they see the light of day. That is what happened with Marriott Hotels' case when its Starwood database hacking was known in 2018. Compromised here was data from more than 500 million Marriott guests. The actual hacking happened in 2014. The hotel faces a fine of $123 million for failing to protect customer data.
The elements of cybersecurity are an integral part of effective cybersecurity, and the challenges encompass all the cybersecurity categories. Coordinating all the elements is important for an organization's successful cybersecurity program. You can break down cybersecurity into several elements.
Application Security: Application security or Appsec uses best practices, procedures, software, and hardware techniques to protect computer applications from external threats.
Data or Information Security: Information or data protection is about securing data and privacy compliance and explaining how to be proactive in constructing a security strategy strengthened by best practices.
Network Security: This involves protecting the network from unauthorized user attacks and intrusions.
Endpoint Security: One of the weakest links in a business is remote access. Endpoint security protects remote access to an organization's network. Although it is a necessary part of any business, it is open to data exposure.
Identity Management: This is essentially the process of understanding the access rights that a user has in an organization's network.
Infrastructure Security: No network is set without databases and physical equipment. Protecting these devices is a part of infrastructure security and is equally important.
Cloud Security: Cloud infrastructure plays an important role in every organization today. Protecting data in an online environment is one of the biggest challenges companies face.
Mobile Device Security: Mobile devices are integral to any organization's business dealings. As a result, they involve every type of security challenge themselves.
Business Continuity Planning / Disaster Recovery: Even when there is a security breach or other events like a natural disaster, you must secure data, and business must go on. For this, proper planning is required. Education of end-users is a must. Users may be employees of a company or customers. In both cases, making aware of good practices is a part of cybersecurity.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in cybersecurity is the ever-evolving nature of the risks. Usually, most government sectors and the corporate world focus on cybersecurity within the perimeter of their business and defend against known threats. However, that approach is insufficient today, as cyber threats change at an amazing pace, making it difficult for the organization to keep track of them.
Hence, advisory organizations promote a more adaptive and proactive approach to cybersecurity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued guidelines recommending a shift towards real-time assessment and continuous monitoring, a data-focused approach to security, instead of the traditional perimeter-based model.
There are many benefits to implementing and maintaining cybersecurity practices in your organization. They are:
As said earlier, there are many challenges in keeping up with new technologies and security trends. It is a very dynamic environment, and threat intelligence requires continuous surveillance. Protecting information and other assets from multiple cybersecurity threats is essential. Types of cyber threats include:
Malware: It is a form of malicious software in which you can use any program or file to harm a computer user. Some examples of malware are worms, trojans, spyware, and viruses.
Ransomware: This is also malware. It involves a hacker locking the victim’s computer file system. The user is unable to use the system. Locking the computer is done through encryption; the same is unlocked only if a ransom is given.
Social Engineering: This form of cyber-attack involves human interaction. Here users are tricked into breaking security systems to give away sensitive information, which otherwise is difficult to gather.
Phishing: This is also a form of social engineering where fraudulent text messages or emails are used to trick users and collect sensitive data. These phishing attacks often aim to steal data like credit card pins or login information. The messages sent usually resemble messages from a known or reputable source that are believable.
Spear Phishing: This phishing attack targets specific users, organizations, and businesses.
Insider Threats: These security exposures or breaches are usually caused by humans, such as employees, customers, or contractors. Insider threats may be malicious or negligent in intent.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks: In this kind of cyber-attack, multiple systems are utilized to disrupt the traffic of the targeted system. This includes websites, servers, or other network resources. By flooding the target system with connection requests, messages, and packets, the attacker can crash the system or slow it down, preventing legitimate traffic from using it.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): This is a system hack where the cybercriminal targets, attacks, and infiltrates a network and remains unnoticed for a long time to steal data.
Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks: In this case, cyber attackers intercept and relay information between two parties who believe they are talking to one another. This kind of cyber-attack is also called an eavesdropping attack.
Several factors according to the cost of cyberattacks. These factors can be accredited to poor or lack of focus on good cybersecurity practices. Lack of focus on cybersecurity can cause harm to your organization in several ways, including:
Loss of customer trust, loss of current and future customers to the competition, and negative media coverage
Theft of sensitive information, intellectual property, corporate information, service disruption, and the cost of repairing compromised systems
GDPR and other regulatory laws about data breaches would mean your company could suffer regulatory sanctions or fines because of cyberattacks.
If you are still not worried about the cybersecurity risks in your organization, you should be.
Given the nature of the cybercrimes committed and the complexity of detecting such crimes, it becomes difficult to understand the cost of such security breaches. The reputational damage caused by a small data breach could have a greater impact in the long run for your organization. If anything, customers, too, expect advanced cybersecurity measures from your organization.
Although businesses apply their knowledge and skills to different sectors, tech organizations all have something in common. They operate with leading-edge technology. Maintaining secrecy, innovation, Intellectual Property (IP), and security is mandatory in this industry. Yet managing cybersecurity has become the biggest challenge.
Different companies thrive in their respective sectors. However, just because companies deal with technology does not mean that everyone associated with it will understand the impact of cybersecurity on their organization or how to protect organizational assets.
Cybersecurity is a specialized skill, and there is a shortage of qualified and experienced resources to fill security roles. The (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, November 2019, found that approximately 65% of the organizations felt a shortfall of talented cybersecurity resources.
In smaller companies, the figure is likely on the higher side and compounded by a lack of funds to pay specialists. Moreover, startups and smaller enterprises increasingly use cloud services to meet their IT needs. Flexera's 2021 State of the Cloud Survey mentions that 92% of the respondents use cloud computing; 70% of the SMBs stated that cloud security was a challenge.
Together, with the use of web applications to manage essential IT operations and lack of cybersecurity awareness, the smaller companies are bare to security and privacy issues around data and IP breaches.
Building competitive digital solutions on an ever-evolving global platform means the IT industry is under constant pressure to innovate. It means that, often, technological experiments are themselves untested or immature. These technologies include the Internet of Things, blockchain, virtual reality, and many more, including artificial intelligence. When a new tech hits the market, there is a rush to integrate it into your product to make it stand above the competition. In such cases, IT cybersecurity becomes a secondary thought.
Not only is security given a lower priority, but the IT industry as a whole also suffers from a lot of vulnerabilities. Software solutions developed by IT companies are subject to testing and lifecycle management to ensure their readiness. However, the software lifecycle is not without security risks, and vulnerabilities arise constantly.
As said earlier, the intricacies of data security also grow with evolving technologies. Digitalization and global networks have added to the number of threats possible in most industries. In several sectors, many security threats, like hacking, phishing, malware, and other malicious techniques, have improved over time.
Secret information leakages, disguised emails, monetary gains, spear phishing, work accounts, social media, and employee card details can be easily hacked by cybercriminals. Any form of digital data is always vulnerable to data breaches, with valuable information at the risk of being easily available to unauthorized people through shared networks.
Cybercriminals seek to leverage security loopholes while you are using insecure devices and networks. While working remotely, a personal laptop would not have adequate tools to protect the system from suspicious online activities.
Not all have access to official laptops provided by the company. Desktops usually have firewalls and secure VPNs to protect the system from external cyber-attacks. Even a shared connection can pose a threat if you work remotely.
To stay ahead of the competition, most businesses adopt the latest technology early and use it to communicate and create a competitive edge in the tech world. Social media is a platform for promotional factors and discussing tech issues.
However, when you make a lot of noise, it is not only the good people listening but also the bad ones. Social communities are often just a facade to commit cybercrimes and steal user identities. The targeting can happen on and off a platform by using the brand's name and tricking users into parting with personal identities, including login credentials. A Stratecast survey found that 22% of social media users were victims of cybercrime.
IT companies create valuable Intellectual Property (IP) for multiple sectors. Digital IP, mostly in technical documentation or software code, is shared in digital format, including the cloud. An IP Commission report in the year 2017 found that trade secret breach was 1 to 3 percent of the total U.S. gross domestic product.
Creating assets that contain Digital IP has its challenges. You can steal IP data and use it to start your own tech company. The use of shadow IT makes it more difficult to trace since most of the employees in outsourcing companies use web apps without permission or knowledge of the organization.
In the IT industry, sharing codes and information across outsourced remote teams is essential to keep the water flowing in a flexible environment. Code repositories are also predominantly cloud-based. However, while working on cloud platforms, the IP is open to hostile outsiders and insiders in an equal capacity.
Now that you know the challenges of a cybersecurity system, let us look at the latest techniques and approaches to help you manage the concerns we have mentioned above.
The cybersecurity safety tips to protect sensitive data within your organization and as an individual is as follows:
With data encryption, you use complex mathematical algorithms to encode data. You will need special keys to decode this data. Some unique and powerful encryption algorithms for the protection of data breaches include:
Each encryption format has its specialty and is used to encrypt different data sets.
When systems are not updated in due course, there is a high possibility that they will be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Hence, it is extremely important that every company follow secure coding practices and not dethrone its reputation in unforeseen circumstances. Also, once the security policies are in place, implementing them becomes necessary to make all stakeholders stick to the specified rules.
Some of the common practices to be followed include:
The focus of every company should be on creating secure products for customers and other businesses and protecting their businesses from cyberattacks.
The security of your application depends on its code and architecture. Messy codes are easier to hack. If your application codes have some security issues in business logic, it becomes difficult to detect even with automation tools. Hence, to have an effective cybersecurity protection system for all the company applications, always do code reviews and pair programming.
The technology you choose for your application's safety is also crucial. Use technology stacks that are scalable, fast, versatile, reliable, secure, and well-supported.
Apart from improving automation with algorithms, you can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for the reliability of potential clients. While many financial companies might want to use less personal, sensitive data, hackers always look for loopholes to misuse financial cybersecurity systems to create fake IDs. Hence, AI and ML provide trusted credit estimation of customers and transactions to determine inconsistencies while organizations save on labor costs.
Secure identification and authentication are crucial for all essential and secured applications. You are aware of adaptive authentication and OTP; however, there are other approaches that you can employ:
Role-Based Access Control or RBAC is an authentication approach where you give rights to systems and software based on the user's role. A user's role determines what file access is to be given and where it must be restricted.
We know that malware and cyberattacks can lead to critical data leaks and breaches. However, security breaches can happen because of human errors as well. Sometimes, willful compromises by employees can also lead to data loss. Frequent changing of passwords allows you to prevent data leakage and protect data from unforeseen accidents.
A shorter session lifetime is the session time you can reduce when a user logs in to the system. Reducing session times reduces the chances of malicious third-party access to a running application.
When you start tracking failed sign-in attempts, it becomes easier for you to identify and prevent cyberattacks. Set a maximum limit for sign-in attempts and ask for additional verification if the user crosses the maximum sign-in threshold.
With the help of code obfuscation, you protect your company software from cloning. Otherwise, it is difficult to identify cloned software because it functions the same way as the original software. The difference is that cloned software aims at collecting personal user data.
Code obfuscation analyzes a software source code complex, making it impossible to understand the algorithms and thus preventing reverse engineering.
Tokenization is securing data by converting meaningful data into random tokens or symbols. Tokens reference the actual data; however, you cannot decrypt the actual data with tokens. Instead, you would have to have access to a special database known as a token vault, which stores the relationship between the actual data and the generated token. Tokens are just symbols and nothing more if there is no access to the vault.
This method is very secure for storing and transmitting data. The only thing that you need to take care of is the token vault. You can secure your token vault by encrypting the database.
Although engaging in various tech discussions is important, doing so with foresight is paramount in this industry. It would help to educate your company employees about the social media loopholes. These platforms are places where they should be cautious while discussing the organization and personal information.
You should have a proper media use policy and incorporate it into your overall security policy. Security awareness training will also help your team understand the dangers associated with social engineering and how to protect social media account credentials.
Creating strong passwords and changing them at frequent intervals should be mandatory. Ideally, a good password is 12 to 14 characters long and combines characters, numbers, and symbols. Having strong password hygiene starts with understanding the importance of cybersecurity. Always ensure that employees understand the difference between weak and strong passwords.
Several cybersecurity vendors offer various products and services for a protected cybersecurity network. Common security systems and tools include:
With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), Timus provides you with a network with cohesive and comprehensive security. The dynamic firewall is consolidated with a secure web gateway, anti-malware, zero trust access system, and intrusion prevention. This helps in keeping your network resources safe wherever they are.
Timus’s cybersecurity best practices, expertise, and advanced technologies help you defend against cyber risks, safeguard your business-critical data and applications, and help expedite recovery from data breaches or similar exposures.
We at Timus have a cost-effective, unified platform where state-of-the-art security and exceptional user experience meet contemporary workplaces. We support:
As the digital revolution and hyper-convergence create an inadvertent gateway to cyber risk, attacks, vulnerabilities, and failures, an effective cybersecurity strategy quickly becomes necessary for your business. A good cybersecurity network can help your business reduce risk, financial impact, and reputational damage.
Global security experts at Timus have analyzed and mitigated millions of security threats over the years. Using the latest tools and techniques, we help our clients stay one step ahead of cyber vulnerabilities.
Advanced technologies such as automation, analytics, and AI help us develop and execute a dynamic cyber threat response strategy across organizations. Multi-tenant security solution architecture spreads the cost across a wider user base, delivering new-age, latest security solutions at competitive pricing.
We understand that every company has unique cybersecurity needs that many of our competitors fail to meet fully. Our team has first-hand experience with the challenges that come with rapid growth. That’s why all of our offerings are built with you in mind. As an advanced cybersecurity partner and scout for multi-level security, we’ve helped over 100 companies and can help you too.
Timus is a unified and cost-effective platform where modern workplaces meet advanced security and superior user experience. While Timus reduces cybersecurity costs and risks, it also improves operational efficiency and scalability.
Being a non-hardware SaaS platform, Timus minimizes your CAPEX and evergrowing maintenance cost for on-premise hardware. We protect your business against ransomware, malware, and other threats with our secure web gateway, dynamic firewall, and anti-malware engine.
Secure Internet access: Timus protects your organization’s network against cyberattacks and malicious software. Public internet access is provided from a central point where all applications and users benefit from the security services.
Secure remote work: Timus provides secure remote access features, reducing risks by removing implicit trust. Working from anywhere is possible securely with Timus.
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA): This principle is based on the never trust, always verify motto. Timus grants access to the least privileged principle with the help of highly granular access policies.
AI-driven secure web gateway: Timus’ secure web gateway is based on artificial intelligence and eliminates web-based threats before they arrive at your network. You can easily block users’ access to websites hosting malicious files.
Dynamic Firewall: All you have to do is decide what access privileges are required, and the work is done. Timus’s dynamic firewall handles the rest of the process without overwhelming you with technical details.
The success of cybersecurity lies in finding the sweet spot between “too little” and “too much” security. Cybersecurity is a global priority, with the heightened vulnerability regarding unauthorized access to private data.
As cybercrimes become more organized, they will continuously seek the advantage of human mistakes. Organizations should take action and make advancements in their systems to avoid being vulnerable and exposed since most businesses deal with financial products and a vast amount of sensitive information.
Below are the top predictions that focus on improvisations and the pointers you should consider for reinforcing cybersecurity.
Given the surge in digital transactions and the subsequent rise in ransomware and cyberattacks, cybersecurity is a focus area for investors. Besides security threats, fraud management, KYC, and passwordless security will be the key areas investors will concentrate on in the future.
Cybersecurity is a flourishing segment for both organizations and cybercriminals. Hence, it is important to protect your application and related data with appropriate cybersecurity from the beginning before you become a victim of cybercrime.
Keep in mind the following statistics on cybersecurity, and you will realize how important a cybersecurity checklist is: