What Is Cybersecurity? Learn About the 6 Most Effective Cybersecurity Prevention Measures
In this article
By 2025, the world will have almost 39 billion devices connected to the internet, with cybersecurity attacks happening every 39 seconds. This has huge implications for how we lead our daily lives. For example, Garmin, a multinational GPS navigation firm, suffered a ransomware attack in 2020 that shut down global production and even affected the navigation ability of airplane pilots.
Cyber attacks also hugely damage businesses and jobs, with a data breach at Facebook in April 2021 costing an estimated $3.7 billion and exposing 533 million records. Hackers are getting smarter as well, turning to artificial intelligence, resorting to data manipulation instead of a threat, and leveraging the vulnerabilities in the world’s 8 billion Internet of Things devices.
The growing number of cyber attacks (116 million records reached in May 2021) presents a need for more robust security, in order to protect customer data, preserve business reputation, and prevent costly leaks.
10 Types of Cyber Attacks
Cyber attacks are launched from one computer to another with malicious intent. Below are 10 common types of cyber attacks.
- Ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malware in which the perpetrators threaten to leak sensitive information or prevent system access until they are paid a certain sum financially.
- Phishing. In phishing attacks, victims receive alluring clickbait emails, telephone or text messages which try to convince them to reveal proprietary information.
- Man-in-the-Middle attack. This occurs when an actor intercepts and modifies an information exchange.
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. DDoS attacks happen when the enemy floods a server with unwanted traffic that impairs activity and causes a crash.
- SQL injection. This involves using a sequenced query language (SQL) to solicit unauthorized information from a server.
- DNS tunneling. Domain Name Systems (DNS) turn legible URLS into number-based ones that can be used by machines. Hackers exploit DNS tunneling to avoid firewalls and funnel queries to malware.
- Password attack. Hackers employ a variety of techniques to try to steal passwords, ranging from keylogging (trying to track keystrokes) to credential stuffing (attempting many commonly used passwords).
- Zero-day exploit. These are attacks that happen very quickly due to a software or hardware flaw before engineers have yet to fix.
- Data breach. In a data breach, information is stolen in one of several ways: hacking, malware, physical theft, unauthorized use, malware, human error, or social engineering. This is a popular way to collect credit card information and commit fraud.
- Drive-by attack. In drive-by attacks, website browsers download malware-infested or fake software, often without consent after clicking on a faulty URL.
What Is Cybersecurity and What Are the Benefits of Cybersecurity?
Cyber attacks target companies of all sizes, and 68% of small businesses have experienced cyber attacks in the last 12 months. Companies currently spend between 5% to 20% of their IT budget on cybersecurity on cybersecurity for the following reasons:
- Cybersecurity protects sensitive and personal information from being stolen or leaked
- Cybersecurity builds customer trust and prevents attacks that destroy public reputation
- Cybersecurity keeps computer systems up and running and prevents website crashes
- Cybersecurity saves costs from potential attacks and viruses
The costs of a data breach can be significant. IBM’s 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report puts the average cost of a data breach at $3.9 million, which can include:
- Direct costs like theft, system repair, legal fees, public relations, insurance premium
- Indirect costs like customer trust damage, loss of revenue, downtime for business operations, brand devaluation
6 Common Types of Cybersecurity Measures and How They Work
Here are 6 common types of cybersecurity measures and the assets they protect:
- Critical infrastructure security. Protection of electricity grids, water purification, medical centers and hospitals, and technology.
- Equipment application security. Logging and testing around antivirus software, firewalls, encryption, two-factor authentication, and authorization, etc.
- Network security. All-access control, including logins, passwords, email security, virtual private networks (VPN), and network segmentation.
- Cloud security. Cloud security oversees public cloud services, such as software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and private cloud services, and ensures compliance with legislation like Health Information Privacy Act (HIPAA)
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Within the cloud, companies need to also secure Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to prevent data loss through strategies like API gateways, quotas, tokens, encryption, and signatures.
- Internet of things security. Safe monitoring of interconnected appliances, televisions, cameras, sensors, and other devices (mobile devices, tablets, and laptops)
What Are the Challenges of Cybersecurity?
Although more companies recognize the need to build cybersecurity capacity, it is definitely not easy. There are many challenges in our increasingly digital age.
- Rising costs
The cost and prevalence of cyber attacks are only going up. With artificial intelligence, companies are predicted to spend $2.5 billion to ward off cyberattacks between 2016 and 2025. Ransomware is also growing in prevalence, with attack numbers growing 150% in 2020 and average payouts rising to $300,000.
- Difficulty tracking cyber criminals
It is extremely hard to find and punish cyber criminals. Through proxies, attackers can easily spoof the source field of their Internet Protocol (IP) address to make it seem like cyber threats are coming from elsewhere.
- More complexity
Artificial intelligence and machine learning give hackers new ways to break into systems. In addition, 5G technology is more vulnerable to exploitation by moving more physical tasks to a distributed, software-based environment. More apps and devices use Internet of Things (IOT), which are uniquely vulnerable to botnets, DDoS attacks, and ransomware due to the interconnected nature of devices.
One example of these complications is biometric authentication, which uses fingerprint scanning and voice / facial recognition, instead of passwords to log in. When this information is stolen, it cannot be changed and risks compromising entire identities.
Cybersecurity Career Prospects
In order to improve cybersecurity, organizations will need to continuously invest in their employees.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 37% cybersecurity job growth rate from 2012-2022. A Knowledge@Wharton article stated, “Nowhere is the workforce-skills gap more pronounced than in cybersecurity,” where an estimated 3.5 million jobs remain unfulfilled.
Popular cybersecurity job titles today include:
- Information Security Analysts. Information Security Analysts (ISAs) protect computer systems and networks through software installation and implementation of security protocols. ISAs need IT knowledge, strong analytical thinking, and some experience with cybersecurity tools, like web vulnerability scanning, network intrusion detection (IDS), and network security monitoring tools.
- Security Engineer. Security engineers institute breach detection systems, test for system vulnerabilities, maintain security systems, investigate persistent threats, and prevent breaches. They need skills in ethical hacking, computer operating systems and network architecture, programming, and computer forensics.
- Penetration Tester. Penetration testers hack computer systems and networks to discover vulnerabilities before criminals can install malicious software. This requires scripting or coding skills, a deep understanding of diverse vulnerabilities, the ability to write concise reports, and experience with computer and *nix systems.
Is cybersecurity the right career for you?
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the cybersecurity industry is expected to have 3.5 million high-paying, unfilled jobs this year. With Springboard’s comprehensive Cyber Security Career Track, you’ll work 1:1 with an industry mentor to learn key aspects of information technology, security software, security auditing, and finding and fixing malicious code. Learning units include subject-expert approved resources, application-based mini-projects, hands-on labs, and career-search-related coursework.
The course will culminate in a multi-part capstone project that you can highlight on your resume for prospective employers or use to demonstrate your technical knowledge in your job interview. The learning materials will also help prepare you to pass the globally-recognized CompTIA Security+ certification so you stand out when applying for cybersecurity roles.
Learn more about Springboard’s Cyber Security Career Track here.