[Table of Contents]
What is cybersecurity?
Why is cybersecurity important?
How does cybersecurity affect me?
Cybersecurity 101 – Topics
Internet / Cloud / Network security
IoT & Household Security
Spam, Social Engineering & Phishing
How to protect yourself online & offline
[Quick Glossary / Definitions]*
|Cybersecurity: “measures taken to protect a computer or computer system (as on the Internet) against unauthorized access or attack”
Phishing: “a scam by which an Internet user is duped (as by a deceptive e-mail message) into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly”
Denial-of-service attack (DDoS): “a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to the Internet”
Social Engineering: “the psychological manipulation of people, causing them to perform actions or divulge confidential information to malicious perpetrators”
Open-source intelligence (OSINT): “data collected from publicly available sources to be used in an intelligence context, such as an investigation or analysis of a particular subject”
With the rapid growth of computer technology throughout the past few decades, many people have started to worry about the online security and safety of the internet as a whole. In particular, users generally find it difficult to keep track of their digital footprint at all times, and people often don’t realize and aren’t always aware of the potential dangers of the internet.
Cybersecurity is a field of computer science focused on protecting computers, users, and the internet from potential security dangers that could pose as a threat to user data and system integrity when taken advantage of by malicious actors online. Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field, both in importance and the number of jobs, and continues to be a crucial field for the foreseeable future of the internet and the digital era.
Why is Cybersecurity Important?
In 2019, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), roughly half of the world population of 7.75 billion people used the internet.
That’s right — an estimated figure of 4.1 billion people were actively using the internet in their daily lives, whether it be catching up on their favorite movies and TV shows, working for their jobs, engaging in conversations with strangers online, playing their favorite video games & chatting with friends, performing academic research and affairs, or anything else on the internet.
Humans have adapted to a lifestyle extremely involved in online affairs, and there’s no doubt that there are hackers and malicious actors searching for easy prey in the online sea of internet users.
Cybersecurity workers aim to protect the internet from hackers and malicious actors by constantly researching & searching for vulnerabilities in computer systems and software applications, as well as informing software developers and end users about these important security related vulnerabilities, before they get into the hands of malicious actors.
As an end user, the effects of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and attacks can be felt both directly and indirectly.
Phishing attempts and scams are very prominent online, and can easily deceive individuals who may not realize or are aware of such scams and baits. Password and account security also commonly affect end users, leading to problems like identity fraud, bank theft, and other kinds of dangers.
Cybersecurity has the potential to warn end users about these types of situations, and can preemptively stop these types of attacks before they even reach the end user. While these are just a few examples of direct effects of cybersecurity, there are lots of indirect effects as well — for instance, password breaches and company infrastructure problems aren’t necessarily the user’s fault, but can affect the user’s personal information and online presence indirectly.
Cybersecurity aims to prevent these types of problems at an infrastructural and business level, rather than at the user level.
Next, we’ll be taking a look at various cybersecurity related subtopics, and we’ll be explaining why they’re important in relation to end users and the computer systems as a whole.
INTERNET / CLOUD / NETWORK SECURITY
The internet & cloud services are by far the most commonly utilized services online. Password leaks and account takeovers are a daily occurrence, causing tremendous damage to users in forms such as identity theft, bank fraud, and even social media damage. The cloud is no different — attackers can gain access to your personal files and information if they ever gain access to your account, along with your emails and other personal details stored online. Network security breaches don’t affect end users directly, but can cause business and small companies large amounts of damage, including but not limited to database leaks, corporate secret swindling, among other business related issues that could indirectly affect end users like you.
IOT & HOUSEHOLD SECURITY
As households slowly work towards new technologies and innovations, more and more home appliances have started to rely on internal networks (hence the term “Internet of Things”, or IoT), leading to many more vulnerabilities and attack vectors that can help attackers gain access to household appliances, such as home security systems, smart locks, security cameras, smart thermostats, and even printers.
SPAM, SOCIAL ENGINEERING & PHISHING
The introduction of online messaging boards, forums, and social media platforms into the modern internet has consequently brought in large amounts of hate speech, spam, and troll messages into the internet. Looking beyond these harmless messages, more and more instances of social engineering ploys and user phishing have also circulated throughout the world wide web, allowing attackers to target the less aware and vulnerable people of society, resulting in terrible cases of identity theft, money fraud, and general havoc on their profiles online.
In this article, we discussed the basics of cybersecurity, explored many various cybersecurity related subtopics, and looked at how cybersecurity affects us, and what we can do to protect ourselves from different types of cybersecurity threats. I hope you’ve learned something new about cybersecurity after reading this article, and remember to stay safe online!
Infographic provided by intelligence.businessinsider.com