We hear more and more about cybersecurity and its importance, but very few of us know why this is the case. Even business owners may wonder exactly how far cybersecurity can stretch – and this isn’t a phenomenon exclusive to companies, either. At an individual level, a healthy attitude towards cybersecurity is a must.
Sadly, we have all heard of cyberattacks, online fraud, scammers and hackers. Often, we’ll hear about the latest incident in the news, which underscores how the threat of cybercrime never really goes away – and how many of us aren’t aware of the best preventative measures until it’s too late.
We live in a world of millions of interconnected devices – at home, at work and at play. Being secure online isn’t quite as simple as you might hope, and that’s not just a result of the rapid pace of evolving technology.
With a strong cybersecurity strategy in place, both businesses and individuals can take huge strides in protecting their livelihoods, reputations and more.
What exactly is cybersecurity?
To understand the importance of cybersecurity, it is first important to fully understand exactly what it entails.
Simply put, cybersecurity is a constantly evolving domain that prioritizes the creation of secure online systems, networks and best practices. This industry also concerns the development of certain tools and improving online policies, all in the name of reducing the risks to both individuals and large companies. Unfortunately, hacking attempts are always likely to evolve alongside new, burgeoning technology – which means ‘keeping up’ is a must.
With technology constantly growing and changing, cybersecurity professionals have to stay on top of new tools, programs and ways to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks from breaching even the most complex of systems and networks. Crucially, at the base level, cybersecurity protects classified information, be it personal, business-related or even at government levels.
The enduring concern with cyberattacks is that individuals, groups, companies and even other governments may try to hack their way into secured systems to gain, change or destroy certain information, whether it’s financial, identity or intellectual property and plans. With the rise of technology and the openness of information sharing growing ever looser, it’s safe to say that those with the intent to do harm will inevitably find the means to do so.
Cybersecurity is a broad umbrella. As well as effectively safeguarding us all from hacking attempts, it also concerns protection against viruses, ransomware and malware. Malicious code can potentially damage even the smallest of enterprises – and yes, again, it is always changing and evolving to outpace protective measures.
That said, ongoing complacency regarding technological security is a big driver for hacks and exploits occurring in the first instance. Millions of people still use insecure passwords and codes – at home and at work – allowing the potential for maliciousness to seep through.
How important is cybersecurity?
In a complex and ever-growing world where the internet connects us all, it would be nice to think that we could safely share our information and head online without being at risk. Sadly, that simply isn’t the world that we live in, meaning private individuals and businesses are continually risking their futures.
One of the scariest aspects of cyberattacks is that we may not even know that they are causing harm to our devices or information. We could have our accounts, personal data or valued business information spied on and even used for months without our knowledge. On multiple occasions, big businesses have confirmed that data leaks have put their customers at risk. It’s a key reason why changing all of your passwords on a regular schedule is an absolute must.
Other malicious elements such as viruses can attack and destroy our software systems within a matter of moments. Ransomware, for example, can go one step further and lock down our vital information until we pay a large sum. This level of attack even brought down the National Health Service in the UK a few years ago – it’s nothing to be toyed with.
Complacency can be fatal when it comes to cybersecurity. Many of us assume that we have protected our information adequately by investing in virus blockers and upgrading our equipment – but the fact is, vigilance is vital.
Even now, technology continues to evolve very quickly. Keeping yourself – and your team, if applicable – up to date with all of the new software changes, regulations and updates can be a huge undertaking for anyone! It’s why investing yourself in more than just the basics of cybersecurity is a must, and why anyone studying for an online master’s in cybersecurity will have an advantageous step forward into many in-house IT roles.
For hackers and code writers, complacency over cybersecurity can be a dream come true. With new systems and standards come new ways of gaining access to your information. Even if you’re using top-of-the-line tech and run a virus scan every other day, there’s more you can do – without us scaremongering – to ensure you’re protected efficiently against invisible menaces.
Both businesses and individuals have immense value to lose. Private information, reputation and money can all disappear in a flash. While technology is a wonderful asset of modern living, it’s also helped to make some of our daily living a little trepidatious!
What cyber threats do businesses face?
Businesses may be less worried about aspects such as identity theft, but that does not mean they don’t have their fair share of data to protect. Many businesses have huge downfalls and can even fold completely from some of the threats they face with cybersecurity loopholes.
For example, common issues for businesses of all sizes include cyber espionage. This could emanate from rival businesses, interested corporations or hackers simply looking to profit off of the ideas of others.
Compromised business email is just as much of an issue as ransomware and malware attacks, DoS (Denial of Service) attacks, ATPs (Advanced Persistent Threats), DDoS (short for Distributed Denial of Service) attacks and general network intrusions. While these terms may sound like jargon, the aim behind them remains simple – to hack, steal and exploit. For example, cyber criminals may be acting for financial gain on the back of a successful business.
Something that many businesses do not even consider but is just as much of a cyber threat are internal data breaches and insider threats. While it may be hard to believe that such attacks could come from within your own company, they are more commonplace than you might think.
Embezzlement, data breaches, hacking accounts and emails, and more are all prevalent issues that companies face from within their own networks. Such attacks may occur out of revenge or malice, or may be purely for financial gain. As long as an employee has access to a company device and clearance, if your company does not have the right security in place, they have access to more information than you might realize.
As you can see, the list of cyber threats that businesses face is pretty extensive! What’s more, the list is only expected to grow. As new systems emerge and technology continues to make life more convenient for employees and customers alike, your business is never truly safe from risk. So, how can keeping up with cybersecurity help to protect your own business from these threats, and what are the overarching benefits?
How can effective cybersecurity protect businesses?
As you may have realized, cyber threats do more than just threaten computer systems for businesses. By extension and direct correlation, these attacks also impact finances, customers’ safety, employee safety, future planning and general corporate health. Reputation, too, is always at risk – how do you effectively inform customers that a lack of commercial cybersecurity has resulted in their data going missing?
Cybersecurity can, first and foremost, protect a business’ data from unauthorized access (e.g., from hackers and individuals who do not have the correct clearance). It can also prevent this kind of data from being lost or deleted without permission. A professional who may be educated in cybersecurity can also implement backup and restore features to ensure bouncing back is always a possibility.
From within and outside of the business, cybersecurity can help to prevent fraud and embezzlement from becoming real threats. An effective plan of action will protect your ideas, plans, projects and general intellectual property to ensure that everything you value and see for your company’s future remains completely private.
Cybersecurity can protect your business from viruses, malware, ransomware, cyber espionage and more. Certain forgotten benefits of cybersecurity include protecting your business’ hardware. You and your employees work tirelessly every day; imagine if your hardware became damaged or began to slow down, potentially grinding everything to a complete halt. This is, as you may imagine, going to be a nightmare from a productivity standpoint.
Letting your client base know that you have a professional cybersecurity plan will let them know that they are safe with you. This kind of customer confidence is priceless and could mean the difference between you gaining and keeping your clients and your closest competitors seizing them on the back foot.
Cybersecurity for business is more than just installing network and device antivirus programs. It’s about working with a qualified professional to ensure plans are fluid and effective in the face of evolving threats. If you are interested in training in cybersecurity, you can take heart in the knowledge that there will always be a need for your skills – and that there will never be a dull day on the job.
What cyber threats do everyday people face?
As individuals, we face more online threats than many of us consider. We have all heard of identity theft, bank fraud and so on, but very few of us actually take the measures to ensure that these things do not happen to us. It is important to remember that these stories are not just cautionary tales and that the threats are real – can you be sure you’re doing enough to safeguard your own data?
Each time you use the internet, you are susceptible to online scams, phishing attacks, data theft, hacking, virus attacks, malware and dangerous transactions. This may all sound scary, but there are reasons why individual cybersecurity is so beneficial from device to device, no matter what you may use them for.
How can personal cybersecurity protect people?
Cybersecurity is just as important to individuals as it is for businesses. Luckily, you do not have to invest as much money into your own protection to be safer online.
For example, a good way of protecting your data is by using strong passwords. Although they can be a pain to remember, the more complicated they are, the more difficult they are to crack! So, try combining capital and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Various browsers such as Google Chrome and Safari let you generate secure passwords from scratch, and you can also save them securely.
Ideally, you should never share your bank information with others online, via the phone, etc. Unless you are absolutely certain that the individual you are communicating with is who they say they are, never give out your personal financial details.
Certain scammers are very skilled in ‘spoofing’ emails and calls to make it seem like you’re being contacted by companies you use. They may even know certain details about you! But, if it is a number or email address that you do not recognize, or if you have even the smallest doubt, contact the companies yourself using numbers and email addresses they have provided on their websites or your bills and ask them directly. They will let you know immediately if you’re being hoaxed.
Something that may seem beneficial but can actually be extremely detrimental to your privacy are shared Wi-Fi hotspots. More and more public areas, stores and businesses have adopted Wi-Fi for everyone who enters their premises to take advantage of. However, hotspots are frequently dangerous – even those that appear secure can be targeted by remote hackers, meaning it’s usually best to stick to your closed-source network at home or by browsing your own private cellular data.
As always, installing a trusted antivirus and anti-malware scanner program is a must-do if you want to protect yourself both at home and on the go. While free protection suites can sometimes work to your advantage, it may be more prudent to invest in a paid model to avail yourself of all the latest state-of-the-art cybersecurity features.
Many people get into cybersecurity careers and transfer their on-the-job training and knowledge into everyday practice. Eye-opening degrees and online courses could help you to understand and better manage threats that would otherwise escape your attention.
How can businesses benefit from tighter cybersecurity?
Although protecting your business from cyber threats may not be as simple as having complicated passwords, there are many things that you can do to protect it!
The best thing that you can do for your business is to hire a professional cybersecurity team. Qualified specialists will start by finding where your business is vulnerable to see where you need immediate care. In some cases, this may require you setting up a whole new IT infrastructure. Cybersecurity specialists will ensure that your team is briefed on exactly what to expect from their new infrastructure, and many will provide an aftercare service to ensure business matters continue to bounce back time and again.
For those looking to study and qualify in cybersecurity, there are few industries and businesses where your skills won’t be useful or transferable. Modern society relies on data protection, and cybersecurity is a standard that’s never going to ‘go out of fashion’!
Cybersecurity cannot be undervalued. Nowadays, with so much of our lives and our businesses ‘taking place’ online, having that kind of protection is simply essential. Businesses of all sizes are forever at risk of cyberattack regardless of the software or systems they use, and while setting up antivirus and anti-malware suites can provide abundant protection from day to day, setting up a sophisticated action plan is a must.
Protecting yourself against cyber warfare may seem simple in and of itself, but as mentioned, the world of hacking and exploitation is ever evolving. This means you can always expect there to be new challenges and potential risks lurking around every corner. By working with a professional cybersecurity specialist, you can ensure that all potential avenues are covered, and that you can safely assure your customers likewise.
The overriding benefits to professional and personal security lie in peace of mind. As ubiquitous as online and hacking threats may be, they are still effectively invisible to the naked eye. This requires a trained expert to tighten up and bolster infrastructure to ensure you can always fight back against the worst-possible-case scenarios.
Cybersecurity is never going to be irrelevant – sadly, online threats will always exist at multiple levels. However, professionals can at least take heart knowing their skills will always be transferable. Don’t risk overlooking the importance of cyber protection.