Cybersecurity Fundamentals: What you need to be aware of right now

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Cybersecurity at a global level

Trying to get your head around the complexities of cybersecurity can be quite an undertaking. Not only do you have to contend with a whole range of technical terms and phrases, but you also have to react to an ever-changing threat environment. 

Whether you’re a concerned business owner, or a casual internet user looking for more online protection, we believe it never hurts to get a refresher on the fundamentals and how the security landscape is developing today.

Let’s Make Cybersecurity Simpler

In order to understand what is cybersecurity, you first need to know the concept of the CIA triad, and no, we’re not talking about the intelligence agency here, but the fundamental principles that sit behind all cybersecurity concepts. These are:

  • C – Confidentiality – Whether you’re protecting customer data or your own personal information, all online interactions should start with confidentiality in mind
  • I – Integrity – This principle ensures that any data you hold is accurate and safe from unauthorized modification
  • A – Availability – This concept outlines how data will be accessed and by whom. In addition, it determines the location the data is held and in what format it can be viewed

Once you understand this foundation, it’s easier to grasp the remaining fundamentals, recognize threats, and focus your attention on the areas that need it most.

Identify Your Key Vulnerabilities

Next, you’ll need to know your vulnerabilities. For as long as humans have protected valuables, there have been those looking to steal them. Some key trends at the moment include:

  • Unpatched software and out of support systems – This is still one of the most common attacks people fall victim to. Those that haven’t applied the latest security updates are at risk of attack through malware that exploits holes in security. One well-known example is Adobe withdrawing support for Flash Player at the end of 2020. Those who still haven’t removed the program remain at risk
  • Password review – You should never use default passwords and always ensure that they meet minimum complexity requirements. This is particularly important at the moment if you have any staff working remotely. Check the applications they have on their devices and try to use software that will enforce a password protocol
  • Manage your access – This should always be done on a privileged principle. No-one should have access to data without proper permissions, and user roles need to be clearly defined and enforced

Know What Type of Attacks to Expect

The mass adoption of home and remote working practices, a proliferation of mobile devices, and a general public unfamiliar with newer types of attack have all led to a perfect storm of cybersecurity incidents. 

2020 saw a massive increase in the rate and sophistication of attacks, and the trend only looks set to continue in the near future with small and medium-sized companies most at risk. Make sure you keep an eye out for:

  • An explosion of phishing scams – Malware and ransomware delivered via email remains the most common type of hack. Criminals are becoming increasingly savvy and are starting to create very convincing email incursions. Some may even pretend to be from staff in your own company to add an extra layer of authenticity
  • Drive-by attacks – With more companies seeing an expanded online presence these days we’re finding a corresponding growth of this type of incident. Hackers will plant malicious code in unsecured websites that go on to infect every user that lands on that page. Make sure your site security is up to date
  • Brute force attacks – In this type of hack, the malicious party will use software to try millions of potential password combinations and gain access to systems and data. These tools are becoming more advanced and are easy for hackers to get their hands on. Protect your data with complex passwords and lockout protocols after a certain number of failed attempts

Make sure to keep up to date with the latest goings-on in the cybersecurity world too. It might be worth signing up for technical journals or even just following some popular accounts on social media to stay abreast of the latest hacks.

Have a Response Plan in Place

Don’t think you can’t fall victim to a cyber attack. There are countless examples of major corporations, government agencies, and individual users that have all lost out to hackers. This is why it’s vital you have backup plans in place. This usually means storing your data in a secondary cloud environment to fall back on should your front-line services become compromised.

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