CyberSecurity: A Detailed Guide on Its Importance, Types and Measures

Bisma Farrukh

August 18, 2022
Updated on August 18, 2022
CyberSecurity: A Detailed Guide on Its Importance, Types and Measures

Just like how our security matters in the real world, our digital safety is of paramount importance. Cybersecurity is the practice of staying safe when connected to the internet and when protecting internet-reliant devices, such as databases, hardware, and even software.

This protection is against hackers and malicious actors. In this day and age, we use the internet on a daily basis, and we do all sorts of things online. We work from home via an internet connection, we shop online, and we even share personal moments with our loved ones. All of this comes under our Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

There’s a cyberattack every 39 seconds, and the victim can be anyone. Just last year (2021), around 1,862 data breach cases were reported, which was the highest ever number of data breaches ever. This is a clear indication that cyberthreats are growing at an exponential pace. Every day millions of cyberattacks are carried out globally and the ones that aren’t prepared for it face a great loss. 

cybersecurity guide
Source: https://map.httpcs.com/

Hackers, malicious third parties, and even general trackers on certain websites may collect user information for a variety of reasons. Most unwanted third parties may sell this information to advertisers, and some hackers may also sell it on the dark web for nefarious reasons. 

Some of this data may also be collected for political reasons, such as by government-sponsored hackers who may wish to further impose embargos and censorship upon activists or whistleblowers. 

The Goal of Cybersecurity

Safety and security is a basic human right. As such, the goal of cybersecurity is to minimize such digital attacks from encroaching the privacy of internet users. Since cyberattacks can be enacted upon all sorts of assets, digital and physical, cybersecurity is a growing concern for any security-conscious internet user.  

According to a report by Accenture that was published in 2019, around 68% of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing. Another thing to notice in their report is that from the year 2018 to 2013, there was an increase in the security breaches by 11 percent. This shows how vulnerable the internet has become because the number of internet users is growing and with that, the threats are also increasing. 

The goal of cybersecurity is to minimize the risks of cyber-threats like data breaches, phishing and hacking, as much as possible. For that to be successful, the masses, especially the large and small ecommerce businesses will have to take cybersecurity very seriously. 

Why is cybersecurity important?

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) includes, but isn’t limited to, your phone number, your email address, your financial information, and all sorts of other personal information that is best kept private.

Since most banking and personal apps require two-factor authentication, if your phone number isn’t in your control, you may face a lot of problems as your phone can be hacked. Your 2FA codes could be stolen from you, and a hacker could have a direct way to hack any account or device that is linked to your number. This could, then, lead to further problems, since our smartphones have a large amount of personal data.

Also, configuring your online data storage properly is also important. Check Point reported that in 2021, personal data of more than 100 million Android users were leaked online due to misconfigured cloud services. 

Additionally, if a cybercriminal or a hacker is able to gain access to your baking credentials, they can not only collect data on your transactions but can also make transactions for themselves. This can usually be done through phishing and malware applications, or even devices that make use of card-skimming software.

All of this, together, can allow a hacker to gain access to not only your personal data but also interfere in your offline life. They can commit identity theft, sell your personal information on the dark web, or even create clone cards which can cause greater loss of your financial assets.

According to PurpleSec, the most reported 5 cyber crimes in 2021 were:

  • Extortion
  • Identity theft
  • Personal data breach
  • Non-payment
  • Phishing attacks

According to a study by Comparitech, Netherlands was the most Cyber-secure country in the world. 

Cybersecurity in countries

Some Key Cybersecurity Facts

  • Around 1.76 billion corporate records were leaked In January 2019.
  • More than 50% of cyber attacks are directed at small businesses.(Cybersecurity Ventures, 2021)
  • 4% of malware sent to small businesses is delivered via email.
  • There were 20 million records breached in March 2021.
  • Identity theft costs Americans $15 billion each year.
  • A business is hit by a ransomware attack every 11 seconds (Arcserve, 2020).

Types of cyberattacks

We already know that cybersecurity measures are always developing, but we must also be mindful of how cyberattacks are also becoming more sophisticated. Here are some types of cyberattacks to keep in mind so that you may best protect yourself against them.

Malware

A screenshot of live malware attacks happening globally. [2:08 pm – 15th August 2022]

Malware is short for Malicious Software, which refers to software or applications that have unwanted features. This may include access to personal or proprietary information, such as user details or passwords, and excessive control permissions, such as those pertaining to internal systems. This may also include invasive advertisements in the form of pop-ups or spam. 

According to a report by Trend Micro published in 2020, there were 15,513 malware files associated with COVID-19 that were discovered in the third-quarter of 2020. And during the same year, around 34% of organizations reported being victims of malware. 

In short, this is software on your device that performs actions you have not consented to. This can include spyware or adware, but also keyloggers which keep track of which keys you’ve pressed on your keyboard to track your data inputs, and also ransomware, which holds your data hostage until you meet the hackers demands. This method is extremely popular for extortion and tracking user activities, which is a serious breach of privacy and safety.

Phishing attacks

A screenshot of live Phishing attacks happening globally. [2:10 pm – 15th August 2022]

Phishing attacks are a little different from malware as they involve trickery that loops the users into revealing confidential information. A hacker or malicious third party may impersonate a bank and contact the user to gain details about their financial log-ins, such as their username or password, 2FA passwords, and other such information.

These types of threats can cause trouble even in the most impressive cybersecurity details are set up, which is why it’s important for users to also remain vigilant about their own personal safety.

In a study published by Verizon in 2020, which focused on around 4000 confirmed breaches, phishing was stated as the second greatest risk. It accounted for almost 33% of data breaches. 

Advanced persistent threats

These types of cyberattacks are the most sophisticated ones. Advanced persistent threats (APT) may first present as a type of malware or virus to get inside a network, but once they have gained access to the inside of the network, they become undetected. This allows them to steal the largest amount of data possible, which it does so quietly and without much disruption so that the cybersecurity defense isn’t alerted to the theft.

During this time, it also tracks the growth of the cybersecurity software so that it can change itself to remain undetected. Due to how detailed and complex these attacks are, they are often conducted on a very large scale, such as by national organizations or by large criminal syndicates who have the financial means to resource this type of technical work. 

In contrast to malware, which targets a wide range of devices and users, APTs are often targeted at a specific, usually singular high-value target. It is for this very reason that they are constantly developing themselves so that they can get past the defenses of a particular, specific organization.

Cyber-Attack Statistics

According to a report by BakerHostetler, the following cybercrimes are most faced by the US companies: 


The most targeted industries by Phishing attacks as per the report by APWG:


Here are a few more statistics by Cybertalk.org:

Types of Cybersecurity

As the types of threats to our security grows, so do our defenses. It’s important to know about the different measures of cybersecurity so you can remain vigilant about what best fits your needs.

Application security

This method of security is geared at strengthening an app’s internal defenses in order to minimise and prevent attacks. Most of this is established when the app itself is being built, such as in the initial stages of development. 

However, as technology advances and our apps grow with our needs, these security updates may be distributed to users through patches and updates to give pre-existing defenses a boost.

Because of this, the apps are never 100% perfect or secure, unless the users are keeping up-to-date with all new patches. Cyberthreats tend to evolve and advance quickly so, realistically, it’s never possible to have a foolproof defense mechanism built into the app itself. 

Intrusion detection

Intrusion detection systems (IDS) are built to scan and identify the activities running on a network, just to single out unusual activities which can turn hostile or malicious. This type of software mainly monitors behaviour that seems uncommon from users, and keeps logs of suspicious activities.

Each system has its own special method of functioning to cover all ends. Some raise alarms and some directly respond to attacks, either by isolating or trapping them or by launching a counter-attack. Generally, there are two types of tools that an IDS can use to single out and trap threats: one based on signatures, and another based on anomalies.

Systems that analyse incoming traffic for suspicious activities are network intrusion detections systems (NIDS), and system that monitor confidential files to see if there’s any incoming attack are known as Host-based intrusion detection systems (HIDS). There are also some types of IDS which can do monitor for threats and also come up with a counter-attack if needed, which are called Intrusion prevention systems (IPS).

Data loss prevention

Some methods are geared for limited losses, such as Data loss prevention (DLP) systems which ensure that data can’t be accessed by unauthorised parties. DLP systems also ensure that the data is uploaded in a secure, encrypted manner outside of the company’s servers as well. 

Due to how it most frequently deals with sensitive information, this type of software is highly regulated. It maintains the security of all information whilst acting in compliance with regulatory mandates, such as HIPAA, GDPR, and others. As such, it also serves multiple purposes at the same time: monitoring, controlling, and reporting.

It monitors and controls data streams, incoming and outgoing, to ensure all data is being dealt with security and there aren’t any irregularities in the flow. As it does this, it allso gives reports to confirm compliance with the rules and obligations set up by regulatory bodies. 

Safety Tips and Recommendations

Even as cybersecurity measures are constantly being developed by our favourite softwares and applications, internet users must continue to remain vigilant. Here are our recommendations and tips to maintain your personal bubble of cybersecurity:

1. Use a VPN

Public networks, such as those in cafes or in the office, may seem generally secure but they are very prone to attacks by malicious third parties. Always connect to a premium VPN, such as Astrill, to ensure that all of your data remains safe under layers of encryption. 

A VPN encrypts your traffic and passes it through a secure tunnel, making you safe and secure over the web. Also, it changes your IP and DNS, so that you can enjoy true privacy by staying anonymous over the web, stay safe from being tracked and have your online privacy intact and secure. 

There are certain pros and cons of VPN, but in general, a VPN is the best option you have for protecting your digital privacy and your data. You can install a VPN on any device and secure your information easily. 

2. Remain updated with all devices

Make sure all of your devices are kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates to its operating software. It is also good practice to update all applications and software as well, to minimize vulnerabilities. 

It has been reported that In 2018, one out of every 36 smartphones contained high-risk applications. This number would have definitely increased by now and this means that it can happen to any of us, if we do not take the necessary measures. 

3. Don’t click on suspicious links

Most phishing attacks are done through direct means of contact, such as emails and messages. It’s best to use antivirus software or to personally check the authenticity of the content that is being sent to you. It’s always in your best interest to not directly click any random link that you find in your inbox.

4. Create strong, unique passwords

Along with using Two-Factor Authentication, it’s best to make complicated passwords. The strongest passwords contain no references to your personal life, such as your name or your birthday, and are often long with many special characters. Make sure that your password is something that is not only secure but also hard to guess for someone who may know you personally.

Consider using a password manager to store all of your passwords. Some types also come with password generators, which take away all of the work of coming up with a clever password.

Along with all of these tips, it’s best to keep a safety-conscious point of view when surfing online. Cyberattacks are growing more advanced with each day, and when cybersecurity protocols may appear to be lacking, the users themselves can take charge and protect themselves.

Make sure to always be mindful of the content you post, and ensure that you don’t share anything that is personally identifiable on a public platform, or over an unencrypted connection. 

Conclusion

Businesses need to improve their cybersecurity structures to avoid being compromised as the cyber-threats and thefts of personal information are on the rise. A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that addresses coverage of data, systems, network, and information security rules, including social engineering considerations, is essential. 

Understanding the threats to which you are most vulnerable as an individual or company is equally crucial. You will be able to concentrate your preventative efforts on the most crucial aspects and better equip yourself if you do this.

Author: Bisma Farrukh

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