What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from digital attacks, theft, and damage. It involves implementing measures to prevent unauthorized access to information, as well as detecting and responding to security threats.
Cybersecurity is important because it helps protect organizations and individuals from cyber threats such as malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks, which can compromise sensitive information, disrupt critical infrastructure, and cause financial damage. It also helps to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and systems.
There are many different aspects of cybersecurity, including network security, application security, cloud security, and endpoint security. Organizations and individuals can implement a variety of cybersecurity measures to protect against cyber threats, including firewalls, antivirus software, encryption, and user authentication.
This is part of an extensive series of guides about hacking.
In this article
Types of Cybersecurity Threats
Here are some of the more common types of cybersecurity threats facing organizations today.
Malware, short for malicious software, is any software designed to harm or exploit a computer system. Examples of malware include viruses, worms, and Trojans. Malware can infect a computer through various means, such as being downloaded from the internet, being bundled with legitimate software, or being delivered through a phishing attack.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files; the attackers then demand a ransom from the victim to restore access to the files. Ransomware attacks can be particularly destructive because they can prevent organizations from accessing critical data and systems, leading to significant disruptions and financial losses.
Phishing and Email Spoofing
Phishing is a type of cyber attack that involves tricking people into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial data, by pretending to be a legitimate entity. Phishing attacks often use email or social media to lure victims into clicking on malicious links or downloading malware.
Email spoofing is a type of cyber attack in which the attacker forges the sender’s address in an email. The goal is to trick the recipient into thinking the email is from a legitimate source, so they will open it and possibly divulge sensitive information or click on a malicious link.
Man in the Middle Attack
A man in the middle (MitM) attack is a type of cyber attack where the attacker intercepts communications between two parties and manipulates them to their advantage. For example, an MITM attacker could intercept an online banking transaction and alter the account numbers or amounts being transferred.
Denial of Service Attack
A denial of service (DoS) attack is a type of cyber attack that aims to make a computer or network resource unavailable to its intended users. DoS attacks can be launched using a variety of techniques, such as flooding a server with traffic or exploiting vulnerabilities in a system’s software or hardware.
SQL injection is a type of cyber attack that involves inserting malicious code into a database using SQL (Structured Query Language). The goal is to gain access to sensitive information or to manipulate data in the database.
A Domain Name System (DNS) attack is a type of cyber attack that targets the infrastructure that makes the Internet work. DNS attacks can be used to redirect internet traffic to malicious websites, disrupt access to legitimate websites, or steal sensitive information.
Advanced Persistent Threats
An advanced persistent threat (APT) is a type of cyber attack that is carried out by a skilled and well-funded adversary. APTs are designed to infiltrate an organization’s systems and remain undetected for an extended period of time, often for the purpose of stealing sensitive data or disrupting operations.
Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone’s computer or device to mine cryptocurrency. Cryptojacking can be done through the use of malware or by tricking users into visiting a malicious website. It can slow down a device and use up a significant amount of its resources, potentially causing damage.
Account takeover is a type of cyber attack where the attacker gains access to someone’s online account and uses it to steal sensitive information or commit other malicious activities. Account takeovers can be carried out through various means, such as phishing attacks, malware, or the use of stolen login credentials.
Cybersecurity Technologies and Tools
Here are some of the tools used by modern security teams to defend their organizations against cyber threats.
Advanced Threat Protection
Advanced threat protection (ATP) is a type of cybersecurity technology that helps organizations to detect and respond to advanced cyber threats. ATP uses a variety of techniques, such as machine learning and behavioral analysis, to identify unusual activity and potential threats.
Threat intelligence is information about current and emerging cyber threats that is used to help organizations protect against attacks. Threat intelligence can include information about specific threats, such as malware variants or phishing campaigns, as well as insights into the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by attackers.
Content Disarm and Reconstruction (CDR)
Content Disarm and Reconstruction (CDR) is a type of cybersecurity technology that helps to protect against malicious content. It works by analyzing incoming files, such as emails and attachments, and stripping out any malicious elements while preserving the original content. This helps to prevent attacks that use malicious files as a means of infection.
Web filtering software is a type of cybersecurity technology that helps organizations to control access to Internet content. It works by analyzing incoming web traffic and blocking access to websites or content that is deemed inappropriate or malicious. Web filtering software can be used to protect against a variety of threats, such as malware, phishing attacks, and inappropriate content.
Next-generation antivirus (NGAV) is a type of cybersecurity technology that provides advanced protection against malware and other cyber threats. NGAV uses a variety of techniques, such as machine learning and behavior-based analysis, to detect and block threats that traditional antivirus software may miss.
A next-generation firewall (NGFW) is a type of cybersecurity technology that provides advanced protection for an organization’s network. NGFWs use a variety of techniques, such as stateful inspection and application-level control, to identify and block threats that traditional firewalls may miss.
Extended Detection and Response (XDR) is a type of cybersecurity technology that helps organizations to detect and respond to cyber threats in real-time. XDR combines multiple security technologies, such as endpoint protection, network security, and threat intelligence, to provide a comprehensive view of an organization’s security posture.
Cybersecurity Strategies and Best Practices
Practicing Penetration Testing
Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is a cybersecurity best practice that involves simulating a cyber attack on a computer system, network, or web application to identify vulnerabilities and assess the effectiveness of an organization’s security controls.
Penetration testing can be conducted in a variety of ways, including manual testing, automated testing, and hybrid testing. It can be performed by an internal team or by an external vendor with specialized expertise.
Penetration testing is an important prevention best practice because it helps organizations to identify and fix vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers. By simulating an attack, organizations can gain a better understanding of their security weaknesses and take steps to address them.
Penetration testing is typically done on a regular basis, such as annually or quarterly, to ensure that an organization’s security controls are up to date and effective. It can also be done on an ad-hoc basis, such as when an organization makes significant changes to its infrastructure or applications.
Create a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program
Creating a cybersecurity awareness training program is a best practice for preventing cyber attacks because it helps to educate employees and other users about the importance of cybersecurity and how to identify and prevent threats.
A cybersecurity awareness training program should cover a range of topics, including:
- The types of cyber threats that employees and users may encounter, such as malware, phishing attacks, and social engineering.
- Best practices for creating strong passwords and protecting them.
- How to recognize and avoid suspicious emails and websites.
- The importance of keeping software and systems up to date with the latest patches and updates.
- How to report suspected security incidents or breaches.
A cybersecurity awareness training program should be tailored to the specific needs and risks of an organization, and should be delivered in a way that is engaging and relevant to the audience. It can be delivered through a variety of means, such as in-person training, online courses, or interactive workshops.
It is important to periodically refresh and update the training program to ensure that employees and users are aware of the latest threats and best practices. Regular training can help to create a culture of cybersecurity within an organization and reduce the risk of successful cyber attacks.
Learn more in our detailed guide to cyber security strategy
Addressing OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities
The OWASP Top 10 is a list of the most common and most critical web application security risks. By addressing these vulnerabilities, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of a successful cyber attack.
To address these vulnerabilities, organizations can implement a variety of measures, such as implementing input validation, using secure authentication and session management controls, and regularly updating and patching software and components. Regular testing and monitoring can also help to identify and address these vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers.
It is important for organizations to regularly review and update their security controls to ensure that they are effectively addressing the OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities and other potential risks. This can help to protect against a wide range of threats, including injection attacks, cross-site scripting (XSS), security misconfiguration, and sensitive data exposure.
Using CVE, CWE, and CCE Data
The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project is a cybersecurity initiative that aims to provide a standard way to identify and describe vulnerabilities in software and systems. It is maintained by the MITRE Corporation and is sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security.
The CVE project provides a list of known vulnerabilities in software and systems. The information is updated on a regular basis and includes detailed data about each vulnerability, such as its severity, impact, and any available mitigations.
The CVE project also includes the Common Configuration Enumeration (CCE) and Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) systems, which are standardized methods for identifying and describing system configuration issues and software weaknesses, respectively.
The goal of the CVE project is to improve the transparency and accountability of the cybersecurity industry by providing a common, standardized way to identify and describe vulnerabilities. It is widely used by cybersecurity professionals, researchers, and organizations to help protect against cyber threats.
Monitoring Third-party Access to Your Data
Monitoring third-party access to your data is a best practice for preventing cybersecurity attacks because it helps to ensure that only authorized parties have access to sensitive information. By monitoring third-party access, organizations can detect and prevent unauthorized access or misuse of their data.
To implement this best practice, organizations can implement controls and procedures to monitor and track access to their data by third parties. This can include measures such as:
- Conducting regular audits and reviews of third-party access to data.
- Establishing and enforcing policies and procedures for granting and revoking access to data by third parties.
- Monitoring access activity and identifying unusual or suspicious activity.
- Implementing security measures, such as encryption and access controls, to protect data from unauthorized access.
Organizations should also carefully evaluate the security practices of third parties that have access to their data and ensure that they have appropriate safeguards in place to protect against unauthorized access or misuse. This may include requiring third parties to implement specific security measures or signing contracts that outline the terms and conditions of data access.
See Our Additional Guides on Key Hacking Topics
Together with our content partners, we have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of hacking
- Web Gateway Security: Applying Zero Trust to Web Traffic
- Understanding Virtual Browsers: Concepts and Use Cases
- How to Choose an Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP)
- Understanding Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
- Third Party Access: Considerations and Security Risks
- 7 Ways to Prevent Phishing & Advanced Anti-Phishing Techniques
- What is Spear Phishing?
- Types of Phishing Attacks