What is Cyber Security and its advantages and disadvantages of Cyber Security
With the advent of technology, our lives have transformed for the better. From ecommerce to banking, the virtual world is teeming with opportunities. Every organization worth its salt is expanding its activities online and thereby being able to cater to a greater audience. Streaming services too have been able to capture the imagination of its audience. Online movie libraries have become a rage and so has live streaming services which play events in real time and at low subscription prices. The internet combined with the ubiquitous smartphone has revolutionized society forever. But lurking in the dark, lies untold dangers that threaten the existence of this phenomenon.
What is Cyber Security?
Cyber security or also termed as Information Security is the practice of ensuring the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA) of information while being in the process of being transferred between the sender and recipient/s or while in storage or archive. It is a set of rules and regulations that guide Information Security Teams to prevent and manage threats as ad when they appear. Cyber Security is a combination of tools, risk management methodologies, technologies and best practices that acts as an enabler for organizations. This combination works in tandem to protect networks, individual accounts, protocols, software, hardware and data from illegal intrusion and theft. The subject of cyber security is an evolving one since the threats that emanate from the virtual world are also evolving. With the increasing sophistry of attacks, cyber security too is improving, though there will always be a newer lacunae and gap due to rapid advancement of technology.
It is imperative for organizations to invest in cyber security since their entire existence depends on it. IT Legal framework across countries have mandated companies to be vigilant against illegal theft of personal data and information. Such actions often lead to costly lawsuits and penal action against the institution.
Importance of Cyber Security
In a world that runs on data, it is pertinent that data is not only handled well but protected too. Hackers are after data since it fetches some of the highest prices in the black market. They attack systems and networks in various ways to get hold of the information. There are numerous ways in which information can be got hold of.
Man in the Middle
This is the most common method used by hackers. It is a combination of technical sophistication and social engineering and is generally aimed at employees. The sole aim of phishing attacks is to gain personal information and use it either blackmail the person or the organization or sell it to the highest bidder. Phishing is also done through impersonation. Fake websites of popular organizations, with spurious links are used to attract unsuspecting individuals. They then use their financial credentials to donate or even log in to the websites using their log in credentials. These information and keystrokes are recorded by the hackers and misused later. There has been an increase in phishing incidents during the pandemic because of the larger number of users working from home.
Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS is aimed at causing costly disruptions of any organization or even countries. Hackers aim at closing or shutting down servers by flooding it with innumerable requests constantly. To obfuscate the attack, many machines are used, and investigators find it difficult to track the real attacker. DDoS attacks also use malware to infect machine which are then used as attacking nodes. However, the difference between DDoS and other forms of attacks is that no data is stolen out here. It is only used to cause chaos and confusion amongst the target community. DDoS is also used as a distraction so that stealing of data can happen in someplace else.
Another form of phishing where the attacker disguises as a contact person from organizations the victim might know. Hence, it can be from the bank, the insurance company or the car rental company. Assailants use bogus credentials to attract the victim and then after gaining their confidence, pull out personal information. Usage of SMSes and fake voice messages are also prevalent.
A common method to extract information from networks illegally is by planting malware. A malware is a malicious code that can destroy entire networks. A malware has numerous uses. It can be planted within a network and made to record all the information that passes through it. Effective malwares stay in networks for long before information and cyber security teams can locate and eradicate them. Effective malwares imitate legitimate codes and mimic their activities thereby creating a smokescreen.
Man in the Middle
Another method of stealing data is by eves dropping information while it is in transit. Hence any transfer happening between the client and the server is vulnerable to such events. Man in the middle attacks also appear in the form of hacking of chats. Unknown individuals often appear in group chats and eves drop on the conversation.
Password cracking by hacker groups is a common way to gain unauthorised entry into networks. Password cracking tools and software methodologies are used to overcome network security. Password attacks are a common way by con artists to steal information from individuals and organisations. However, they are always not reliable and often take a lot of time.
A spyware is a type of malware that is used to spy on the activities of targeted systems. Keyloggers is a type of spyware that is used by hackers to save keystrokes. This information is then used to gain illegal entry into systems and networks. Spyware is a dangerous software that allows hackers to gain full control of the victim’s system.
This is, as the name suggests, is a method which the hackers use to overpower the entire network. Once that is done, the hacker will enter the network and take full control of it. Brute force attacks use every possible method to achieve its target. A correct access key is found after all the methods are used. The flipside of this method is that it is not the most efficient one. Often the target party gets to know about the attack and takes cognizance of it. Sufficient steps are taken to prevent any further damage. There are certain circumstances under which the attacks may be successful.
Given the various methods that hackers use to gain illegal entry into networks and steal data, cyber security is an important investment for every organization and individual.
Volume of spear phishing attacks faced by organizations according to IT professionals worldwide in 2020
Online industries most targeted by phishing attacks as of 1st Quarter 2021
The above graphs illustrate the fact that most companies have faced some form of phishing attacks. With increased reliance of the virtual world, this number is bound to grow.
Advantages and disadvantages of Cyber Security
Cyber security has numerous benefits and given the current dependence society has on technology, a must have too. However, it also does have certain disadvantages which we will have a quick look at.
The main aim of cyber security is to protect the network and the personal information of the individual and the organisation. It is vital, both from the personal safety as well as legal and financial point of view. Every country has a legal framework in place which suggests that in the event there is a loss of data, the incumbent organisation will be answerable for it. Loss of data is also a loss of reputation for the organisation. Its clients will lose confidence in doing business with them which will have a grave financial implication. To overcome this, cyber security is taken with due seriousness.
It is always less costly to prevent than to cover up later. The biggest advantage that cyber security provides to its users is cost effectiveness. Cyber security tolls and risk management do not cost a bomb. However, the resultant financial loss, legal hassles and reputational hock will be hard to overcome and will end up costing more.
A great cyber security protection plan or team enhances the reputation of the organisation. Consumers will be confident of doing business with an entity which takes gives due importance to their data. This results in greater business scope.
Enhancement of technology
Cyber security is not a technology that works in a silo. It is a holistic approach and involves all the departments and stakeholders of an organisation. From email management and protection to cyber security awareness training, state of the art software and hardware enhancement to better coordination between departments, the overall improvement will be palpable. This also increases the collective productivity of the organisation.
Cyber security is an evolving concept. The reason being security is evolving. With changes occurring in technologies overnight, entire aspects of cyber security changes too. It is therefore extremely difficult to maintain a single protection barrier for longer period.
An increasing difficulty in the field of cyber security is the adaptability of teams to adopt the ever-changing technology. It takes time for the human mind to understand the threat that is being thrust upon them. Tech adoption across the board is a time-consuming affair and expecting things to change overnight is fraught with danger.
While the initial cost of implementing cyber security management plans may not be costly, over a period, it sure does. One of the reasons why most companies have the inclination to continue with legacy software and hardware is the cost. Replacing the entire set up is not just time consuming and resource intensive but inherently costly too. The evolving nature of the threats also add to the overall expenses. Cyber security by nature is not a one-horse show, whereby a single solution fits all problems. There are customised solutions for precise challenges and these instances may run into hundreds.
This is the biggest roadblock when it comes cyber security. The strongest barrier against external threats is also the weakest link. Employees of every organisation is the asset that the entity uses to further its cause. However, most phishing activities are targeted against the same employees, who unknowingly become a pawn in the hands of the hackers. Cyber security awareness is a must, and every organisation has training sessions for their employees. These awareness sessions are designed in a manner to impart the latest information pertaining to the virtual world. Employees are made to understand the new standards of security and the kinds of threats that are currently present. These training sessions must be regularly imparted to keep everyone abreast with the evolution of threats. While such awareness plans are immensely helpful and is vital for the functioning of the organisation, they are resource intensive and cost a lot of money too.
Hardware and Software Anomalies
This aspect is often overlooked but in the zeal of upgrading systems, many a times, cyber security teams end up having systems which are incompatible to each other. It is more frequent than thought of. Firewall rules differ for disparate systems and authorised personnel cannot access the network in such cases. The resultant is another round of upgradation and stabilisation of the system. Moreover, putting all these systems in their rightful places is costly and time consuming too. To overcome such challenges a lot of deft planning is required.
Lack of Numbers
Another major roadblock plaguing cyber security is the lack of the cyber security professionals. There is not much supply to handle the increasing demand of professionals. Recent studies suggest that almost two million vacancies are yet to be filled and this number is gradually reaching astronomical portions. Due to this, cyber security responsibilities are getting hit and the professionals who are manning such posts are overburdened. To overcome this, Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence are playing important parts. However, no matter how smart a system be, it cannot counter the intuitiveness of the human brain, nor can it replicate it.
Cyber security is a necessity domain that is being invested in heavily across the world. With the ever-dynamic virtual threat that springs a surprise every now and then, it is imperative that information security is not taken lightly. Like all great things, there are challenges o the way but with proper planning and forecasting, they would too be won over.
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