You may have heard about malware, viruses, firewalls, hacking and protecting consumer data. Maybe you’ve have read headlines about HeartBleed, POODLE, ShellShock and other odd names. But what is cyber security as a whole, and what does it have to do with these new stories? What does it mean for us tech users and the world?
Merriam-Webster has a simple cybersecurity definition for us: “Measures taken to protect a computer or computer system (as on the Internet) against unauthorized access or attack.” It’s a very compact and legal definition, and a very, very large umbrella that covers a vast number of different devices and types of danger. Cyber security tries to protect all networks, all programs you use, all software and all data in digital form from improper access, alteration, or destruction. Whew.
The United States federal government has allotted more than $13 billion in a five-year plan to build up its own cyber security. Across the world, companies and families are looking into new ways to protect themselves. There’s also a fair number of cybercriminals looking for new vulnerabilities and developing new ways to attack. In other words, computer security is constantly growing, changing, and responding to the digital world.
A Look At Key Vulnerabilities
As malware grows increasingly sneaky and cybercriminals start looking for the latest weaknesses, new types of attacks will threaten web security. Many of these attacks will target governments and businesses, but keep in mind that hackers are often seeking your personal data for identity theft and similar crimes. Defending against these attacks means more than simply putting up a firewall. Here are several examples of vulnerabilities that systems face.
- Site Interconnections and DDoS: DDoS refers Distributed Denial of Service, a type of attack that invades a particular site then attempts to overwhelm and maliciously block a site. This loses businesses money and could have far more serious results if a government site is attacked. It can also seep out and affect many other sites thanks to the interconnected way that Internet bandwidth operates. In other words, it’s bad news for everyone. Since no data is actually being accessed, this type of attack is often easier to perpetrate than other types of hacking.
- Ongoing Data Storage Concerns: If big tech companies like Sony are vulnerable to data theft – well, this just encourages more cybercriminals to attempt access data from other companies. Expect this to be an ongoing threat, especially with all that credit card and personal identity information waiting in data storage.
- Blog Vulnerabilities: This is a tricky one. Hackers can sometimes access backdoors that are built into faulty or malicious plugins for WordPress and other platforms. Often users have no idea these backdoors are there or how to properly remove them. This allows criminals to hijack and redirect the site, among other ills.
- Wireless Threats: A growing number of security attacks are attempting to snatch data as it crosses key lines during wireless communication. There are several different ways to access data this way, making it challenging to find ideal security solutions.
Awareness in Business
Companies create a lot of code and store a lot of data, making them the frontrunners for both digital threats and computer security. Fortunately, over the past couple of years, companies have become much more aware of the need for cyber security. Large-scale hacks of big brands like Target and Sony, where consumer data is stolen, have increased executive interest tenfold. Here are several of the latest digital security moves companies are making.
- Automated Security Assessments: One major problem corporations have is finding their vulnerabilities. Automated security assessments can solve that problem with a combination of analysis, Big Data, and some really good auditing practices.
- More Security Options from Web Hosts: As data security grows more important everywhere, companies are taking a hard look at what security options (firewalls, environment security, etc.) that their web hosts are offering. Companies are paying more for better security packages, and web hosts are upgrading their digital security to remain competitive.
Cyber Securities Around the Home
Enough about businesses – maybe you’re worried about cyber security around your home. Fortunately, there’s several ways you can improve your personal security, too.
- Password Maintenance: Welcome to Security 101. Change your router administrative password (it’s usually set on “password”) and use password management software to create strong logins for your devices and accounts.
- User Profiles: Manage your user accounts and limit access to sensitive information across your devices.
- Device Access (Particularly Mobile): Keep your mobile devices locked and consider using a mobile security app. Also be careful of what apps you download, especially on Android.
- Internet of Things Data Collection: What data do your smart devices collect? What do they do with that data? Do you know? Maybe you should.