What is Cyber Security: A Beginner's Guide

Look around today's world, and you'll see that daily life is more dependent on technology than ever before. The benefits of this trend range from near-instant access to information on the Internet to the modern conveniences provided by smart home automation technology.

With so much good coming from technology, it can be hard to believe that potential threats are lurking behind every device and platform. Despite society's rosy perception of modern advances, cyber security threats presented by modern tech are a real danger.

A steady rise in cyber-crime highlights the flaws in devices and services we've come to depend on. This concern forces us to ask what cyber security is, why it's important, and what to learn about it.

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is an area that covers how to defend devices and services from electronic attacks by nefarious actors such as hackers. While there can be offensive components to cyber security, most of today's professionals focus on determining the best way to defend everything from computers and smartphones to networks and databases from attackers.

Cyber security has been used as a catch-all term in the media to describe everything from identity theft to international digital weapons. These labels are valid yet fail to capture the true nature of cyber security for those without a computer science degree or experience in the digital industry.

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Why is Cyber Security Important?

Today's cyber security industry is primarily focused on protecting devices and systems from attackers. While the bits and bytes behind these efforts can be hard to visualize, it's much easier to consider the effects. Without cyber security professionals working tirelessly, many websites would be nearly impossible to enjoy due to ever-present denial-of-service attack attempts. Imagine not having access to Simplilearn's community of experts and certified professionals – no more tips, tricks, and advice to help you achieve your professional goals!

Without strong cyber security defenses, it would be easy to destroy modern-day essentials like the power grids and water treatment facilities that keep the world running smoothly. In May 2019, E&E News reported that an anonymous U.S. utility became the first to report a malicious "cyber event" that disrupted grid operations, an unfortunate milestone for our country's power sector. Power generation wasn't harmed, and there were no blackouts, but the impact could have been much costlier.

Simply put, cyber security is critically important because it helps to preserve the lifestyles we have come to know and enjoy.

CIA Triad

The security of any organization starts with three principles: Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability. This is called as CIA, which has served as the industry standard for computer security since the time of first mainframes.

CIA Triad

     Fig: CIA triad

  • Confidentiality: The principles of confidentiality assert that only authorized parties can access sensitive information and functions. Example: military secrets.
  • Integrity: The principles of integrity assert that only authorized people and means can alter, add, or remove sensitive information and functions. Example: a user entering incorrect data into the database.
  • Availability: The principles of availability assert that systems, functions, and data must be available on-demand according to agreed-upon parameters based on levels of service.

Let’s look at the areas in cybersecurity to understand the space better.

Types of Cyber Crimes

Cybercrime is any unauthorized activity involving a computer, device, or network. The three types are computer-assisted crimes, crimes where the computer itself is a target, and crimes where the computer is incidental to the crime rather than directly related to it.

Cybercriminals usually try to profit off of their crimes using a variety of tactics, including:

  • Denial of Service, or DOS

    Where a hacker consumes all of a server’s resources, so there’s nothing for legitimate users to access
  • Malware 

    Where victims are hit with a worm or virus that renders their devices useless
  • Man in the Middle 

    Where a hacker puts himself between a victim’s machine and a router to sniff data packets
  • Phishing 

    Where a hacker sends a seemingly legitimate-looking email asking users to disclose personal information

Other types of cyberattacks include cross-site scripting attacks, password attacks, eavesdropping attacks (which can also be physical), SQL-injection attacks, and birthday attacks based on algorithm functions.

Who is a Cyber Security Expert?

As data breaches, hacking, and cybercrime reach new heights, companies are increasingly relying on Cyber Security experts to identify potential threats and protect valuable data. It makes sense that the Cyber Security market is expected to grow from $152 billion in 2018 to $248 billion by 2023.

So what do Cyber Security experts do? On any given day, they:

  • Find, test, and repair weaknesses within a company's infrastructure.
  • Monitor systems for malicious content
  • Identify network breaches
  • Install regular software updates, firewalls, and antivirus protection
  • Strengthen areas where attacks may have occurred

They work in one or more of these common Cyber Security domains to keep data safe:

  • Asset security: Analyze networks, computers, routers, and wireless access points
  • Security architecture and engineering: Standardize security policies and procedures
  • Communication and network security: Regulate cloud storage and data transfer
  • Identity and access management: Track user authentication and accountability
  • Security operations: Monitor security to identify attacks
  • Security assessment and testing: Test security policies to ensure compliance with industry standards
  • Software development security: Create and repeatedly test code
  • Security and risk management: Identify potential risks and implement appropriate security controls

Cyber Security experts employ different tactics to secure computer systems and networks. Some of the best practices include:

  • Using two-way authentication
  • Securing passwords
  • Installing regular updates
  • Running antivirus software
  • Using firewalls to disable unwanted services
  • Avoiding phishing scams
  • Employing cryptography, or encryption
  • Securing domain name servers, or DNS

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Are Certifications Important for Cyber Security Professionals?

A leading cyber security professional doesn't necessarily need to boast a traditional academic background. Due to this fact, certifications have become an industry-standard marker of knowledge and proficiency, and this has led to the development of many options for those who want to upskill for a promising career in cyber security.

Are you looking for expert instruction at an affordable price? Simplilearn offers several certification-focused courses that are accessible to everyone, regardless of their background. Some of our most popular courses include:

Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH) Certification

Have you ever wanted to learn how to hack into networks but are wary of the prospect of getting into trouble? Our CEH Certification will show you that ethical hacking skills can be an entry point into a meaningful and exciting career path.

CISSP Certification

This course will show you everything you need to know to become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). CISSP Certification is one of the most sought-after credentials in today's cyber security job market. A small investment in this training can have an impact on the trajectory of your career.

Cyber Security Expert

Once you've mastered the fundamentals of information technology and networking, you'll be ready to become a Cyber Security Expert. As an advanced course, it offers experienced professionals an excellent opportunity to expand their cyber toolset, laying out a program for those who are motivated to reach lofty career goals in the cyber security industry.

Explore Topics for Limitless Career Opportunities

Are you interested in pursuing lifelong education? Want to be empowered to make a lasting and positive impact on the world? Cyber security is an exciting career field that directly impacts many aspects of our everyday lives. With a deficit of qualified cyber security professionals available, now is an excellent time strike. At the same time, the iron is hot and learns to defend everything from computers and smartphones to networks and databases.

Jump into this brave new world with our cyber security course offerings – a great place to get started. Our catalog includes everything from Introduction to Cyber Security to industry-standard certification coursework and beyond. Regardless of your academic or professional background, our world-class instructors can help you make a seamless transition into this rapidly-expanding industry.

About the Author

SimplilearnSimplilearn

Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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