What is Cybersecurity?
Reviewed and fact-checked by Sayantoni Das

Cybersecurity is the protection to defend internet-connected devices and services from malicious attacks by hackers, spammers, and cybercriminals. The practice is used by companies to protect against phishing schemes, ransomware attacks, identity theft, data breaches, and financial losses.

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 and concepts like the Internet of Things.

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

A steady rise in cybercrime 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 essential, and what to learn about it.

So, what is cyber security and how serious are cyber security threats these days? Read on and see.

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is a discipline that covers how to defend devices and services from electronic attacks by nefarious actors such as hackers, spammers, and cybercriminals. While some components of cyber security are designed to strike first, most of today's professionals focus more on determining the best way to defend all assets, from computers and smartphones to networks and databases, from attacks.

Cyber security has been used as a catch-all term in the media to describe the process of protection against every form of cybercrime, from identity theft to international digital weapons. These labels are valid, but they fail to capture the true nature of cyber security for those without a computer science degree or experience in the digital industry.

Cisco Systems, the tech conglomerate specializing in networking, the cloud, and security, defines cyber security as “…the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These cyberattacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes.”

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Why is Cybersecurity Important?

In today’s digital world, one cannot ignore cybersecurity. One single security breach can lead to exposing the personal information of millions of people. These breaches have a strong financial impact on the companies and also loss of the trust of customers. Hence, cyber security is very essential to protect businesses and individuals from spammers and cyber criminals.

The Scale of the Cyber Security Threat

According to Forbes, 2022 will present us with a pack of diverse and terrifying cyber security challenges, everything from supply chain disruption to increased smart device risks to a continued cyber security talent drought.

According to Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025! Furthermore, global cybercrime costs are predicted to rise by almost 15 percent yearly over the next four years.

Concepts such as the pandemic, cryptocurrency, and the rise in remote working are coming together to create a target-rich environment for criminals to take advantage of.

How Does Cyber Security Work? The Challenges of Cyber Security

Cyber security encompasses technologies, processes, and methods to defend computer systems, data, and networks from attacks. To best answer the question “what is cyber security” and how cyber security works, we must divide it into a series of subdomains:

Application Security

Application security covers the implementation of different defenses in an organization’s software and services against a diverse range of threats. This sub-domain requires cyber security experts to write secure code, design secure application architectures, implement robust data input validation, and more, to minimize the chance of unauthorized access or modification of application resources. 

Cloud Security

Cloud security relates to creating secure cloud architectures and applications for companies that use cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services, Google, Azure, Rackspace, etc.

Identity Management and Data Security

This subdomain covers activities, frameworks, and processes that enable authorization and authentication of legitimate individuals to an organization’s information systems. These measures involve implementing powerful information storage mechanisms that secure the data, whether in transition or residing on a server or computer. In addition, this sub-domain makes greater use of authentication protocols, whether two-factor or multi-factor.

Mobile Security

Mobile security is a big deal today as more people rely on mobile devices. This subdomain protects organizational and personal information stored on mobile devices like tablets, cell phones, and laptops from different threats like unauthorized access, device loss or theft, malware, viruses, etc. In addition, mobile security employs authentication and education to help amplify security.

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Network Security

Network security covers hardware and software mechanisms that protect the network and infrastructure from disruptions, unauthorized access, and other abuses. Effective network security protects organizational assets against a wide range of threats from within or outside the organization.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning

Not all threats are human-based. The DR BC subdomain covers processes, alerts, monitoring, and plans designed to help organizations prepare for keeping their business-critical systems running during and after any sort of incident (massive power outages, fires, natural disasters), and resuming and recovering lost operations and systems in the incident’s aftermath. 

User Education

Knowledge is power, and staff awareness of cyber threats is valuable in the cyber security puzzle. Giving business staff training on the fundamentals of computer security is critical in raising awareness about industry best practices, organizational procedures and policies, monitoring, and reporting suspicious, malicious activities. This subdomain covers cyber security-related classes, programs, and certifications.

What is Cyber Security and Types of Cyber Threats

Cybercrime is defined as any unauthorized activity involving a computer, device, or network. There are three generally recognized classifications of cybercrime: 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.

Here is a list of common cyber threats:

  • Cyberterrorism: This threat is a politically-based attack on computers and information technology to cause harm and create widespread social disruption.
  • Malware: This threat encompasses ransomware, spyware, viruses, and worms. It can install harmful software, block access to your computer resources, disrupt the system, or covertly transmit information from your data storage.
  • Trojans: Like the legendary Trojan Horse of mythology, this attack tricks users into thinking they're opening a harmless file. Instead, once the trojan is in place, it attacks the system, typically establishing a backdoor that allows access to cybercriminals.
  • Botnets: This especially hideous attack involves large-scale cyberattacks conducted by remotely controlled malware-infected devices. Think of it as a string of computers under the control of one coordinating cybercriminal. What’s worse, compromised computers become part of the botnet system.
  • Adware: This threat is a form of malware. It's often called advertisement-supported software. The adware virus is a potentially unwanted program (PUP) installed without your permission and automatically generates unwanted online advertisements.
  • SQL injection: A Structured Query Language attack inserts malicious code into a SQL-using server.
  • Phishing: Hackers use false communications, especially e-mail, to fool the recipient into opening it and following instructions that typically ask for personal information. Some phishing attacks also install malware.
  • Man-in-the-middle attack: MITM attacks involve hackers inserting themselves into a two-person online transaction. Once in, the hackers can filter and steal desired data. MITM attacks often happen on unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Man-in-the-middle attack: MITM attacks involve hackers inserting themselves into a two-person online transaction. Once in, the hackers can filter and steal desired data. MITM attacks often happen on unsecure public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Denial of Service: DoS is a cyber attack that floods a network or computer with an overwhelming amount of “handshake” processes, effectively overloading the system and making it incapable of responding to user requests.

As data breaches, hacking, and cybercrime reach new heights, companies increasingly rely on cyber security experts to identify potential threats and protect valuable data. So it makes sense that the cyber security market is expected to grow from $217 billion in 2021 to $345 billion by 2026, posting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.7% from 2021 to 2026.

The Advantages of Cyber Security

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 solid 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.

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

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Cybersecurity Myths

We are well aware that cyberattacks are continuing to grow. In today’s technology era, organizations and individuals must protect themselves against most types of threats. Unfortunately, there is a handful of cybersecurity misconceptions that are still holding too many people back from taking the necessary action to safeguard personal sensitive information. 

Here are some common cybersecurity myths one should know. 

  • Passwords alone are enough to protect you: one should not solely rely on passwords to keep the data safe. While strong passwords are essential, cybercriminals may still find ways to hack them. Hence it is necessary to implement robust cybersecurity measures, to have a multilayered defense. 
  • Deleting the file from the computer: By deleting the data from the computer, the file moves to the Recycle Bin and then empties it. Even after deleting the data, the data remains in the hard drive for example in the temporary files folder. 
  • Encryption solutions are not worth it: Some organizations retain the opinion that encryption software is something they can do without. It is a misconception that encryption will avoid data breaches. Encryption plays a vital role in defending against cybercriminals and ransomware attacks. 
  • Small and Medium-sized businesses are not targeted: It is a myth that only big companies are not secure, only those companies are targeted by cybercriminals. According to the 2021 Data Breach investigations report 61% of all Small and Medium businesses reported at least one cyber attack during the year. As these companies have less robust security measures. Hence it is necessary to protect companies from cybercrimes. 

Key Cybersecurity Technologies and Best Practices

Here is a given best practices list one should follow:

  • Use VPN to privatize your connections
  • Before clicking on links check the links
  • Do not be lethargic with your passwords
  • Scan external devices for viruses
  • Store sensitive information in a secure place
  • Enable two-factor authentication
  • Double-check the HTTPS on websites
  • Remove adware from the computer
  • Disable Bluetooth connection when you are not using it.
  • Avoid using public networks
  • Invest in security upgrades
  • Employ white hat hacker

Cyber Safety Tips

Here is a list of top cybersecurity tips to implement is given below:

  • Keep software up-to-date
  • Avoid opening suspicious emails
  • Use Antivirus and Antimalware software on the electronic devices
  • Use a security file-sharing solution to encrypt data.
  • Use strong passwords
  • Backup your data
  • Be cautious of phishing scams
  • Use password manager
  • Use two-factor authentication
  • Don’t reuse passwords

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.

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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

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

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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.

Equip yourself with the latest skills and expertise in the fastest growing field of cybersecurity. Enroll today in the Best PGP in Cyber Security and stay abreast with the latest trends.

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There is a critical and growing need for qualified cybersecurity professionals today. There is also a shortage of those, which means that there is a giant opportunity to get in on this field. Whether you are just starting out, looking to boost your existing skills and credentials, or change your career because you are looking for a new challenge, checkout Simplilearn's Post Graduate Program in Cyber Security or Cyber security bootcamp that can help attain your goals. 

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1. Why is Cyber Security Important?

Cybersecurity is crucial because it safeguards all types of data against theft and loss. Sensitive data, protected health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property, personal information, data, and government and business information systems are all included. Many websites would be practically impossible to enjoy if cyber security specialists did not work ceaselessly to prevent denial-of-service attacks. Consider not having access to Simplilearn's experienced and certified professional network – no more tips, methods, and guidance to help you reach your professional objectives!

2. What are the Challenges of Cyber Security?

Ransomware is the most serious threat in the digital world right now. There were unprecedented ransomware assaults in 2021, and this trend is expected to continue into 2022. The Internet of Things, sometimes known as IoT, is the most vulnerable to data security risks. IoT refers to any digital, mechanical, computer-smart device that can communicate data over an internet network, such as a laptop or a mobile phone. Hackers utilize gadgets around you, such as wearable smartwatches, baby monitors, smart fridges, or smart lighting, to gain access to your personal device, which carries sensitive information. This is yet another significant obstacle. Another major cause of compromised data security is a lack of encryption, authentication, and poor cloud settings.

3. How to Manage Cyber Security

Maintain the most recent version of your software.

Use anti-virus software and a firewall.

Make use of strong passwords and a password management tool.

Authentication might be two-factor or multi-factor.

Understand Phishing Scams: Emails, phone calls, and pamphlets should all be treated with caution.

4. What does cybersecurity mean for your business?

Security measures are taken to safeguard computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks, illegal access, and improper use. If you operate a business, you need to make efforts to make yourself cybersecurity in order to keep your data protected from hackers. Anti-malware and antivirus protection is critical for keeping dangerous actors out of your machine.

5. What are the 5 types of cyber security?

Application security.

Critical infrastructure security.

Network security.

Internet of Things (IoT) security.

Cloud security.

6. What is the most important thing in cyber security?

The most critical factors for ensuring cybersecurity right now are visibility, mitigation, prioritizing, and encryption.

7. What are the advantages and disadvantages of cyber security?

It may protect you from viruses, malware, ransomware, data theft or loss due to hacking, and so on. For organizations, it might involve safeguarding against financial crimes such as staff embezzlement or consumers unlawfully accessing corporate account information, resulting in identity theft. In general, the downsides of cyber security manifest themselves in the following ways: Firewalls are difficult to configure properly. Incorrectly built firewalls may prevent users from engaging in specific Internet activities until the firewall is properly set. Slows the system down considerably more than previously.

About the Author

Karin KelleyKarin Kelley

Karin has spent more than a decade writing about emerging enterprise and cloud technologies. A passionate and lifelong researcher, learner, and writer, Karin is also a big fan of the outdoors, music, literature, and environmental and social sustainability.

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