What is Digital Security: Overview, Types, and Applications Explained

We live in a time when much of our lives, personal and professional, reside online. We do our banking, music purchases, bill paying, social planning, and even parts of our job, in the digital world. This increased reliance on the internet and digital networks brings risks along with the convenience it provides.

Online criminals, hackers, even just bored mischief-makers lurk in the shadows, waiting to rob you, commit fraud, steal your identity, or simply embarrass you. Therefore, digital information security is of paramount concern.

This article takes a good hard look at digital data security, including a detailed definition of what is digital security, digital security risk definition, and how experts go about securing digital information. Let’s begin with the basics.

What is Digital Security?

Digital security is the collective term that describes the resources employed to protect your online identity, data, and other assets. These tools include web services, antivirus software, smartphone SIM cards, biometrics, and secured personal devices.

In other words, digital security is the process used to protect your online identity.

What’s the Difference Between Digital Information Security and Cyber Security?

You may have heard the term “cyber security” bandied about. That’s hardly surprising since illegally accessing someone’s data, identity, or financial resources is called a “cybercrime,” which in turn creates a need for cyber security.

Yet, there’s a difference between digital security and cyber security. Digital security involves protecting your online presence (data, identity, assets). At the same time, cyber security covers more ground, protecting entire networks, computer systems, and other digital components, and the data stored within from unauthorized access.

You could make a case for calling digital security a sub-type of cyber security. Many industry professionals use the two terms interchangeably, but in reality, digital security protects information, and cyber security protects the infrastructure, all systems, networks, and information.

Why is Digital Data Security Important?

This infographic from 2019 shows some of the most significant data security breaches of the past decade. As if that wasn’t alarming enough, this article reports that over seven million data records get compromised each day, and incidents of cyber fraud and abuse increased by 20 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

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Cybercriminals are opportunists attracted by the sheer volume, value, and variety of data available for exploitation. And all they need is just one good haul to make their efforts worth it. If they can fool only one consumer—through a phishing attack, for example—hackers could reap the rewards of a stolen identity or a compromised credit card with a substantial balance to burn through.

Like we said at the start, our increased reliance on the internet means we have a lot more to lose if something goes sideways. The stakes are raised; we need impeccable, reliable digital data security.

What Kind of Information is Considered a Digital Security Risk?

Not every bit (or byte) of your information is useful to cybercriminals. A total stranger finding out that you prefer the original Star Wars trilogy to the sequels is scarcely an earth-shattering revelation that could compromise your identity or financial security. So, what kinds of data are at risk?

  • Personal Identification Data

    This data includes your name, phone number, address, email account name, IP address, and, most damaging, your Social Security number. It also includes information that potentially pinpoints your location. Personal data is often used for identity theft and social engineering. Also, a hacker who has your Social Security number (or equivalent) can open credit card accounts in your name, thereby eventually destroying your credit score.
  • Personal Payment Data

    If it has to do with financial transactions, it’s considered personal payment data. This information includes credit and debit card numbers (including expiration dates), online banking numbers (account and routing), and PIN codes. Criminals who gain access to your online banking information can even transfer funds out of the accounts or make purchases.
  • Personal Health Data

    Also known as personal health information (PHI), this data type encompasses information on your health, including medical history, prescription drugs, health insurance subscriptions, and doctor and hospital visits. This information is precious to high-rolling cybercriminals since they can use your health information to file false insurance claims or order and resell prescription drugs.

What Are the Different Types of Digital Security?

As you can see, there is a lot that can go wrong if your digital data is compromised. Fortunately, security in the digital world comes in many forms, offering a wide choice of defense methods. These include:

  • Antivirus Software

    Viruses delivered through malware and other malicious systems infect your data and bring your system to a screeching halt. A good antivirus program not only detects and cleans out these infections, but also keeps out suspicious programs and isolates likely threats.
  • Current, Updated Firewalls

    This tool monitors web traffic, identifies authorized users, blocks unauthorized access, and—if current enough—will even protect against next-generation viruses. Firewalls have been around for years, and many cyber security experts dismiss them as obsolete. However, a state-of-the-art version is a potentially useful tool for keeping out unwanted users.
  • Proxies

    Proxies are digital security tools that bridge the gap between users and the internet, using filtering rules in line with an organization’s IT policies. Proxies block dangerous websites and leverage an authentication system that can control access and monitor usage.
  • Remote Monitoring Software

    Remote monitoring allows the data security team to collect information, diagnose problems, and oversee all the applications and hardware from a remote location. Remote monitoring provides flexibility and convenience, enabling administrators to resolve any issue anytime, anywhere.
  • Vulnerability Scanner

    This tool detects, evaluates, and manages any weak spots in your organization’s system. Vulnerability scanners not only identify flaws but also prioritizes them to help you organize your countermeasures. IT security teams can use scanners for both web applications and internal systems.

What Are Some Specific Examples of Digital Security Tools?

We’ve discussed the various types of digital security, but now we’re going to explore some specific security tools available. These tools protect the integrity of your information flowing back and forth between various online media since this is a particularly vulnerable (and often-used) target for criminals and hackers.

  • Instant Message Encryption Tools

    You would be surprised how much sensitive information passes through IMs. ChatSecure is a messaging app that offers secure encryption for Android and iOS phones, and Cryph secures your Mac or Windows-based web browsers.
  • Navigation Privacy Tools

    Criminals can’t steal what they can’t see. Anonymox protects your identity by creating a proxy, letting you change your IP and surf anonymously. It’s available as an add-on for Google Chrome and Firefox. Tor isolates every website you explore, so advertisements and third-party trackers can’t lock into you. It also clears your browsing history, removes cookies, and provides multi-layer encryption.
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    Telephone Encryption Tools

    SilentPhone offers smartphone users end-to-end encryption for voice conversations, messaging, file transfer, video, and more. It’s compatible with Android and iOS devices and is free. Signal is an independent nonprofit resource that lets users share text, GIFs, voice messages, photos, videos, and data files.

Security Training Resources

Digital security tools (and cyber security, too!) are wide-ranging and cover many subjects and aspects of the threat landscape. One article alone cannot do proper justice to the topic. To that end, Simplilearn offers a variety of training courses to expand your knowledge in different security disciplines, and help you gain valuable certification in various aspects of IT security.

If you want to learn more about becoming a white-hat hacker (one of the good guys), check out the CEH (v10) - Certified Ethical Hacking Course and learn how to protect your system. IT security professionals can benefit from Simplilearn’s Enterprise IT security courses such as CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) certification training, Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification training, and COBIT certification training. These courses are valuable upskilling resources, and could mean the difference between remaining at your current position, or advancing into a better career!

IT professionals looking to improve their knowledge of risk management and network security should check out the CompTIA Security+ certification training course, covering topics like risk mitigation, threat analysis, and configuring systems to run secure applications.

These are but a few of the security-related courses available. And in the field of digital and cybersecurity, there is no such thing as having too much training!

Do You Want to Become a Cybersecurity Expert?

As we’ve seen from statistics, cybercrime is here to stay. Consequently, there will always be a high demand for cyber security experts. Simplilearn can equip you for this exciting and rewarding career with its Cyber Security Expert master’s program.

The program gives you the skills needed to become an expert in this fast-growing industry. You’ll learn comprehensive methods of protecting your infrastructure, including architecting cloud-based security, securing data and information, running risk analysis and mitigation, meeting compliance standards, and more.

The program consists of six courses, providing you with more than 96 hours of live online classes. You will also be awarded your master’s certification and provided with an exam voucher for CEH & CompTIA Security+.

According to Ziprecruiter, a Cybersecurity Engineer can earn an annual average of USD 120,708. If you’re looking for a better career or want to boost your skillset, check out Simplilearn today, and become a digital security expert!

About the Author

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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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