What is cyber security? Definition and examples

Cyber security image 48984984984Cyber security refers to the practice of protecting computer systems, networks, programs, and data from cyber attacks or digital attacks.

The word cyber is short for cybernetics. Cyber is a prefix or adjective which means relating to or characteristic of IT (information technology), computers, and virtual reality. Cybernetics is the science of communications and automatic control devices or machines, as well as living things. Cyber originated in the early 1980s as a short form for cybernetics.

Therefore, cyber security refers to anything that protects computers, information technology, virtual reality, etc.

According to itgovernance.co.uk:

“Cyber security consists of technologies, processes and controls designed to protect systems, networks, programs, devices and data from cyber attacks.”

“Effective cyber security reduces the risk of cyber attacks and protects against the unauthorized exploitation of systems, networks and technologies.”

Cyber security is part of the umbrella term Information Security. Information security or IT security aims to protect all digital and hard copy information assets.

Cyber security – protection from cyber attacks

New technology is forever trying to protect computers and systems from hackers, cyber attacks, and malware threats. A cyber security kiosk for example, can help companies safeguard their infrastructure from malware threats on removable devices brought in by employees, contractors, and others.

A cyber attack is any type of offensive maneuver that targets a computer network or computer information system. We can write the term as one or two words, with or without a hyphen, i.e.:

  • cyber attack,
  • cyber-attack, or
  • cyberattack.

However, you should select one of the three writing options and stick to it throughout a text.

Cyber attacks may also target personal devices, infrastructure, and medical devices. Tablets, smartphones, and laptops, for example, are personal devices.

A cyberattack that targets infrastructure can devastate a whole town, region, or even country. Our electricity network, railway systems, and water supply are examples of infrastructure. Any attack that leaves thousands or millions of people without electricity, natural gas, or water could result in deaths, especially during wintertime.

Cyber security is all about making sure our infrastructure, personal devices, medical devices, etc. continue operating unhindered.

Cyber attackers

Cyber security attacker image 494949494The person who carries out a cyber attack – a cyber attacker – has malicious intent. This person intends to cause harm. Cyber attackers are invariably breaking the law when they initiate an onslaught. They aim to steal, destroy, or alter something by hacking into a network or computer system.

According to CISCO, an American multinational tech company, cyber attackers usually aim to destroy, change, or access sensitive information. They may do this to interrupt normal business operations or extort money from people, businesses, governments, and other organizations.

Regarding cyber security, CISCO makes the following comment:

“Implementing effective cyber security measures is particularly challenging today because there are more devices than people, and attackers are becoming more innovative.”

Cyber security – people, processes & technology

For effective cyber security in any organization, its people, processes and technology need to complement one another. Without these three parts working properly and together, an effective and successful defense from cyber attacks is more difficult to achieve.

Cyber security quote image 9993994939949939
Ludmila Morozova-Buss, a Digital Transformation People Author, is the Vice President of the Global Institute for IT Management. (Image: adapted from twitter.com/topcybernews)

People

Everybody in an organization needs to understand and adhere to fundamental data security protocols. For example, data should be backed up, email attachments should be treated with extreme caution, and passwords should be robust.

Processes

All businesses, government departments, and other organizations should have cyber attack measures in place. In other words, a framework for both successful and attempted attacks. Everybody should know what to do if they suspect that an attack is taking place or has occurred.

Technology

All smart devices, routers, computers, medical devices, etc. should be protected. Today, we have DNS filtering systems, next-generation firewalls, antivirus software, and email security solutions which make it significantly more difficult for hackers to find a way in.


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