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What is cybersecurity?


Cybersecurity defined with best practices and ways to protect against cyber threats.

Read time: 4 minutes

Businesses need cybersecurity solutions today more than ever.

'What cybersecurity is’ has almost become less important to why it’s needed – which is to protect your data and information from cyber threats.

Yet, even with all the attention being given to cybersecurity, it seems a week doesn’t pass without reports of another data breach or major hack.

In fact, most cybersecurity experts agree that it’s not a matter of if, but when a company will be attacked – with an attack probably happening more than once.

To ensure the best cybersecurity defense for your business, it helps to understand the basics.

Here's a short quiz to gauge your knowledge on cyber threats:

A common example of a cyber threat is:

  1. A ransomware attack in which hackers demand money (usually cryptocurrency) to release encrypted data and/or locked devices.

  2. A phishing email to unsuspecting employees containing malware that infects entire systems when opened.

  3. A Denial of Service (DoS) attack in which thousands of “zombified” computers bombard a website with requests to the point of crashing it.

  4. All of the above.

Hackers engage in criminal activity to:

  1. Extort money from targeted businesses.

  2. Sell stolen customer identities and credit card data on the dark web.

  3. Interrupt business operations in protest of corporate policies.

  4. All of the above.

Organizations vulnerable to cybercrime are:

  1. Typically large enterprises with a huge digital footprint and lots of cash.

  2. Small and medium-sized businesses without the resources to build a reliable cyber threat defense system.

  3. Local, state, and federal government agencies with databases storing millions of customer identities.

  4. All of the above.

Successful data breaches can result in:

  1. Extended periods of downtime, lost revenues, and reduced customer trust.

  2. Permanent data loss and damaged computing assets.

  3. Exposure to fines and other penalties for compliance violations.

  4. All of the above.

If you answered “All of the above” to all of the above, then it’s clear that you understand how serious cybercrime is and how vulnerable your organization might be.

Keep reading to build on your knowledge as this article will:

  • Define cybersecurity

  • Share best practices

  • Provide information you can use to find the solutions you need

  • And answers perhaps the most pressing question…

What is a business to do?

Cybersecurity defined

Cybersecurity is the act of implementing sophisticated layers of network defense and firewalls to protect critical systems and sensitive information against threats from digital attacks.

The reality is that the types and severity of cybercrime are constantly evolving and multiplying.

  • There are malware attacks such as viruses that attempt to destroy data. 

  • Ransomware is a particularly nasty type that locks down systems and threatens to erase data unless a ransom is paid.

  • Phishing scams try to trick unsuspecting end users into giving up sensitive personal information such as social security (SSI) and credit card numbers to sell on the dark web.

  • There are Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm a website with traffic. 

  • Man-in-the-Middle attacks involve hackers trying to intercept messages between two parties to steal company data.

And not all threats are external. Current or former employees with a grudge and intimate network knowledge can wreak havoc on a business from behind the firewall. Companies must be on the lookout for cybercrime from all directions.

Cybersecurity solutions, therefore, are applications, measures, and devices that constantly monitor network traffic for suspicious activity. Upon detecting a threat, it isolates and quarantines affected files and devices, and immediately alerts IT staff as to the exact location and proper response to the breach, limiting its impact and assisting with recovery.

Cybersecurity management includes physical controls, procedural controls, technical controls, and compliance controls. There are tools that search for signs of stolen credentials on the dark web, and silicon-based boot processes to validate servers have not been compromised in Zero-trust environments.

Maintaining cybersecurity in a constantly evolving threat environment is a never ending challenge, and one that usually requires outside expertise.

Related content

Article: Is my business really at risk of a cyber-attack?

Article: 11 essential hacking terms defined

Best practices to reduce your cyber risk

There are several basic steps every business can take on their own to reduce their threat profile and harden their security posture at little to no cost, including:

  • Implementing single-sign-on (SSO) technology to reduce password vulnerabilities and set levels of network permission by individual user.

  • Scheduling mandatory changing of user passwords.

  • Using multi-factor authentication to confirm user identities.

  • Educating employees on how to identify the latest phishing scams and malware emails.

  • Prohibiting the use of personal devices for business workloads.

  • Establishing secure network connections for work-from-home users.

  • Publishing a company cybersecurity policy with baseline standards for all employees to follow.

  • Vetting third-party suppliers for data security and engaging only those vendors that employ threat detection and containment technologies to insulate supply chains.

Even with all these measures, the bad guys are pretty smart. It can be difficult to stay a step ahead without professional, proactive threat monitoring and detection technologies and services.

Of course, for many businesses placing that additional burden on internal IT teams may not be the best solution, or even an option at all. Keeping pace with the latest malware or virus attacks can be overwhelming for organizations with thousands of employees and devices, as well as for smaller businesses with fewer IT resources available.

Related content

Article: Cybersecurity best practices for a remote workforce to protect your business

Article: Stop digital adversaries with a risk-based cybersecurity approach: Part One 

Article: Why IT leaders must start considering the human element of cybersecurity 

Cybersecurity services reduce attack surfaces

To neutralize cyber threats, businesses need constant vigilance and a comprehensive cybersecurity plan designed to mitigate risks to the organization. A cybersecurity services partner can support your efforts with fully managed security services featuring monitoring, endpoint protection agents, identity management, planning, project and implementation services, ransomware protection, and more can ensure your business data is always protected.

Today, the reality is that no business is 100% safe.

Related content

Solutions: Safeguard your business: ransomware prevention by containment and isolation

Solutions: Cybersecurity Services – Reduce your risk and exposure to malicious cyber threats 

Solutions: Expand your team without adding headcount with Managed Security Services

Questions about your specific situation?

Speak with one of our IT security professionals for personalized answers.

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