WHAT IS CYBER SECURITY?
Computer security, cybersecurity, or information technology security is the protection of computer systems and networks from information disclosure, theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.
Cyber security is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks. It’s also known as information technology security or electronic information security. The term applies in a variety of contexts, from business to mobile computing, and can be divided into a few common categories.
· Network security is the practice of securing a computer network from intruders, whether targeted attackers or opportunistic malware.
· Application security focuses on keeping software and devices free of threats. A compromised application could provide access to the data its designed to protect. Successful security begins in the design stage, well before a program or device is deployed.
· Information security protects the integrity and privacy of data, both in storage and in transit.
· Operational security includes the processes and decisions for handling and protecting data assets. The permissions users have when accessing a network and the procedures that determine how and where data may be stored or shared all fall under this umbrella.
· Disaster recovery and business continuity define how an organization responds to a cyber-security incident or any other event that causes the loss of operations or data. Disaster recovery policies dictate how the organization restores its operations and information to return to the same operating capacity as before the event. Business continuity is the plan the organization falls back on while trying to operate without certain resources.
· End-user education addresses the most unpredictable cyber-security factor: people. Anyone can accidentally introduce a virus to an otherwise secure system by failing to follow good security practices. Teaching users to delete suspicious email attachments, not plug in unidentified USB drives, and various other important lessons is vital for the security of any organization.
Types of cyber threats
The threats countered by cyber-security are three-fold:
1. Cybercrime includes single actors or groups targeting systems for financial gain or to cause disruption.
2. Cyber-attack often involves politically motivated information gathering.
3. Cyberterrorism is intended to undermine electronic systems to cause panic or fear.
So, how do malicious actors gain control of computer systems? Here are some common methods used to threaten cyber-security:
Malware means malicious software. One of the most common cyber threats, malware is software that a cybercriminal or hacker has created to disrupt or damage a legitimate user’s computer. Often spread via an unsolicited email attachment or legitimate-looking download, malware may be used by cybercriminals to make money or in politically motivated cyber-attacks.
There are a number of different types of malware, including:
· Virus: A self-replicating program that attaches itself to clean file and spreads throughout a computer system, infecting files with malicious code.
· Trojans:A type of malware that is disguised as legitimate software. Cybercriminals trick users into uploading Trojans onto their computer where they cause damage or collect data.
· Spyware: A program that secretly records what a user does, so that cybercriminals can make use of this information. For example, spyware could capture credit card details.
· Ransomware: Malware which locks down a user’s files and data, with the threat of erasing it unless a ransom is paid.
· Adware: Advertising software which can be used to spread malware.
· Botnets: Networks of malware infected computers which cybercriminals use to perform tasks online without the user’s permission.
An SQL (structured language query) injection is a type of cyber-attack used to take control of and steal data from a database. Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in data-driven applications to insert malicious code into a databased via a malicious SQL statement. This gives them access to the sensitive information contained in the database.
Phishing is when cybercriminals target victims with emails that appear to be from a legitimate company asking for sensitive information. Phishing attacks are often used to dupe people into handing over credit card data and other personal information.
A man-in-the-middle attack is a type of cyber threat where a cybercriminal intercepts communication between two individuals in order to steal data. For example, on an unsecure WiFi network, an attacker could intercept data being passed from the victim’s device and the network.
A denial-of-service attack is where cybercriminals prevent a computer system from fulfilling legitimate requests by overwhelming the networks and servers with traffic. This renders the system unusable, preventing an organization from carrying out vital functions.
Latest cyber threats
What are the latest cyber threats that individuals and organizations need to guard against? Here are some of the most recent cyber threats that the U.K., U.S., and Australian governments have reported on.
In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) charged the leader of an organized cyber-criminal group for their part in a global Dridex malware attack. This malicious campaign affected the public, government, infrastructure and business worldwide.
Dridex is a financial trojan with a range of capabilities. Affecting victims since 2014, it infects computers though phishing emails or existing malware. Capable of stealing passwords, banking details and personal data which can be used in fraudulent transactions, it has caused massive financial losses amounting to hundreds of millions.
In response to the Dridex attacks, the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre advises the public to “ensure devices are patched, anti-virus is turned on and up to date and files are backed up”.
In February 2020, the FBI warned U.S. citizens to be aware of confidence fraud that cybercriminals commit using dating sites, chat rooms and apps. Perpetrators take advantage of people seeking new partners, duping victims into giving away personal data.
The FBI reports that romance cyber threats affected 114 victims in New Mexico in 2019, with financial losses amounting to $1.6 million.
In late 2019, The Australian Cyber Security Centre warned national organizations about a widespread global cyber threat from Emotet malware.
Emotet is a sophisticated trojan that can steal data and also load other malware. Emotet thrives on unsophisticated password: a reminder of the importance of creating a secure password to guard against cyber threats.
End-user protection or endpoint security is a crucial aspect of cyber security. After all, it is often an individual (the end-user) who accidentally uploads malware or another form of cyber threat to their desktop, laptop or mobile device.
So, how do cyber-security measures protect end users and systems? First, cyber-security relies on cryptographic protocols to encrypt emails, files, and other critical data. This not only protects information in transit, but also guards against loss or theft.
In addition, end-user security software scans computers for pieces of malicious code, quarantines this code, and then removes it from the machine. Security programs can even detect and remove malicious code hidden in primary boot record and are designed to encrypt or wipe data from computer’s hard drive.
Electronic security protocols also focus on real-time malware detection Many use heuristic and behavioral analysis to monitor the behavior of a program and its code to defend against viruses or Trojans that change their shape with each execution (polymorphic and metamorphic malware). Security programs can confine potentially malicious programs to a virtual bubble separate from a user’s network to analyze their behavior and learn how to better detect new infections.
Security programs continue to evolve new defenses as cyber-security professionals identify new threats and new ways to combat them. To make the most of end-user security software, employees need to be educated about how to use it. Crucially, keeping it running and updating it frequently ensures that it can protect users against the latest cyber threats.
Cyber safety tips – protect yourself against cyberattacks
How can businesses and individuals guard against cyber threats? Here are our top cyber safety tips:
1. Update your software and operating system: This means you benefit from the latest security patches.
2. Use anti-virus software: Security solutions like Kaspersky Total Security will detect and removes threats. Keep your software updated for the best level of protection.
3. Use strong passwords: Ensure your passwords are not easily guessable.
4. Do not open email attachments from unknown senders: These could be infected with malware.
5. Do not click on links in emails from unknown senders or unfamiliar websites:This is a common way that malware is spread.
6. Avoid using unsecure WiFi networks in public places: Unsecure networks leave you vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.
WHAT IS CLOUD BASED CYBER SECURITY SOLUTIONS
Cloud computing security or, more simply, cloud security refers to a broad set of policies, technologies, applications, and controls utilized to protect virtualized IP, data, applications, services, and the associated infrastructure of cloud computing.
Cloud security is a discipline of cyber security dedicated to securing cloud computing systems. This includes keeping data private and safe across online-based infrastructure, applications, and platforms. … Cloud providers host services on their servers through always-on internet connections.
Cloud security is the whole bundle of technology, protocols, and best practices that protect cloud computing environments, applications running in the cloud, and data held in the cloud. Securing cloud services begins with understanding what exactly is being secured, as well as, the system aspects that must be managed.
As an overview, backend development against security vulnerabilities is largely within the hands of cloud service providers. Aside from choosing a security-conscious provider, clients must focus mostly on proper service configuration and safe use habits. Additionally, clients should be sure that any end-user hardware and networks are properly secured.
The full scope of cloud security is designed to protect the following, regardless of your responsibilities:
How does cloud security work?
Every cloud security measure works to accomplish one or more of the following:
- Enable data recovery in case of data loss
- Protect storage and networks against malicious data theft
- Deter human error or negligence that causes data leaks
- Reduce the impact of any data or system compromise
Data security is an aspect of cloud security that involves the technical end of threat prevention. Tools and technologies allow providers and clients to insert barriers between the access and visibility of sensitive data. Among these, encryption is one of the most powerful tools available. Encryption scrambles your data so that it’s only readable by someone who has the encryption key. If your data is lost or stolen, it will be effectively unreadable and meaningless. Data transit protections like virtual private networks (VPNs) are also emphasized in cloud networks.
Identity and access management (IAM) pertains to the accessibility privileges offered to user accounts. Managing authentication and authorization of user accounts also apply here. Access controls are pivotal to restrict users — both legitimate and malicious — from entering and compromising sensitive data and systems. password management multi-factor authentication, and other methods fall in the scope of IAM.
Governance focuses on policies for threat prevention, detection, and mitigation. With SMB and enterprises, aspects like threat intel can help with tracking and prioritizing threats to keep essential systems guarded carefully. However, even individual cloud clients could benefit from valuing safe user behavior policies and training. These apply mostly in organizational environments, but rules for safe use and response to threats can be helpful to any user.
Data retention (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning involve technical disaster recovery measures in case of data loss. Central to any DR and BC plan are methods for data redundancy such as backups. Additionally, having technical systems for ensuring uninterrupted operations can help. Frameworks for testing the validity of backups and detailed employee recovery instructions are just as valuable for a thorough BC plan.
Legal compliance revolves around protecting user privacy as set by legislative bodies. Governments have taken up the importance of protecting private user information from being exploited for profit. As such, organizations must follow regulations to abide by these policies. One approach is the use of data masking, which obscures identity within data via encryption methods.
To simplify, cloud computing components are secured from two main viewpoints:
1. Cloud service types are offered by third-party providers as modules used to create the cloud environment. Depending on the type of service, you may manage a different degree of the components within the service:
- The core of any third-party cloud service involves the provider managing the physical network, data storage, data servers, and computer virtualization frameworks. The service is stored on the provider’s servers and virtualized via their internally managed network to be delivered to clients to be accessed remotely. This offloads hardware and other infrastructure costs to give clients access to their computing needs from anywhere via internet connectivity.
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud services provide clients access to applications that are purely hosted and run on the provider’s servers. Providers manage the applications, data, runtime, middleware, and operating system. Clients are only tasked with getting their applications. SaaS examples include Google Drive, Slack, Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Cisco WebEx, Evernote.
- Platform-as-a-Service cloud services provide clients a host for developing their own applications, which are run within a client’s own “sandboxed” space on provider servers. Providers manage the runtime, middleware, operating system. Clients are tasked with managing their applications, data, user access, end-user devices, and end-user networks. PaaS examples include Google App Engine, Windows Azure.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud services offer clients the hardware and remote connectivity frameworks to house the bulk of their computing, down to the operating system. Providers only manage core cloud services. Clients are tasked with securing all that gets stacked atop an operating system, including applications, data, runtimes, middleware, and the OS itself. In addition, clients need to manage user access, end-user devices, and end-user networks. IaaS examples include Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Amazon Web Services (AWS).
2. Cloud environments are deployment models in which one or more cloud services create a system for the end-users and organizations. These segments the management responsibilities — including security — between clients and providers.
The currently used cloud environments are:
- Public cloud environments are composed of multi-tenant cloud services where a client shares a provider’s servers with other clients, like an office building or coworking space. These are third-party services run by the provider to give clients access via the web.
- Private third-party cloud environments are based on the use of a cloud service that provides the client with exclusive use of their own cloud. These single-tenant environments are normally owned, managed, and operated offsite by an external provider.
- Private in-house cloud environments also composed of single-tenant cloud service servers but operated from their own private data center. In this case, this cloud environment is run by the business themselves to allow full configuration and setup of every element.
- Multi-cloud environments include the use of two or more cloud services from separate providers. These can be any blend of public and/or private cloud services.
- Hybrid cloud environments consist of using a blend of private third-party cloud and/or onsite private cloud data center with one or more public clouds.
By framing it from this perspective, we can understand that cloud-based security can be a bit different based on the type of cloud space users are working in. But the effects are felt by both individual and organizational clients alike.
What are the Benefits of Cloud Security?
1. 24×7 Visibility
The best cloud security solutions like AppTrana enable 24×7 monitoring of the application and cloud-based assets. This helps organizations to have continuous visibility into their risk posture and its impact on the business.
2. Higher Availability
Cloud computing security solutions typically have built-in redundancies to ensure that the application/ resources are always available. The CDNs used have distributed global networks of edge servers that deliver content optimally, accelerate application performance, and minimize access to the server. Together, they handle traffic surges in a way that on-premises/ hardware solutions cannot.
3. Effective protection against DDoS Attacks
Cloud security solutions provide the most effective protection against DDos attack, which are increasing in numbers, magnitude, sophistication, and severity. Cloud computing security helps to continuously monitor, identify, analyze, and mitigate DDoS attacks. The built-in redundancies, customizability, flexibility, scalability, and intelligence of such solutions can prevent volumetric, low, and slow attacks.
4. Data Security
The best cloud computing security solutions provide data security by design. They have security protocols and policies such as strong access controls and data encryption to prevent unauthorized entities from accessing confidential information.
5. Pay as you Go Model
The cloud security model ensures that you pay only for what you use and consume as opposed to making any upfront investment.
6. Advanced Threat Detection
By using end-point scanning and global threat intelligence, cloud computing security can detect threats more easily. This helps in assessing the risks facing the organization’s mission-critical assets vis-à-vis the threat landscape.
7. Regulatory Compliance
Top-notch cloud application security providers help to ensure regulatory standards and industry-specific compliance needs. This is done through its enhanced infrastructure and managed security services.
Even though many organizations continue to believe that on-premise and hardware-based security is more secure, it is quite the opposite. The benefits of cloud security amply highlight how cloud security has an edge over on-premise security. Choose the right cloud security provider to ensure the enhanced security of your cloud-hosted assets.