What is Cybersecurity?

Marga Salvador·5 min read

What is Cybersecurity?

In order to be able to understand and practice better cybersecurity, we need to figure out an accurate cybersecurity definition. Generally, “cybersecurity” can be defined as the practices, structures, and programs that protect computer systems and related networks.

These systems include hardware or physical devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, USBs, and external hard drives as well as software or programs such as email, collaboration platforms, video calling, messaging, websites, and the like.

Additionally, cybersecurity is essential for both on online (i.e. connected to the internet) or offline (not connected to the internet) operations. This means that cybersecurity still matters to any person or business even if they’re offline or “off the grid”.

Why Cybersecurity Matters

If you aren’t working with sensitive data or if computers don’t play a big role in your work, you may think cybersecurity isn’t an issue that should concern you. However, the truth is that cybersecurity is an important issue that affects all facets of everyday life on almost every level.

For private individuals, cybersecurity plays a role in ensuring that private communications stay private and hackers aren’t able to break into your social media, online banking, and other accounts.

Here are just some instances where cybersecurity plays a role for private citizens:

  • Video conferencing
  • Emails and instant messaging
  • Online banking and shopping
  • Sharing sensitive media (photos, videos, etc.)
  • Sending files through private links

For small to medium enterprises, cybersecurity is an essential cog in maintaining smooth business operations. From connecting with vendors, leads, and clients to implementing effective workflows and systems, a modern business relies heavily on computer systems. This means that one simple cybersecurity mistake can lead to an information leak or breakdown in protocol that could end your enterprise as well as expose you to lawsuits and other legal liabilities.

For major corporations, cybersecurity is a major concern that affects every position from top to bottom. Proprietary information, industry-relevant data, and sensitive details are major targets for hackers and poor cybersecurity can cost a corporation millions of dollars, whether in stolen assets, lost revenue, or even legal fines.

What are the Consequences of Poor Cybersecurity?

With the unprecedented shift of most workplaces, private communications, and official transactions to online spaces, relying on poor cybersecurity has become more disastrous now than ever before.

When it comes to private individuals, poor cybersecurity can have grave social and financial consequences. Trusting the wrong cloud storage service or having weak passwords can lead to the leak of private messages or sensitive pictures and media to the public. The increase in online banking and shopping has also placed a target on the accounts of private users. Entire bank accounts can be emptied and stolen with a single transaction if your banking information falls into the wrong hands.

When it comes to official business and workplaces, cybersecurity has become a top concern regardless of company size. Online communication and collaboration has become an essential tool for businesses big and small alike. Important meetings, information, and plans are exchanged online everyday and the only thing protecting your company from unscrupulous competitors and malicious 3rd parties is your level of cybersecurity. Communication and data leaks can lead to ruined reputations, fines, and immeasurable loss in revenue.

Cybersecurity Best Practices

Protect yourself against known and unknown cybersecurity threats by employing these simple but effective best practices.

1. Use a VPN Virtual Private Networks (more commonly known as VPNs) are an accessible and easy-to-implement method to protect your data. By using it while connected to the internet, the VPN hides your IP address from prying eyes and possible threats while also ensuring that any data you send while you’re on the VPN is encrypted.

Unfortunately, VPNs still have their limits and are essentially powerless against weak security links such as phishing attacks, poor video call encryption, and sharing data on the cloud.

2. Use a Password Manager Password managers are a service that creates, stores, and automatically fills your passwords for you. By creating strong passwords (i.e. passwords made of a random string of numbers, letters, and special characters) and automatically filling them in for you (on whichever of your devices you install the password procedurally manager on), you are dissuaded from using lazy, easy-to-remember, and ultimately weak passwords. By using unique passwords for each of your accounts, you’ll be able to guarantee that each account is less likely to be compromised even in the event of any one of your accounts being hacked into.

The immediate apprehension that comes with password managers is the fact that it feels less safe to store all of your passwords on one platform, but that hesitation can be mitigated by using a “master password” to your password manager account that you do not use for anything else nor digitally store anywhere else.

3. Practice Two-Factor Authentication Two-factor authentication is a common practice that requires two (or more) instances of proof before allowing access to the user. An easy example would be withdrawing money from an ATM. You need both the correct ATM card (factor #1) and the correct PIN (factor #2) before you can access the account and withdraw any money. By employing two or even mutli-factor authentication, you’re giving your data an effective extra layer of security.

4. Rely Less on Emails When it comes to easy, popular, and convenient ways to communicate and collaborate on the internet, it’s hard to beat email. And though emailing might still do the job when looking for an accessible way to contact someone online, emails have, sadly, not been able to keep up with the evolving communication and security needs of the current-day email user.

With emails being one of the most used services online and with almost everyone having an email address, it then follows that emails are one of the most targeted platforms on the internet. Some of the most iconic viruses and effective malware that plagued the early life of the internet were spread via email. And emails are still plagued by phishing attacks and cyberscams to this day, despite the best efforts of email providers to filter out and block these attempts.

5. Cybersecurity Education Educating both yourself, your colleagues, and clients on cybersecurity goes a long way in making sure that all parties are secure and protected. By investing in seminars and workshops held by online security experts, your company can be equipped with the correct attitude and knowledge that they need to be able to navigate the tricky online work space.

Written byMarga Salvador

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