Cyber security is the protection of information systems including software, hardware and information (data).
Primarily you need to be cyber secure to protect systems and data from unintended or unauthorised access, change or destruction. It is of increasing importance because of the reliance of computer systems in society and the amount of personal data that is being created, stored and shared in our ever connected world.
Living in this new connected world has been underpinned by the growth of "smart" devices, including phones, wearable tech, smart televisions, and even smart cars in the ‘Internet of Things’ era. This has led to a significant increase in the information that is shared over the Internet and private data networks, but also via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other wireless networks.
What is Cyber Crime?
Cyber crime encompasses any criminal act conducted through computers, networks and the Internet. Organised cyber criminals have been quick to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Internet, particularly with the growth in e-commerce and online banking and cyber crime is increasingly simple and cheap to commit. Cyber criminals can even buy off-the shelf hacking software, complete with support services and as technology rapidly changes our world, the world of cyber crime never stops innovating either.
Threats and vulnerabilities
What are the targets of cyber attacks?
Cyber attacks target you to gain access to personal information or intellectual property. All types of online crime continue to grow with hackers and organisations become more sophisticated in the way they illegally access information.
Watch the video below for some simple tips to safeguard your online identity:
In order to protect yourself, your family, and your organisation against the many threats online, it is important to understand these types of threats and attacks. For clarification, a threat is what might happen; and an attack is the execution of a threat.
There are a number of key threats that you need to be aware of. They are outlined below.
Hackers exploit weaknesses and vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. They can be may be motivated by various reasons including financial gain, protest or simply the challenge of trying to beat a system.
There have been a number of prominent data hacks in the news headlines in the recent past including the TalkTalk hack in October 2015, reported on BBC Business News, where an estimated 157,000 customer records were accessed including personal details, and in some cases, bank account numbers and sort codes.
Phishing is a technique regularly used by cyber criminals because it's easy to execute and can produce results with very little effort. Fake emails, text messages and websites are created to impersonate authentic companies. They're sent to huge numbers of unsuspecting consumers with the intention of tricking people into providing personal information such as usernames and passwords or bank details. These details are then used to commit identity theft or bank fraud.
Cyber criminals use malicious software to infect your computer including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware. According to getcybersafe.co.uk, once a computer has been infected malware can perform a number of actions:
Intimidate users with scareware, for example a pop-up message that tells you your computer has a problem that can only be solved if you pay a fee.
Steal personal and sensitive data from your computer.
Send emails pretending to be from you – often spreading the malware to other people you know.
Denial of service
A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is an attempt to render a computer or network incapable of providing normal services to its customers or users. For example, bringing an ecommerce website down to prevent or disrupt an organisation from conducting its usual business.
DoS attacks often target websites and services offered by large brands and organisations such as banks, high street retailers and credit card payment gateways, however, small and medium sized businesses are increasing being targeted by cyber criminals too.
Why do I need to be aware of cyber security?
Do I need to be aware of cyber security?
Having understood what is meant by cyber security, cyber crime and threats you should now know why you need to be aware of it both at home and in the workplace.
The Internet brings huge opportunities and benefits to businesses, but it also brings risks. Cyber attacks happen to UK companies every day in an attempt to steal information, money or simply just to disrupt a business.
Information is a business asset that can take many forms, including client lists, customer and financial details and key business information. This information is at risk whether held on your own systems and devices or in the cloud.
Businesses need to find a way to manage these risks to take advantage of the Internet whilst protecting themselves. Understanding the risks and managing them will help to ensure all aspects of a business are protected against online threats.