Cybersecurity is the process of protecting computer systems, networks, devices, and sensitive data from cyberattacks, data breaches, and unauthorized access. Cybersecurity is also known as information security, data security, or IT security.

What are the different types of cybersecurity?

  • Application security: Making applications more secure by finding and patching any vulnerabilities. Hackers can exploit compromised applications to infiltrate computer networks and steal sensitive corporate data.
  • Network security: Securing corporate networks against unauthorized intrusions by, for example, using antivirus software and firewalls to monitor for cybersecurity threats.
  • Operational security: The risk management processes for protecting data assets, including customer and employee personal information, product research, intellectual property, and financial statements. Operational security consists of identifying critical corporate data, determining the threats to that critical information, analyzing the vulnerabilities, assessing the threat level of those risks, and implementing a plan to mitigate the risks.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity: Implementing a disaster recovery plan to determine how to restore normal operations after a cyberattack. Also, implementing a plan to assure processes can continue in the event of a cyberattack or data breach.

What cybersecurity threats exist?

Cybersecurity programs act to thwart all types of cyber threats and information security threats, including:

  • Malware: Malicious software installed by cybercriminals to damage a computer, server, system, or network.
  • Phishing attacks: When a cybercriminal sends email messages containing phony links or files in attachments that, when opened, install malware. “Smishing” attacks do the same using text or SMS messages. “Vishing” or “voice phishing” (also known as “scam calls”) attempts to get credit card data and other personal information on voice calls.
  • Spear phishing: The same as above, except much more finely targeted at the specific users who are authorized to the access level cyber attackers want. 
  • Ransomware: A type of malware that freezes or locks user access to systems, networks, devices, or data until the victim user pays a ransom. Even after paying, victims of ransomware often find they still can’t access their information systems and more threats follow. 
  • Social engineering: Using social media to trick people into breaking normal security practices and giving up sensitive data. In a larger corporation, social engineering can also take the form of an unauthorized user pretending to be a coworker (say, from the IT department) trying to get access to passwords or accounts. 
  • Trojan horse: Malicious code that looks legitimate and therefore helps the cybercriminal gain access; but when executed, a Trojan horse can take control of computers and mobile devices. Trojans are used in ransomware attacks.
  • Emotet: A specific type of Trojan horse that downloads or deposits other, often more destructive Trojan horses, once the original emotet is inside your computer system. 
  • Spyware: Malware that lives covertly in hard drives and transmits data to an outside location.
  • Man in the Middle (MITM): This type of cybersecurity attack happens when a hacker gains access to a two-party transaction which is presumed secure. Public and unsecured wi-fi systems are especially vulnerable to this intrusion. The cyberattack itself can go either way: attack the host of the wi-fi, or the device trying to connect to the unsecured wi-fi.
  • Advanced persistent threats (APT): A type of cybercrime, usually against high-value targets such as corporations and governments, that takes place over time, in escalating stages.
  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks: Attempts to overwhelm and disrupt a system by flooding it with traffic.
  • Smurf attack: Using IP-directed broadcast and a specific type of spoofing, this attack also aims to flood the computer system with traffic. 
  • Adware: A type of malware that downloads itself through phony advertisements or fake newsletter subscription offers. 
  • SQL Injection: This attack inserts a piece of Structured Query Language (SQL) into a server. That malicious code then makes the server perform unintended functions, such as releasing sensitive information or allowing easy access where two-factor authentication was previously required. 
  • Rogue software: Software that purports to be anti-malware or some other form of security software, yet is actually malware. Victims voluntarily download rogue software after malicious actors have used “scareware” to falsely warn them that their computer contains a virus. Scammers convince computer owners that the rogue software will protect against a variety of cyberthreats, when in reality it does the opposite. 
  • Password attacks: These cyberattacks can use phishing or social engineering to trick employees into handing over otherwise strong passwords; or they can consist of fully automated attacks that generate endless and random user ID-password combinations until one attempt gains access. 
  • Drive-by attack: Malware is often distributed via drive-by attacks which deposit a piece of code into unsecured websites. Web browsers or webpages that aren’t properly updated are especially vulnerable to these attacks. 
  • Viruses: Many types of viruses exist. Some target specific applications, such as Microsoft 360. Others infect files so that when the file is opened, the virus is released. 
  • Worms: These are not viruses because they don’t need existing files to spread across your computer system; they spread by themselves. 
  • Cloud computing attacks: As more companies rely on the cloud (by some estimates cloud use is up by 50 percent, partly due to employees working from home because of COVID) cloud attacks are a newer way of compromising your data. 

What is the connection between cybersecurity and risk management?

Cybersecurity and risk management should go hand-in-hand because cybercrime tactics change constantly. Cybersecurity considers short-term dangers, while risk management weighs risks over time. A good risk management solution will connect these two disciplines and illuminate where security measures should be updated to keep important data safe. 

Because cybersecurity is a journey rather than a destination, every organization needs a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. That strategy should include measures and best practices such as: 

  • Requiring strong passwords.
  • Using multi-factor authentication.
  • Restricting access to information on a “need-to-know” basis.
  • Installing and properly updating anti-virus software.
  • Requiring security on internet-of-things devices.
  • Using cloud security tools for data protection and preventing data loss in the cloud.
  • Conducting regular, frequent security risk assessments and penetration testing.
  • Staying in compliance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, cybersecurity framework or the newer, more secure Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) developed by the U.S. Department of Defense.  
  • Using cybersecurity solutions to monitor, sound alerts, and block cyberattacks in real-time. Cybercriminals don’t take the weekend off; neither should your computer security systems. 
  • Requiring security awareness training for employees and contractors before they can access the corporate network.

Automation is quickly becoming a reliable and flexible cybersecurity tool. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming faster and more effective at analyzing data and responding nimbly for maximum protection from cybersecurity breaches. 

As you grow your business and link with contractors and other businesses, it may seem overwhelming to keep up to date on the many threats to your computer systems. 

Get the best cybersecurity solution for your company. 

At Reciprocity, a team of cyber security professionals is always looking out for you and your assets, making sure you get the best protection against security breaches and cyberattacks. 

ZenGRC works in tandem with governance, risk management and ever-changing compliance demands to keep you up to date and safe. 

ZenGRC’s compliance, risk, and workflow management software is an intuitive, easy-to-understand platform that not only keeps track of your workflow, but also lets you find areas of high risk before that risk has manifested as a real threat. 

Worry-free compliance management is the Zen way. For more information on how ZenGRC can help your organization, contact us for a demo.