What Is Cybersecurity? Technology And Data Protection


Cybersecurity is a growing threat, with the World Economic Forum describing it in early 2024 as one of the most pressing issues facing organizations globally in 2024.

According to the Computer Crime Research Center, the global cost of cybercrime is growing rapidly and is predicted to reach over $12 trillion by 2025. Last summer, Checkpoint Research reported that the number of attacks had risen by 8% during 2022, with organizations facing an average of 1,258 incidents per week. And as a result, cybersecurity is becoming an increasing priority for businesses and governments alike. Here is a look at the current major cybersecurity risks and what organizations can do to keep their data safe.

What Is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a pretty broad term: It refers to the practice of protecting computer systems, networks, programs, devices and data from cyber attacks through both technological means and management processes.

Information security, meanwhile, is concerned more specifically with protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data held by an organization. Both usually involve implementing multiple layers of protection, from staff awareness training to identity and access management, threat detection and — for when the worst happens — disaster recovery and business continuity planning.

What Are Different Types Of Cybersecurity?

Network security describes the various methods used to protect networks from breaches and intrusions, usually through the use of access control, network analytics, firewalls, VPN encryption and other techniques. Endpoint security, meanwhile, is focused on the devices hooked up to that network — desktops, laptops, mobile devices and the like.

Application security, as the name implies, concerns the various techniques used to make sure that software applications are secure, with the aim of fixing any vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. This can involve vulnerability scanning during development, continuous security testing once in use, authentication measures and firewalls. Meanwhile, Internet of Things (IoT) security raises a whole new set of issues, thanks to the huge amount of data being collected by an ever-increasing amount of connected IoT hardware, from smart home devices to industrial sensors. Many of these devices have no intrinsic security features of their own, making managing them a significant challenge.

What Are Potential Cybersecurity Threats?

New cybersecurity threats are appearing all the time, but the most widespread danger right now is ransomware: using malware — the generic term for malicious software — to lock up a victim’s data until a fee is paid, usually via Bitcoin

Such data breaches, in which data is copied, stolen or altered by an attacker, can come about in a number of ways. Social engineering attacks involve using psychological tactics to persuade someone to unknowingly divulge information or carry out actions giving the hacker access; so-called “phishing” is a common way of doing this, whereby attackers mimic genuine business contacts or other trustworthy organizations to get the victim to drop their guard. In other cases, the attacker is an insider who already has authorized access. One of the least sophisticated types of attack is the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack in which the attacker aims to paralyse a victim’s website by flooding it with traffic.

What Are Tips To Improve Cybersecurity?

For individuals, the main form of defence is anti-virus software, along with the use of a strong password, backing up data and keeping software and systems up to date. Where possible, using multi-factor authentication — requiring two forms of identification before access is allowed — is also advised.

Organizations, too, should use these techniques, but also need to take a more formal and organizational approach. This should include carrying out risk, vulnerability and impact assessments, conducting regular security audits and training staff. Key data should be encrypted, and access should be limited to those who really need it, with password policies enforced. Cyber insurance is vital. And it’s also important to look at an organization’s supply chain and how its partners handle security, as this can often be a weak link. National organizations such as the U.S.’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are a useful source of advice.

What Companies Are Leading The Cybersecurity Space?

There are thousands of cybersecurity companies worldwide, from industry giants with revenues in the billions to small, specialist outfits. Meanwhile, some major tech vendors, such as IBM
and Microsoft
, have branched out to offer their own solutions.

In no particular order, some of the top cybersecurity firms are:

  • Palo Alto Networks
    : Considered one of the best general cybersecurity firms, and one of the largest
  • Fortinet
    : Specialises in network security for enterprise
  • CrowdStrike
    : Known for endpoint security, along with threat intelligence and cyberattack response services
  • Rapid7: Offers a unified cybersecurity platform, covering endpoint to cloud
  • Cisco: Known for distributed network security, with firewall, endpoint and other solutions
  • Proofpoint
    : Offers cybersecurity solutions for email, web and cloud
  • McAfee: Best-known for anti-virus, protecting from phishing, viruses, hackers, and ransomware
  • IBM: Offers enterprise security including intelligence analysis, fraud protection, mobile and mainframe security
  • Trend Micro: Known for enterprise security, but also popular amongst small businesses
  • Darktrace: A leader in AI-based security, covering prevention, detection, response and recovery
  • Microsoft: As you’d expect, known for Windows security, with offerings for identity and access management, intelligence and analytics and database security

What Is The Future Of Cybersecurity?

For many organizations, cybersecurity has only really become a board-level priority in the last ten or fifteen years as the number and severity of cyber attacks has increased.

Consensus — and industry standards — have started to emerge, with the take-up of strategies such as encryption, multi-factor authentication and zero trust, whereby access to systems and data is tightly controlled through identity verification. Perhaps the biggest change in cybersecurity has been the increasing use of AI — not just by cyber criminals but by defenders as well. AI tools allow millions of events to be analyzed and anomalies spotted, highlighting potential attacks. AI can also be used to provide continuous monitoring, automate security processes such as patch management and help eliminate user error. In the coming years, ransomware attacks are likely to continue increasing in number and severity; meanwhile, AI-generated deepfakes are making it easier for attackers to carry out phishing attacks by convincing victims that they’re talking to a real contact.

Bottom Line

The cyber threat is evolving at an ever-increasing rate, with the emergence of new attack techniques and a constant arms race between bad actors and defenders. However, new tools, in particular the use of AI, are giving organizations a fighting chance.


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