Cyber Security in an Online World
The Importance Of Cyber Security In an Increasingly Online World
In the age of global connectivity, it is more important than ever for governments, businesses, and individual operations to adhere to strict cyber security standards. This is particularly true for industries that provide essential services to municipalities. Cyber security measures need to be in place to keep sensitive data and remote control functionality under lock and key. This helps keep the general public safe and operations running smoothly.
How Does The Internet Operate?
To understand how to properly protect data and its accessibility, we need to first understand how the Internet works. Simply put, the Internet works by connecting different computers and devices in order to send and receive data. Servers, PCs, routers, and other devices are all communicating with each other, sending and receiving information called bits and packets. Individual computers are able to connect to the Internet and access this information from a variety of servers.
Within the Internet, everything is supported by a server. Servers are a type of computer that exists to store and provide information. For example, when you go to a website on your browser, your computer communicates with that website’s server to send packets of data that allow you to access the site.
Servers can be either physical computers that exist onsite, or virtual cloud-based softwares. Typically, using a virtual server is favorable due to the lower overall cost of setup and overall cost of maintenance. With virtual servers, they are managed by an external service so they can provide expert assistance, configuration, and most importantly — keep your information safe and secure.
How Does Information Move Through The Internet?
Bits and Packets
When data is being sent from one computer to another, different bits of information are grouped together in clusters called packets. These packets are then sent from your computer to your router and modem.
Router and Modem
Once information is ready to be sent from your computer to its destination, the multiple different packets hop to your router and modem before then hopping to your local internet service provider via cables.
Local Internet Service Provider
Once the packet has left your modem it travels to your local internet service provider’s server hub. Once the packet reaches your internet service provider their server examines the IP address it’s heading to and then sends it to a long-haul provider.
A long-haul provider is essentially the superhighway of the internet. Once a packet hops to a long-haul provider, they use a border gateway protocol to find the best route across the different networks to send the packet.
Once the long-haul provider has sent the packets, they travel across an array of different regional networks that combine to make up the Internet. These different networks act as different carriers moving the information along a route until it reaches the destination.
Destination Internet Service Provider
Once the packet has made its way through the different networks it arrives at the destination’s internet service provider. From here the server reads the IP address the packet is intended for and sends the packet to the recipient’s IP address.
Once the packet has arrived at its destination the information reassembles itself to produce a website, a message, an image, or more data. Once that packet has been successfully delivered, a message is sent back along the same path confirming the packet has arrived. All of these different steps take place constantly around the world, allowing people to access loads of information within just fractions of a second.
What Are Vulnerabilities In Cyber Security and How Are They Caused?
In cyber security, vulnerabilities refer to weaknesses in a system that can be exploited to gain unauthorized access and perform unauthorized functions within the system. Vulnerabilities are in every computer system and can allow hackers to access information, install malware, and even destroy or alter sensitive data.
Since computer systems are all man made and use a multitude of parts, vulnerabilities can be caused for a variety of reasons. Some systems may be vulnerable for being overly complex, while some systems may use too common of a code that creates obvious opportunities for hackers. Other causes of vulnerabilities include weak passwords, overly connected systems, too much internet usage, and most often people. Typically, the biggest threat to an organization’s cyber security is the person operating the system.
Stats Behind Security Breaches
Some notable statistics from Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation:
- 45% of breaches were from hacking
- 22% involved phishing, which is when a person is contacted by someone posing as a legitimate institution in order to lure them into providing sensitive data
- 17% involved malware, which is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, or network
- Nearly 95% of all security breaches were a direct result of an operator error
- In the first half of 2020, 36 billion documents were released via data breaches
Best Practices For Avoiding a Breach In Cyber Security
Since the people that operate a computer system are often the biggest threat to its security, certain best practices should be upheld to ensure that sensitive data stays secure. Some of the ways you can protect your computer system are:
- Use a two-factor authentication for signing in
- Require complex passwords with numbers & symbols
- Properly manage users who have access to the system
- Avoiding public WiFi as these networks are unsecured
- Consistently audit your server and software
- .doc, .dot, and .exe are often untrustworthy email attachments
By cutting down on the possibility of human error and avoiding dangerous situations, vulnerabilities are much less likely to occur and risks can be mitigated.
When it comes to the security of data and information within your computer system you can never be too careful. Through routine system maintenance, effective user management, and employing best practices for security, you can be sure that your computer system is safe from hackers and your information is secure.