What is cybersecurity: Everything you need to know
Thanks to digital technology, the world is closely connected in a way unimaginable even a generation ago. Complex international data networks undergird sophisticated media, financial, and logistics channels, and continuous innovation in processing speed and capability means that communication between network nodes has become all but instantaneous.
This is a great thing in many ways, and a worrisome development in at least one: internet-connected systems, no matter their complexity, remain vulnerable to cyberattacks. A cross-continental system, as vulnerable as any other, necessarily has a greater number of weak points the penetration of which can cause a major data breach across a large geographic area.
In short, the world is more unified than ever before — for better and worse.
Ingenious cybercriminals have kept pace with technological advancements. As such, cybersecurity providers need to be inventive, agile, and forward-thinking if they hope to be able to intercept the next generation of cybersecurity threats.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity — also known as information technology (IT) security — refers to the devices and protocols designed expressly to prevent security breaches, damage, or malignant alteration to privately-held data systems.
Such security measures are complex and multi-tiered. An organization’s cybersecurity framework is, traditionally, constructed based on the threats most likely to affect that organization’s particular data and functionality.
But cyberattacks are no longer so predictable. Hospitals are now robbery targets, for instance, with computer-controlled life saving devices frozen and ransomed for data and money. Major credit bureaus have been hacked and millions of social security numbers compromised. As more industries increase their reliance on technology, so does the exposure risk to malicious actors.
To lay out an effective plan to navigate this new landscape, you must first understand the importance of cybersecurity.
Why is cybersecurity important?
Nowadays, systems store massive amounts of highly sensitive data on cloud-based devices that, without proper cybersecurity measures in place, find themselves vulnerable to hackers. IT isn’t the only industry affected by such threats. The medical and financial industries, for example, collect the most sensitive types of data from millions of people and store it presumably under trust. Even national governments, which are responsible for recording and confirming the very existence of citizens, among other things, are vulnerable to hackers in the absence of a sophisticated cybersecurity regime.
Failed cybersecurity ventures have been disastrous. Oil pipelines have been shut down; hospital electric grids held hostage; sensitive information relevant to national security has been obtained, changed, and erased altogether.
It doesn’t necessarily matter if a company stores data on the cloud or on local hardware; so long as it’s internet-connected, intelligent and determined hackers will try to get to it, exploit it, and, in some cases, can successfully elude law enforcement after doing so.
What are the benefits of a good cybersecurity framework?
There are many benefits to developing a good cybersecurity framework:
- Businesses can protect against disturbance and discontinuity. By streamlining and connecting your cybersecurity touchpoints you can build fail-safes into your network.
- Businesses can protect data and networks, as well as endpoint devices and end-users. Helping your customers protect their employees and end-users is essential as cybercriminals frequently target them knowing they aren’t necessarily cybersecurity experts.
- Businesses can prevent unauthorized user access. Automating and streamlining the foreign threat discovery process allows your cybersecurity fail-safes to commence with little to no lag in response time.
- Businesses can enforce regulatory compliance in real-time. Complex monitoring processes are key to helping employees do their part in affecting proper cybersecurity. From the core of your protocol to every end-user, you need to monitor every element of your cybersecurity framework for your protocol to be successful.
Success in all of these will improve consumer confidence in a company's reputation. Failure, however, can potentially tarnish your company’s image — perhaps irreparably.
How does cybersecurity work?
Cybersecurity is a multi-level operation, and effective cybersecurity awareness requires a sophisticated web of techniques and technologies.
The United States government, having decreed that cyberattacks are a major threat to national security, has developed a thorough framework for intercepting cyber threats, the details of which the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published on their website. The NIST offers this list of five continuous, concurrent functions.
Similarly, the government of the UK has issued what it calls Cyber Essentials — its own set of five major protocols recommended to enhance cybersecurity:
- Use a firewall to secure your internet connection.
- Choose the most secure settings for your devices and software.
- Control who has access to your data and services.
- Protect yourself from viruses and other malware.
- Keep your devices and software up to date.
The overall recommendations, wherever they come from, are essentially the same: Automated front- and back-end processes ought to be combined with personal prudence, vigilance, and discretion; every potential attack should be treated credulously, and all measures taken to neutralize them at their earliest arrival.
Contracting a trusted MSP tech service is the best way to make sure such recommendations are implemented thoroughly. You need to work with someone who can not only scale your cybersecurity needs properly but who can monitor, maintain, and, when necessary, alter protocol to offer you the best possible protection against threats.
What tools and services are used in cybersecurity?
A good cybersecurity framework is a highly sophisticated, multi-channel operation. Dimensions of cybersecurity include:
- Application security. New apps are always being developed. Internal testing and user data collection go into what updates are made on what apps — and updates are made nearly constantly.
- Cloud security. The non-centralized data aggregation system known as “the cloud” has sped and eased the data sharing process worldwide. Being decentralized, it is also vulnerable to attack and must be monitored constantly.
- Data security. These days, much of what one can know about a person, organization, publication, system, or anything else that could have a quantitative biography of sorts, is stored on computers.
- Disaster recovery. A natural or man-made disaster may compromise the core of a network while endpoints remain at least minimally usable. Basic security measures such as password protection and two-factor authentication need to be second nature to end-users.
- Endpoint security. Protect endpoints so threats don’t access the main network via remote access points.
- Hardware security. Just because your data is stored on an adjunct piece of hardware doesn’t mean it’s safe from threats. Any device that can connect to the internet is at risk.
- Phone security. Cell phones with internet connectivity present all the problems of larger online networks with the added difficulty of user error.
Automation and machine learning can power the threats to a company’s intranet or portal network or anywhere else they store sensitive data. Artificial intelligence can do this in real-time and is focused on:
- Threat detection and response. AI recognizes, analyzes, and, often, neutralizes threats with a speed human threat monitors can’t attain.
- Human augmentation. AI eliminates the tedious part of the threat detection job, allowing IT professionals to focus on the sophisticated set of tasks machines can’t quite yet learn to do well.
When it comes to putting together the right tools for your clients’ cybersecurity needs, it’s essential that you consider the unique risk factors for their industry as well as an ever-evolving sea of threats. For a deep dive on what’s new and necessary for protecting your clients, watch our Evolving Your Cybersecurity Tech Stack webinar.
What roles support cybersecurity in a company?
Don’t forget: Cybersecurity is a multi-channel operation. Many companies are coming around to the necessity of Security Operations Centers (SOC). SOC cybersecurity is the best way to monitor, respond to, and triage cyber threats. SOCs are staffed around the clock by technical experts who can help mitigate your company’s risk.
What sort of risk, exactly? Following a major data breach, you could be looking at a mass customer exodus; a reputation for unreliability can follow a company for years; there are even legal ramifications for security breaches that can irreparably harm a company. On top of this, the average data breach costs a company $3.86 million.
Your cybersecurity team includes many support roles in addition to SOC agents:
- Chief information security officers (CISO) oversee IT departments and catalyze security programs per your organization’s security requirements.
- Chief security officers (CSO) are responsible for overseeing both cybersecurity and physical security operations. Don’t forget that leaving hardware vulnerable puts you at great risk for security breaches.
- Security engineers focus on IT quality assurance, while security architects design and implement cybersecurity ecosystems.
- Penetration testers are ethical (or “white hat”) hackers who perform preemptive defensive tests of cybersecurity systems. They aim to find weak points in a company’s security infrastructure and address them.
All of these — among any number of cloud security architects, security investigators, cryptographers, and more — are part of a healthy cybersecurity ecosystem.
Cyber threats affect an entire company. A dedicated, knowledgeable support staff is key to making the most of your cybersecurity measures.
Visit ConnectWise and get secured
We are living in a sort of Wild West of cybercrime. But diligent cybersecurity experts are doing what they can to thwart attackers and protect valuable data from malicious actors.
Want to know more? Check out our cybersecurity glossary or contact us to discuss your particular cybersecurity needs with our Security Operations Center. Our fully-staffed professional office offers 24/7 threat detection, utilizing the latest cybersecurity management software.
What are cybersecurity solutions?
Cybersecurity solutions are a variety of technological tools and processes that protect data and systems from cyberattacks. A good cybersecurity system utilizes:
- Automated threat detection
- Threat elimination by both IT professionals and machine learning programs
- End-user education on basic password safety, verification, and safe intranet usage
Your Security Operations Center (SOC) can recommend a cybersecurity framework tailored specifically to your company’s data infrastructure.
How can I keep data safe with cybersecurity?
Data is stored in several places. You need to make sure your cybersecurity is protecting:
- Cloud-based data retention
- Company-specific employee portals.
These are all at risk for cybersecurity breaches. To stay safe, you will want to implement wholescale solutions to address the specific ways in which data security is breached at each of these points. A trusted SOC can implement advanced cybersecurity protocols company-wide, touching everything from cloud storage to the hardware each employee uses. Equally important is having the proper cybersecurity tech stack to power your policies. ConnectWise’s cybersecurity solutions can help MSPs at every step of the way to secure and protect their clients.