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Fundamentals of Cybersecurity [The Basics Guide]

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15th Sep, 2023
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    Fundamentals of Cybersecurity [The Basics Guide]

    As the digital era has gifted us a massive technological innovation, organizations and companies have spent the past several decades aggressively increasing their online presence to reach new customers and grow their digital presence. It is not surprising, then, that cybercrime also escalated simultaneously. The omnipresence of the internet and growing access to it have made it easier than ever before for cybercriminals to target businesses and gain access to personal information about their customers or employees.

    The concept of computer security is no longer limited to only safeguarding electronic devices against external threats. To prevent unauthorized credentials of an organization's network, it must also ensure the security of its network. No matter what field you operate in or how secure your data is, there will always be online threats that can put your company’s information at risk.

    In addition, physical security is also crucial, such as protecting hardware data from events or actions that can cause serious damage to an organization, such as natural disasters, burglaries, floods, theft, fires, vandalism, and many others.

    Learning about basic concepts of cybersecurity helps equip individuals with the knowledge they need to safeguard their networks from potential attacks and safely maintain privileged user access. In addition, it is highly beneficial to learn the best online Cybersecurity certificate programs.

    History of Cyberthreats Explained  

    There has been a turbulent history of cyber threats. It was challenging to carry out a cyberattack in an era when technology was limited. Only a few people knew how to operate the giant electronic machines, which weren't networked, therefore, it was virtually not hackable.

    John von Neumann proposed storing the program instructions in the same memory as the data in 1945. Stored programs made it easier for computers to reprogram and complete the fetch-decode-execute cycle (FDE). This idea is often called ‘Von Neumann’ architecture.

    In the late 1950s, phone phreaking—hijacking the phone protocols that enabled the ‘phreaks’ to work remotely on the network without contacting the telecom engineering to make free calls and avoid paying for long-distance calls got popular. Unfortunately, the phone companies could not control the phreaks due to limited sources and eventually, phone phreaking faded in the 1980s.

    In 1979, Kevin Mitnick made copies of the operating systems developed by the Digital Equipment Corporation using the Ark computer. In the following decades, he committed several cyberattacks that led to his arrest and imprisonment. Currently, he serves as the CEO and founder of Mitnick Security Consulting. Since this field has such a rich history, it's not surprising that people are concerned about the recent developments  since hackers can easily penetrate increasingly robust security software.

    Why is Cybersecurity Critical?  

    Cybersecurity is a fast-evolving field that continually poses new challenges for companies, government agencies, and individuals. While some may assume that cybersecurity means protecting computers from viruses and other types of malware using anti-virus software or other security programs, this is only one aspect of the subject. 

    It is more common than ever for data breaches and cyberattacks to occur. They’re no longer limited to large corporations with vast resources and sophisticated information security practices. Today, smaller businesses and those operating online marketplace sites or other e-commerce services are also at risk.

    It takes one mischievous user with access to a computer or mobile device to break into an organization’s network, steal confidential information, cause damage and result in lost revenue and penalties for failing to safeguard assets. They can also expose companies to liability risks. Thus, every organization must understand the basics of information security and why it’s essential for their business.

    The excellent accessibility of cloud computing also makes it a popular choice for many companies, which can access information anywhere, anytime, and from any location.

    There are, however, some risks associated with cloud computing, such as the fact that few services are available in the public domain, and third parties can access these services. Therefore, hackers may be able to hack these services easily. In addition, cloud computing also poses a severe security risk of account hijacking. When information in cloud accounts such as email, bank, social media, etc., is not password protected, it becomes vulnerable, and hackers can access it to perform unauthorized activities.

    Important Cybersecurity Fundamentals  

    The IT Security Fundamentals skill path includes an understanding of computer hardware, software, and network security. The cybersecurity fundamentals course trains you in developing and implementing security solutions for small and large organizations, protecting systems and network infrastructures.

    Four Fundamentals of Cybersecurity

    1. Device Protection

    With the rise in cyber threats, individuals and companies should prioritize device protection. It is crucial to protect devices that connect to the internet using anti-virus software, enables the lock-and-erase options, activate two-factor authentication, and perform a regular automatic update of the system software, whether they are laptops, PCs, mobile phones, AI-based devices (Alexa, smart watches, etc.), iPads, tables, or any device that connects to the internet. Device protection will significantly reduce the risk of attacks on individuals and their devices regardless of their location.

    2. Securing Online Connection 

    Once an individual device is connected online, information transmitted over the Internet requires more defenses. Furthermore, one should use VPNs: Virtual Private Networks as they automatically encrypt internet traffic. By using a VPN, all online transactions are secured, including the user’s identity, location, browsing details, and any sensitive information such as passwords and bank details.

    3. Securing Email Communication 

    Cybercriminals often use email to gather sensitive information about individuals or companies. It is highly recommended to encrypt emails to prevent sensitive data from being accessed by anyone other than the intended recipient since they mask the original information. In addition, email encryption often includes one-time password authentication.

    4. Protecting and Performing Timely Backups of Files and Documents 

    Backups fall into two categories: Remote backups (offline) and cloud storage (online). Solutions differ in their advantages and disadvantages.

    Remote backup services are convenient and inexpensive, but it is not easily accessible from anywhere. Alternatively, cloud solutions can be accessed from anywhere and are suitable for an organization that operates from different locations.

    However, one must ensure that critical documents should have their own digital vault with encryption codes, as anything connected to the internet has a cyber threat risk.

    Cyber threats can, however, affect anything connected to the internet. With a database and infrastructure security management system, the cloud computing solution is highly secure, with strong network security, application security, and cloud security. Additionally, strong mobile security enhances cloud computing security.

    By implementing a BCDR plan, an organization can recover quickly from unforeseen cloud security situations such as natural disasters, power outages, team member negligence, hardware failure, and cyberattacks, allowing routine operations to resume in less time. Moreover, identity management frameworks provide endpoint security and data security at the highest level.

    Key Concept of Cybersecurity 

    Cybersecurity refers to protecting systems, networks, programs, devices, and data from cyber-attacks using technologies, processes, and controls. The basic cybersecurity concepts involve reducing cyber-attack risks and preventing unauthorized access to systems, networks, and technologies.

    Five Primary Key Concepts of Cybersecurity  

    • Threat identification 
    • Keeping information safe 
    • Detecting intrusions and attacks 
    • Respond to intrusions and attacks. 
    • Rebuild intrusion defenses and recover database security.

    Basic Terminologies of Cyber Security  

    Cybersecurity basics for beginners should include these terminologies. Knowing the cybersecurity basics terminology will help you better understand the high-tech world. However, technological advances in cybersecurity are accompanied by the emergence of new jargon.

    1. Internet Protocol (IP) Address 

    Hardware devices on a network are identified by IP addresses (Internet Protocol addresses). On a local network or over the internet, these devices can communicate with each other and transfer data. Numbers are separated by periods in each address. It comprises four digits with a range of 0 to 255. An IP address might look like this: 192.159.1.98 

    Internet computers, routers, and websites need billions of unique IP addresses to be identified as one cannot repeat them. IPv6 is a new protocol designed to meet the day's needs when the system runs out of unique addresses in the future. 

    2. VPN - Virtual Private Network 

    Virtual Private Network, popularly known as VPN, allows users to maintain their privacy and anonymity while browsing the internet. VPNs make online activities virtually untraceable by masking the internet protocol (IP) address.

    In addition to providing greater privacy than secured Wi-Fi hotspots, VPN services establish secure and highly encrypted connections. With a VPN, online activity is hidden from cybercriminals, businesses, governments, and other snoopers who tend to lure users into clicking on anonymous links. 

    3. Firewall 

    A firewall monitors and filters the system's incoming and outgoing network traffic as per a company’s security policies. Firewalls are a barrier between a private internal network and the Internet at its primary level. A firewall blocks virtual traffic, which looks destructive, and allows secure and non-threatening traffic to flow uninterrupted. 

    4. Domain Name Server (DNS) 

    DNS - Domain Name Server operates as the internet’s virtual phone book. As every browser on the internet is known by its IP address which allows users to locate the device, the DNS converts the domain name into an IP address. For instance, the DNS converts the URL of www.mycompany123.com to a numerical IP address 204.0.6.42. Browsers send data to the origin servers on the content delivery network (CDN) using the IP address found by DNS servers. 

    5. Encryption and Decryption 

    Encryption is a process of converting plain text (readable message) into codes using an encryption algorithm known as ciphertext. While, Decryption is a process of converting the ciphertext into plain text. 

    6. Encryption Key 

    Data that is encrypted is decrypted and unscrambled using an encryption key. Keys are unique and complex to replicate since they are associated with specific encryption codes. 

    In addition, here are the top 50 cybersecurity terms you should learn to become a pro in cybersecurity. 

    Common Types of Cyber Attacks  

    The world today is plagued by a variety of cyberattacks. However, our networks and systems are better protected if we know the types of cyberattacks. Here are the five most common types of cyberattacks: 

    1. Malware Attack 

    • Virus: A virus is a type of malware that can infect all the files on the network, which is one of the most challenging types to eliminate. A computer virus can replicate itself by inserting its malicious code into other programs. 
    • Worm: Have the power to infect the entire network quickly and require no end-user involvement as the worms can self-replicate. 
    • Trojan: One of the most challenging types of malware to detect is Trojan malware, as it disguises itself as a legitimate program. As soon as the victim executes the malicious code and instructions, the malware can function independently. It is often used as an entry point for other forms of malware. 
    • Adware: End-users are served unwanted advertising (for instance, contact pop-ups) by adware. 
    • Spyware: This type of malware collects sensitive data like user ids and passwords without suspecting the end-user. 
    • Ransomware: Known as one of the most dangerous types of malware attack that infects the system, encrypting files and holding onto the encryption key until the victim pays a ransom. The ransom is mainly in the form of cryptocurrency with a P2P network. Increasingly, organizations are being attacked by ransomware that costs them millions to restore vital systems as they pay off the attackers to recover them. There are several ransomware families, but CryptoLocker, Petya, and Locky are the most recognized ones. 

    2. Password Attack 

    Password attacks most commonly cause data breaches. To gain access to user accounts, the hacker tries to bypass the authentication. 

    3. Phishing Attack 

    The hacker can steal user data through phishing attacks, including login credentials, bank account details, and credit card numbers. Attackers use disguises to trick victims into opening emails, instant messages, or text messages that appear to come from trusted entities. After the recipient clicks a malicious link, sensitive information is revealed, and malware is installed. 

    4. Clickjacking 

    In clickjacking, the attacker usually uses some sort of ad online to lure the user. They are tricking a user into clicking on buttons or links that open to another page that installs malware into the user's system. 

    The Adobe Flash plugin settings page is one of the most scandalous examples of clickjacking. This page could be loaded into an invisible iframe and enable an attacker to manipulate the security settings in Flash, allowing the computer’s microphone and camera to be used remotely by Flash animations. 

    5. Cryptocurrency Hijacking 

    Cryptocurrency hijacking is a new cyber-attack that grew rigorously after the cryptocurrency was introduced widely. Attackers use cryptojacking to mine cryptocurrency on someone else’s computer.

    During the attack, the attacker gains access to the user's computer by infecting their system or manipulating them to click on malicious links. In most cases, the users are unaware of this since the Crypto Mining code works in the background, and the only indication that something is wrong is a delay in the execution.

    Cyber Security Job Roles  

    1. Network Security Engineer 

    Every organization needs a network security engineer to ensure security systems are in place to stop and counter threats. In addition, Network Security engineers are also responsible for systems maintenance, vulnerability identification, and automation of the system. The engineers also oversee the maintenance of routers, firewalls, switches, and VPNs (virtual private networks). 

    2. Cybersecurity Analyst 

    Security measures and controls are planned, implemented, and upgraded by a cybersecurity analyst. Security audits are conducted internally and externally to ensure no loopholes or security lapses. In addition to conducting vulnerability testing, risk analyses, and security assessments, a cybersecurity analyst is also responsible for managing the network. The analyst also trains colleagues in security awareness and procedures to prevent security breaches.

    3. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) 

    In an organization, the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) ensures that cybersecurity plans are aligned with the business’s vision, operations, and technologies. Security-related processes are also developed, implemented, and maintained by CISOs in collaboration with their staff.

    4. Ethical Hackers 

    Due to the intuitive knowledge and skills, they possess, ethical hackers are a valuable resource for organizations. They tested and picked apart to reveal vulnerabilities. Additionally, ethical hackers provide high-level cyberattack prevention information that is gaining momentum in the market. 

    5. Cloud Security Engineer 

    An organization’s cloud-based networks and systems are built and maintained by a cloud security engineer. They manage the organization’s cloud computing environments, core infrastructure, and software platforms. In addition to providing security recommendations, they also offer advice on designing and developing secure applications.

    Cybersecurity Best Practices  

    Cyberattacks can be challenging, and keeping up with cybercriminals who constantly seek out innovative methods of exposing security risks is tough. However, one can still prevent cyberattacks in some ways:

    1. Updating the Software Regularly

    A typical software update includes updated features, bug fixes, and security updates. It is always a good idea to update your software to the latest version to ensure your safety.

    2. Making Sure the Computer is Protected from Viruses and Malware

    You can’t be entirely protected from malware as long as you’re connected to the internet. The vulnerability of your computer will be significantly reduced if you install an anti-virus program and at least one anti-malware program.

    3. Set up 2-factor Authentication

    In addition, web security is strengthened by two-factor authentication because it eliminates the risk of a compromised password immediately. Two-factor authentication is now available on several platforms to keep your accounts safer.

    4. Protect your Connections with a VPN

    Use a virtual private network (VPN) for a more secure web. Even your internet service provider won’t be able to have a glimpse of your confidential information because VPN will encrypt the connection.

    5. Being Careful While Clicking on Links

    Whenever you click on random hyperlink messages, make sure you double-check their legitimacy since links can easily be masked as something they are not.

    6. Make Sure Bluetooth is Disabled When Not in Use

    Hackers can steal your private information via Bluetooth if your devices are on. If you aren't using Bluetooth, please do turn it off.

    7. Delete Adware on your Computer

    You will receive more targeted ads via adware as it collects information about you. To maintain your privacy, keep your computer free of adware and install an ad blocker.

    8. Upgrade your Security System 

    Make sure to invest in a good security system and upgrades when they are available. Investing in high-grade security is better than paying a huge amount for security breaches.

    9. Virus Scan External Storage Devices

    In addition to internal storage devices, external storage devices can also be exposed to malware. Infected external devices can spread malware to your computer if you connect them. Therefore, before accessing external devices, scan the device to ensure they are malware-free.

    10. Ensure Critical Data is Backed Up

    Sensitive information can be lost as a result of security breaches. Highly advisable to take back up of your critical data to the cloud or a local storage device frequently to ensure you are prepared to restore it in the event of a loss. In addition, ensure you store the sensitive files with password protected system.

    Cybersecurity Certifications  

    In addition to having a bachelor’s degree in computer science, most cybersecurity professionals also need to have certifications that prove their knowledge of best practices. From entry-level to advanced, hundreds of certifications are available. Therefore, finding a certificate that will give you a competitive advantage is crucial before you spend your money and time on it.

    The following are the top three cybersecurity certifications that offer best practices in the industry: 

    1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) 

    Undoubtedly, CISSP certification is one of the most sought-after credentials in the cybersecurity industry, awarded by the cybersecurity professional organization (ISC)2. CISSP certification shows you are knowledgeable about IT security and capable of designing, implementing, monitoring, and maintaining cybersecurity programs. 

    2. ISACA CSX Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate 

    With the ISACA cybersecurity fundamentals certificate, individuals can learn advanced technology and develop their best skills. In addition, the course allows you to demonstrate real-life skills and experience through CSX’s performance-based certification and certificate programs.

    CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) grant intermediate to advanced credentials and are among the long-running ISACA certifications in the security industry.

    3. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) 

    It involves lawfully hacking organizations to find vulnerabilities before malicious players do, a practice known as ethical hacking, also known as white hat hacking, penetration testing, or red teams. EC-Council offers this certification as part of its CEH program. 

    Learn the best Ethical Hacking Certification course, and you will be able to demonstrate your ability to conduct penetration testing, detect, vector, and prevent attacks.

    Unlock your potential with ITIL 4 Foundation Certification. Gain the skills and knowledge to excel in the ever-evolving IT industry. Enroll now!

    Conclusion

    Businesses of all sizes are becoming increasingly concerned about cybersecurity, which is a rapidly growing field. While cyberattacks may seem like science fiction movies, the reality is that they are becoming common. Moreover, cybercrimes will only increase over the next few years. A cybersecurity breach can happen anywhere.

    Explore KnowledgeHut’s best online Cybersecurity Certificate programs and learn how you can start cost-effectively creating a robust cybersecurity program.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What are the four cybersecurity protocols?

    The four cybersecurity protocols are access control, authentication, information protection, and automated monitoring. 

    2How do I start learning cybersecurity?

    Learning about cybersecurity’s areas of specialization in which you are interested, looking for resources, and creating a learning plan is crucial to pursuing a career in cybersecurity.

    3What should I learn before cybersecurity?

    The first requirement for starting a career in cybersecurity is having a computer and an in-depth understanding of networking. 

    4What skills are needed for cybersecurity?

    To be a successful cybersecurity professional, you need to have a wide range of skills, including Networking and System Administration, Network Security Control, Operating Systems & Virtual Machines, Coding, and The Internet of Things (IoT). 

    5How do I create a cybersecurity plan?

    The software should be updated regularly, anti-malware software should be installed, a firewall should be erected, wireless networks should be secured, strong passwords should be used, and back-ups should be performed regularly. 

    Profile

    Shweta Lakhwani

    Author

    Shweta Lakhwani runs a travel business - "Voyage Planner" based in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), India. In addition, she is a freelance writer and wins her clients with her creative writing skill. She creates content on various topics such as travel, entertainment, self-help, science, education, information technology (IT), cryptocurrency, insurance, medical, real estate, personal growth, business development, health care, and lifestyle. She is also a Brand Ambassador at the Isla Ida Bracelet and a partner at the Eden Reforestation Projects. She advocates free and life-changing travel experiences while positively influencing the planet.

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