What is Cyber Security?
Cyber security, sometimes written as cyber security, is a term that encompasses all processes, technologies, legislation, hardware and procedures used to prevent the unauthorized use of data, networks, and programming. Cyber security means protection from theft of services and information.
Cyber security applies at all levels; From consumer level protection, i.e. securing credit card information as it is processed by a point-of-sale device and passes onto to enterprise level processing systems. This can include protecting thousands of credit card number at financial institutions.
In 2017, the United States handed down the longest sentence ever to an individual hacker who made more than $170 million dollars with stolen credit card data.
Cyber security is not just limited to protecting against credit card misuse and identity theft. It encompasses many types of threats. A threat is any intention to inflict damage, steal data, access without permission or harm IT systems, hardware or software at any level and in any way. A threat may be something as simple as altering the home page of a website without permission. A more serious threat would be stealing the human resources records of all employees at the US Internal Revenue Service.
Types of cyber security threats include:
Any event that could lead to loss or damage to hardware, software, data, or capabilities
- Phishing scams
- Back doors to IT systems, apps, data, etc.…
- Hardware vandalism
Cyber security is also referred to as IT security, computer security, or online security.
As the world becomes more and more connected via the internet, cyber security grows increasingly difficult. It is estimated that there will be over 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020. Many of which are connected to insecure networks, like free public Wi-Fi. Even supposedly, secure devices are at risk from data sniffing by supposedly trusted mobile apps.
Legislation tends to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to anything technology related. The US Federal government IT systems are woefully behind in their own cyber security system updates. Future cyber security legislation supposedly will hold US federal agency managers accountable for data breaches, but the new legislation has yet to be passed. Even if it is signed into law, the budget to upgrade federal IT systems to secure standards is estimated to be in the billions of dollars. Although the government allocates billions of dollars every year to upgrading its technologies, their legacy systems are still outdated.
Other scenarios present issues as well. The advent of smart cities presents another new opportunity for data collection by hackers. Connected medical devices and wearable devices also offer potential back door for hackers.
Proper cyber security also means having the proper procedures and people in place. Even the best hardware systems can be compromised, resulting in data theft if trust is placed in the wrong person.
Cyber security is a global issue. Any one breach in the system – like paying a credit card bill from a corporate tablet while connected to an airport’s public Wi-Fi – can let a hacker in.