Computer viruses, data hacking, network scandals, and other virtual incidents affect not just our information but also our lives in ways that range from a minor irritation to a life-threatening concern. With the focus on technology today, our use of the virtual only continues to rise. From an increase in digital applications to various network databases and even the proliferation of new users, the number of individuals using cyberspace for appropriate purposes isn’t the only factor that’s increasing. The possibility for exploitation is also a concern that is ever growing. So what protection do users have? Cyber security is the sector of technology that focuses on user protection and information security.
The Basics of Cyber Security
Simply put, cyber security is the division of information technology that focuses on protecting computers, networks, programs, and data. This realm of technology protects this information from reaching unintended or unauthorized access and also prevents change of information or destruction.
Cyber security functions to treat and prevent threats from a variety of different locations. Different systems have been established to combat potential threats ranging from general use of the internet, email and communication, mobile devices, software and applications, and more. Essentially any time you are connected to a network, your information or even your identity could be compromised.
The Risks Involved
Unfortunately, there are numerous risks involved with cyber security. Any of the systems you use on a regular basis that are connected to a computer or the internet put you at risk. These include email, cellphones, digital cable, car engine systems, car and airplane navigation systems, online stores, credit cards, medical equipment and records…
The risks vary by system and in intensity, but any compromise of your privacy is a safety concern. Among the currently known security concerns are viruses that can erase your computer system, a hacker using your computer system to hack others, an individual stealing your credit card information, and more. Unfortunately as the available protection systems become more complex, so do the ways hackers can breach security.
The Importance of Cyber Security
So what makes cyber security so important? The vast majority of companies today are storing more and more information on computer databases. Not only is your information at risk when you personally connect to the internet or make a purchase with your credit, but it is also at risk of breach almost any time of the day. The government, military, financial institutions, various corporations, hospitals, and a variety of other businesses process and store your information on their network. While sophisticated security tactics are employed by these organization, there is no way to guarantee that your information is always secure.
Because of the risk, cyber security is an ongoing process. Security systems are constantly updated in an attempt to thwart the growing volume and complexity of cyber-attacks.
While cyber threats are constantly growing, there are a few steps you can take to help minimize your risk. Understanding the potential threat is one of the very first steps you can take to protect yourself and your information. Familiarizing yourself with the common terms associated with cyber threats is an important preventative measure.
- Hacker, intruder, attacker – These are all terms used to describe the people who seek to take advantage of weaknesses in software and computer systems for their own personal gain. These individuals’’ motives may range anywhere from mere curiosity, such as creating a virus with no intended negative impact, to malice, stealing or altering information.
- Malicious code – Also known as malware, this term names a broad category of software that includes any type of code intended to attack your computer. Malicious code often has a number of common characteristics, including an email attachment or link, a weakness in a common software, or software that claims to be beneficial when in reality it is only sending your information to a remote intruder.
- Vulnerability – A vulnerability is any issue in your system or software that puts you at risk of being compromised. Attackers are often able to take advantage of errors in your computer’s programming or software to infect your computer.
In addition to knowing the terminology, there are a few other things you can do to protect you and your information.
- Change your passwords frequently.
- Make sure your antivirus software and firewalls are up-to-date.
- Back up important files stored on your computer. Copy them to a disk or flash drive, and store them in a safe place.
- Regularly review cyber security tips yourself and with anyone else who regularly uses your computer.
Cyber Security Careers
If you are interested in going beyond understanding the basics of cyber security and you already have a good understanding of security fields, you may be interested in a career that involves virtual protection. The cyber security field is one that is constantly growing. There is always a need for more professionals in this field, and there are a number of different types of jobs in the field.
Some of the most common cyber security careers include:
- Chief Information Security Officer
- Computer Crime Investigator
- Forensics Expert
- Incident Responder
- Information Assurance Analyst
- Network Security Engineer
- Security Architect
- Security Consultant
- Source Code Auditor
- Virus Technician
- Vulnerability Assess
The list of careers in the field goes on and on.
The Work Environment
Jobs in the cyber security field offer a unique work environment. While the workload is relatively steady on a normal basis, in the event of a crisis, responsibilities generally skyrocket.
Individuals in the field must be able to respond quickly and effectively to crisis situations as soon as a threat is detected. Individuals in the workforce must also be able to maintain high performance for an extended period of time during these surges in workload.
For that reason, the work environment can be relatively stressful. Individuals in the field may also find the long hours working on a computer or at a desk taxing depending on their mental and physical state.
While the field of cyber security can be a trying one, it is also one of the most valuable assets available today. Without cyber security we would all be at even more risk for having our sensitive information compromised.