What is Cyber Security?

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Cyber security matters

In today’s digital age, cyber security has become a critical concern for individuals and organisations. With cyberattacks on the rise and the potential for devastating consequences, it is essential to understand the key elements of cyber security and how they can help protect your digital assets. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fundamental aspects, from its definition and importance to the different domains and common threats.

Defining cyber security?

Cyber security refers to the measures, technologies, and practices implemented to prevent cyberattacks or mitigate their impact. It protects systems, applications, computing devices, sensitive data, and financial assets against various threats, from simple computer viruses to sophisticated ransomware attacks. The goal of cyber security is to safeguard individuals and organisations from the disruptive and damaging consequences of cybercrimes.

The importance of cyber security 2023 Cost of a Data Breach

In today’s interconnected world, cyberattacks have the potential to disrupt, damage, or even destroy businesses. The financial cost of data breaches and ransomware attacks continues to rise, with the average cost of a data breach reaching USD 4.45 million in 2023.

Additionally, cybercrime is projected to cost the world economy USD 10.5 trillion annually by 2025. The increasing adoption of cloud computing, remote work, and connected devices has created more opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities.

To address these risks, organisations must prioritise cyber security and develop comprehensive strategies that leverage advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation.

You can read the highlights of the Cost of a Data Breach Report here.

The different types of cyber security

Connected suppilers in ecosystem for cyber security

Supply Chain Security

Supply chain cyber risk is a critical concern for organisations in today’s interconnected digital landscape. Third-party cyber threats, often stemming from suppliers, vendors, or service providers, can introduce vulnerabilities into an organisation’s network and data security. These threats may manifest in the form of data breaches, malware infections, or other malicious activities that can have cascading effects throughout the supply chain.

Network Security

Network security aims to prevent unauthorised access to network resources and detect and stop cyberattacks in progress. It ensures that authorised users have secure access to the network resources they need while thwarting potential threats. Network security measures include firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and virtual private networks (VPNs).

Endpoint Security

Endpoints, such as servers, desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, are often the primary entry points for cyberattacks. Endpoint security focuses on protecting these devices and their users from attacks. It also safeguards the network from adversaries who exploit endpoints to launch attacks. Endpoint security solutions include antivirus software, encryption, and secure configuration management.

Application Security

Application security is concerned with protecting applications running on-premises and in the cloud. It aims to prevent unauthorised access to and use of applications and the data they handle. Application security also involves identifying and addressing vulnerabilities or flaws in application design that hackers could exploit. Modern application development methods, such as DevOps and DevSecOps, integrate security and security testing throughout the development process.

Cloud Security

Cloud security is crucial for organisations that rely on cloud-based services and assets. It encompasses the protection of applications, data, storage, development tools, and virtual servers hosted in the cloud. Cloud security operates on a shared responsibility model, where the cloud provider is responsible for securing the services they deliver and the infrastructure used, while the customer is responsible for protecting their data, code, and other assets stored or run in the cloud.

Information Security

Information security, also known as InfoSec, focuses on protecting an organisation’s important information. It covers digital files, data, paper documents, physical media, and even human speech. Data security, a subset of information security, specifically addresses the protection of digital information. InfoSec measures include access controls, encryption, and data loss prevention.

Mobile Security

Mobile security deals with the unique challenges and threats associated with smartphones and mobile devices. It encompasses disciplines such as mobile application management (MAM), enterprise mobility management (EMM), and unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions. Mobile security ensures the secure configuration, management, and protection of mobile devices, apps, content, and data.

Critical Infrastructure Security

Critical Infrastructure Security pertains to safeguarding the crucial digital components that are vital for the country’s national security, economic stability, and the safety of its citizens. This includes securing essential computer systems, applications, networks, data, and digital resources. To ensure robust protection, organisations can draw upon established frameworks like the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) guidelines, which provide comprehensive guidance on enhancing cyber security in sectors crucial to the nation’s well-being.

Understanding the common cyber security threats

Types of cyber security

Understanding the common cyber security threats is essential for developing effective defence strategies. Let’s explore some of the most prevalent threats that organisations and individuals face.


Malware, short for “malicious software,” refers to any software code or program designed to harm computer systems or users. Almost every modern cyberattack involves some form of malware. Hackers and cybercriminals use malware to gain unauthorised access to systems and sensitive data, hijack computer systems for remote control, disrupt or damage computer systems, or hold data hostage for ransom. Protecting against malware requires robust antivirus software, regular system updates, and user education on safe browsing and email practices.


Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s data or device and demands a ransom payment to restore access. In recent years, ransomware attacks have become increasingly sophisticated, with attackers adopting double extortion tactics. This involves not only encrypting the victim’s data but also threatening to publish or sell it unless a second ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks can have devastating consequences, emphasising the importance of regular backups, security patches, and employee awareness training.


Phishing attacks involve fraudulent emails, text messages, or voice messages that trick users into divulging sensitive information, downloading malware, or making financial transactions to the wrong recipients. While bulk phishing scams targeting a wide audience are prevalent, more sophisticated phishing techniques like spear phishing and business email compromise (BEC) specifically target individuals or groups to steal valuable data or money. Protecting against phishing requires user education on recognising and reporting suspicious messages, as well as implementing email filtering and authentication measures.

Insider Threats, also known as Social Engineering

Insider threats originate from authorised users who intentionally or accidentally misuse their access privileges or have their accounts compromised by cybercriminals. Insider threats can be challenging to detect as they often resemble legitimate activity and bypass traditional security measures. Malicious insider incidents can cost organisations significant financial and reputational damage. Mitigating insider threats requires a combination of access controls, monitoring systems, employee awareness training, and incident response protocols.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

DDoS attacks aim to overwhelm a server, website, or network by flooding it with a massive volume of traffic. Cybercriminals typically employ botnets, networks of compromised computers, to launch DDoS attacks. These attacks can disrupt online services, render websites inaccessible, and cause financial losses. In recent years, attackers have combined DDoS attacks with ransomware threats or extortion demands. Protecting against DDoS attacks requires robust network infrastructure, traffic monitoring systems, and disaster recovery plans.

Supply Chain risks

Recent high-profile breaches such as SolarWinds or MoveIT have highlighted the critical importance of supply chain security. With new legislation like the Digital Operational Resiliency Act (DORA) and Network Infrastructure Security (NIS) regulations prioritising supply chain security in cyber resilience programs, organisations must take proactive measures to safeguard their supply chains.

Debunking cyber security myths

Cyber security locks

Despite the growing awareness of cyber security, several misconceptions persist. Let’s debunk some of these common cybersecurity myths to ensure a more accurate understanding of the risks and challenges.

“Strong passwords alone are adequate protection.”

While strong passwords are an essential component of cyber security, relying solely on them is insufficient. Cybercriminals can steal passwords through various means, such as phishing attacks or credential stuffing. Organisations and individuals must implement additional security measures, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), to enhance protection.

“The major cyber security risks are well-known.”

The landscape is constantly evolving, with thousands of new vulnerabilities discovered each year. Cybercriminals continuously find new attack vectors, targeting previously unaffected systems and devices. Negligent employees or contractors can also introduce new risks through human error. Organisations must remain vigilant and proactive in identifying and mitigating emerging threats.

“All cyberattack vectors are contained.”

Cybercriminals are adaptable and resourceful, constantly seeking new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. Modern cyberattacks target a wide range of systems and technologies, including Linux systems, operational technology (OT), Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and cloud environments. Organisations must adopt a holistic approach to cybersecurity, addressing vulnerabilities across all attack vectors.

“Once we’ve vetted our suppliers, we’re safe.”

This myth assumes that conducting initial due diligence on third-party suppliers is sufficient to guarantee ongoing security. In reality, the cybersecurity landscape is dynamic, and both your organisation and your suppliers may face evolving risks. Regular monitoring and assessment of your suppliers’ security practices and the potential changes in their cybersecurity posture are essential. Cyber threats can emerge over time, so continuous vigilance is necessary to maintain a secure supply chain.

“My industry is safe.”

No industry is immune to cyber security risks. Cyber adversaries target organisations across sectors, exploiting the interconnectedness of communication networks. Ransomware attacks, for instance, have expanded to target local governments, non-profits, healthcare providers, and critical infrastructure. Every organisation must prioritise cybersecurity, regardless of its industry.

“Cybercriminals don’t attack small businesses.”

Small businesses are increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, as they often lack robust cyber security measures compared to larger enterprises. In 2021, 82% of ransomware attacks targeted companies with fewer than 1,000 employees, and 37% of ransomware victims had fewer than 100 employees. Small businesses must recognise the importance of cyber security and invest in appropriate defences.

“Cyber security training is optional.”

Some individuals mistakenly believe that cyber security training is an optional endeavour. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Continuous cyber security training is a crucial component of a robust defence against cyber threats. Without proper training, individuals may not be equipped to recognise potential threats or respond to them effectively. Cyber attackers often target unsuspecting employees, making training an essential investment for organisations. Comprehensive training programs educate employees on best practices, threat awareness, and incident response, enhancing overall security.

cyber Security awareness

Summary of cyber security key elements

In today’s digital landscape, cyber security is of paramount importance. Understanding the key elements of cyber security is essential for protecting our digital assets, mitigating financial loss, gaining customer trust, and increasing competitive advantage. By implementing comprehensive cyber security strategies, organisations can safeguard their systems, applications, data, and financial assets from cyber threats. It is crucial to stay informed about evolving threats and adopt best practices and technologies to stay ahead of cybercriminals. With a robust cyber security posture, organisations can thrive in the digital age and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their digital assets.

Remember, cyber security is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment to protecting what matters most in our digital lives. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay secure.

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