Cybersecurity is used wherever technology is used. From the largest enterprises and governments to individual home users, cybersecurity can be found at every layer.
Why is cybersecurity so pervasive? Cybersecurity and network security is everywhere because it is so important.
Our increasing reliance on technology, the growing prevalence of hackers, and the increasing profitability of cyberattacks are all converging to make cybersecurity a critical component of our daily lives. Without a technical background, it can be difficult to recognize where cybersecurity is used. This guide covers where you can expect to find cybersecurity and the most common tactics at each layer.
Cybersecurity at the Device Level
Devices like phones, tablets, and PCs have some cybersecurity elements built in. Other devices are built specifically for cybersecurity.
Antivirus is an important network security layer included with most computer systems. Antivirus works by scanning the contents flowing in and out of network ports.
When viruses or other malware is detected in computer systems, the antivirus closes the ports to keep malicious software out. Paid antivirus programs are better than free antivirus programs at protecting against cyberattackers. Regular operating system and software updates are also important for PC cybersecurity. These patches and updates fix security vulnerabilities when they are discovered.
Mobile cybersecurity and network security architecture differs depending on whether it’s an Android or Apple device. For example, Apple designs their devices, so applications are kept further removed from the operating system.
As a result, iOS devices don’t need antivirus software for application security. On the other hand, Android devices don’t have the same separation. As a result, Android phones are more likely to face security risks, making antivirus software highly recommended.
Both Apple and Android devices have protections against lost or stolen devices. GPS locator apps like Find My iPhone and Find My Device are installed by default to protect against cyber criminals, but they must be activated.
When devices with sensitive information are lost, these apps can remotely wipe the device, so information can’t be stolen from the device.
Like with PCs, it’s also important to keep your phone’s apps and operating system updated to protect against various types of cyber vulnerabilities.
Routers & Sensitive Data
Most home wireless routers have network cybersecurity features built in to protect against cyber threats. Firewalls that keep hackers out are typically included, but they may need to be enabled.
Routers also encrypt data flowing over the network, which prevents bad actors from being able to read the data. Multiple encryption standards are available, but WPA2 is the most current.
Internet of Things (IoT) Devices
IoT devices (aka smart devices) are defined as devices that connect to the internet. Wi-Fi connected thermostats, refrigerators, and light bulbs are just a few common examples. These devices are typically designed for convenience first, not security.
As a result, hackers regularly discover vulnerabilities that can turn the devices into a botnet to deliver DDoS attacks.
Too often, cybersecurity with these devices is left up to the individual consumer, manually installing firmware updates to patch vulnerabilities. The best practice is to only purchase devices from trusted manufacturers and regularly check for, then install, updates.
Purpose-built security devices like firewalls and content filters are more common in business settings. Business operations are so heavily reliant on networking technology that cybersecurity devices are a necessity to keep a business up and running. Cybersecurity at the Organization Level looks at these devices more closely.
Cybersecurity at the Organization Level
Organizations large and small have unique security needs and best practices. In organizations, cybersecurity is used more broadly than on a typical home network.
A firewall is a piece of security hardware or software that acts as a barrier between the known internal network and external unknown networks like the internet.
Firewalls block many kinds of cybersecurity threats like viruses, ransomware, data breaches, and unwanted network traffic. Firewalls are like guards who only grant access to trusted IP addresses.
Next generation firewalls can block more sophisticated threats because they can scan the entirety of a data packet’s contents and evaluate the source. Traditional firewalls typically only scan the data packet’s header.
Cyberattacks and Intrusion Prevention Systems
Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) typically sit between the firewall and the network. They analyze network traffic, detect threats, and block malicious connections. The IPS does all of this automatically without requiring human intervention.
The systems can also be automatically updated to recognize and block new threats as soon as they are discovered. The IPS is connected to a global network which stays up to date on the newest attack signatures in real time.
Content filtering scans the contents of websites and emails, then filters out dangerous and inappropriate content. For example, web content filtering on a company network can block adult content, violent content, or even social media sites that hinder productivity.
Email filtering can prevent malicious attachments from ever making it into your inbox.
Content filters need to be configured with the right amount of severity for your organization’s needs. Too strict and legitimate websites will be blocked. Too loose and dangerous content will make it past the filter.
An organization’s IT team is an ideal cybersecurity resource, whether they are internal staff or from a managed service provider (MSP) like LeeShanok. They are at the front lines of protecting the organization’s network.
They make decisions on the best cybersecurity measures and keep up to date on the latest cybersecurity trends to protect the network.
Cybersecurity at the Service Level
Cybersecurity is also important for online services and accounts. Cybersecurity is present in any service you log in to with a username and password.
Multifactor authentication is a method of verifying your identity when you log in by using two or more methods. Most often, this is a username and password plus a numerical code sent to your smartphone. The code could come via text message or via an authenticator app.
The goal of multifactor authentication is to prevent unauthorized access and security breaches. Even if a hacker knows your username and password, they still can’t log in because they won’t have your smartphone to enter the code.
The best cybersecurity practice is to enable multifactor authentication on every account possible.
Strong, unique passwords are necessary to protect all online accounts. Unfortunately, strong passwords are difficult to remember, and it’s nearly impossible for a person to memorize a different password for every single account.
Most people choose one password and use it across a variety of sites. The more secure solution is a password manager.
Password managers generate, store, and autofill secure passwords for all your online accounts. You only need to remember one password to your password manager, instead of hundreds of unique passwords to different accounts.
Cloud Security to Prevent Cyberattacks
Identity and access management is a key cybersecurity concern for cloud-based software like Microsoft 365 and cloud-based computing platforms like Amazon Web Services.
With cloud hosted applications, data is stored and accessed offsite, which means it’s especially important that only authorized users have access to sensitive data to further defend against cyberattacks.
Accounts can be configured with certain permissions based on title or department. For example, the access to financial data can be restricted to only those in the finance department.
Cybersecurity at the Human Level
Most breaches are the result of human error, so the knowledge of how to recognize and prevent cyberattacks is especially important. The human layer is the most critical layer where cybersecurity is used.
The term “human firewall” refers to the cybersecurity protection that comes from having an informed workforce that is aware and trained against cyberattacks. An organization’s human firewall is the collective knowledge among employees on how to prevent cyberattacks.
In practice, what does this look like? It’s an employee acting as their own cybersecurity specialist who knows how to spot and avoid phishing emails. It’s the reception staff verifying the identity of the person who comes onsite claiming to be there to work on the servers. A strong human firewall may be the best defense in today’s threat landscape.
Cybersecurity threats change all the time, so continuing education around new cyberattacks is necessary for everyone.
Most companies require annual cybersecurity training for all employees, but IT professionals undergo constant training to stay on top of current cyberattack threats.
Cybersecurity education typically covers basics like phishing prevention and password management. More specific trainings for mobile devices, software suites, and compliance are also widely available. LeeShanok hosts free monthly cybersecurity trainings designed for people with all levels of technical skill, from computer novices to IT pros. View our upcoming webinars.
Cyberattacks are attempted on everyone, so everyone needs to have a basic understanding of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity professionals take the next steps by becoming experts on how to stop hackers.
Cybersecurity pros have a high degree of technical knowledge and expertise. They work for governments, large enterprise businesses, and IT companies.
Who is Hiring for Cybersecurity Jobs?
People who ask, “Where is cybersecurity used?” are often interested in becoming network security professionals themselves. The outlook for careers in cybersecurity and against cyberattacks is especially strong in these industries:
- Government – Governments around the world are investing more in cyber defense. As cyberattacks from foreign aggressors increase, the need for cybersecurity professionals continues to grow.
- Enterprise Businesses – Large companies are more likely to have dedicated cybersecurity positions available than small companies. This is especially true of companies in the technology sector, where functional IT infrastructure is crucial to the business’s success.
- IT providers – Managed service providers (MSPs) and managed security service providers (MSSPs) offer cybersecurity services to client businesses. These providers need cybersecurity pros to help protect their clients
- Education – More and more universities are offering dedicated cybersecurity programs. These programs need teachers who are experienced professionals in the industry to train the next generation of cybersecurity pros.