What Is Cybersecurity?

In an increasingly hyper-connected Smart City world and the explosion of mobile devices, cyber threats will continue to evolve in scale and forms. How does cybersecurity play a part and how do organizations best leverage the available solutions today?

Cheng Lai KiBy: Cheng Lai Ki, Sep 06, 2019
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Credits: Photo by Thom on Unsplash

Cybersecurity is a hot topic today. Cyber attacks such as ransomware, deepfakes, and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDos) are landing on organizations large and small alike, making headlines every day. Keeping cyberspace safe is a joint effort across the organization, and everyone is equally a Cyber Defender.

Organizations need to develop a proactive and holistic attitude towards their cybersecurity. Let’s first understand what cybersecurity actually means by jumping into some foundational definitions and concepts. First, we will break down the term Cybersecurity into the two main terms of Cyber and Security.

Etymology

Short for cybernetics, cyber refers to anything that has to do or is being governed by machines. Expanding on this definition, cyberspace refers to the digital environment onboard a computer, database, controller, sensor, or any of those components connected to each other on a network. These networks can refer to those connected to the global network we know as the Internet or an internal network of computers we call an Intranet. The next term is security, which refers to the continuous process of protecting an object (eg. data) and/or processes (eg. invoicing) from harm, destruction, or interruption. This process, by extension, increases the longevity of an individual or organization by reducing its risks from various threats.

Combining the two definitions, we can define cybersecurity as the continuous protection of data.

Understanding Attack Categories With The CIA Triad

The three dimensions of the CIA Triad — Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability of data — form the basis of what is broadly, and traditionally, known as Information Security. This means that a successful attack on any dimension may lead to the compromise of data or access to it..

The CIA Triad in greater detail:

  • Confidentiality is the safeguarding of information/data from being accessed by unauthorized parties.
  • Integrity is the assurance that the stored or transferred information has not been tampered with and remains genuine.
  • Availability is ensuring that the relevant information can be accessed by authorized parties whenever they are needed.

For organizations to continuously maintain a resilient security posture, they need comprehensive solutions to safeguard their information across all the dimensions. Before implementing these solutions, it is important for organizations to develop a holistic cybersecurity strategy that spans across people, processes, and technology.

People, Processes, and Technology

Contrary to popular belief, cybersecurity is more than just technology. A product alone works 0% of the time. People who lack the knowledge and mindset will continue to fail. Without the right processes to get security into a company’s DNA, there will always be gaps in the company’s security posture.

Problems and threats can originate from one or a combination of People, Process, or Technology, and so can solutions and mitigations:

  • People refers to everyone using and interacting with technology. These can be users and administrators, but they can also be decision-makers, stakeholders, regulators, threat actors, and many more.
  • Process refers to a sequence of operational actions that take place to achieve specific objectives. Problems may arise from gaps in processes and, as such, solutions can be deployed with the adjustment of some processes.
  • Technology refers to the different tools that are used to achieve specific objectives.

Let’s illustrate the risk across these three aspects with the example of a Spear Phishing attack. A spear phishing attack is a highly targeted cyber attack at specific people, masked to look like a genuine email or phone call, to elicit a certain behavior such as a malware download. When organizations don’t have an established process or the technology to identify such attacks, they will continue to be prone to being phished.

Taking Advantage Of Cybersecurity Solutions

In an increasingly hyper-connected Smart City world and the explosion of mobile devices, cyber threats will continue to evolve in scale and forms. This means that organizations need to leverage the spectrum of cybersecurity solutions available. That includes solutions that protect software development, security audits like penetration testing, and software to secure endpoints.

Ultimately, cyberspace protection is not a singular effort relegated to the security team. Every individual needs to chip in in order for the organization to build a robust security posture.

Cheng Lai Ki
By: Cheng Lai Ki, Sep 06, 2019

Cheng Lai Ki is a Cyber Operations Consultant in Horangi’s headquarters in Singapore. Equipped with advanced degrees in Criminology, Intelligence, and International Security, he brings with him over eight continuous years working and researching in the security field. He was a former military officer from the armed forces, where he was an instructor specializing in strategy and operational tactics. Professionally and academically published within the field of cyber security in Europe and Asia, Cheng Lai Ki brings a unique cross-industry and interdisciplinary perspective towards cyber security. He is actively involved in Horangi’s intelligence, security management and incident response operations with clients in the APAC region.

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