Ever wondered why it’s important to protect your networked systems, applications, and data from digital attacks and threats? Maybe you’ve heard of cybersecurity, which sounds somewhat complex and irrelevant. Even if you know it’s critical, you might not know why exactly.
Not to worry. We’ll explore six reasons why you should take cybersecurity seriously.
1. The Everchanging Nature of Cyberattacks
Essentially, cybersecurity is setting up measures to protect your networked systems (typically computers and devices connected to the internet), applications, software, and data from cyberattacks and digital threats.
In 1943, when the first digital computer was created, cyberattacks were almost non-existent:
- The internet hadn’t been created.
- The available computers were massive. Only a select few had access.
- The computers weren’t networked.
But by the 1970s, cybercriminals had popularized “phreaking” by telephone, the first type of cyberattack. Worms, viruses, trojans, and ransomware became prominent by the 1980s, after the public launch of the internet.
With the rise of phishing, spoofing, API abuse, and the like, phreaking and worms that were the scourge of the past century now pale in comparison. This evolution makes it clear that bad actors always lurk around to exploit the weaknesses of cybersystems, coming up with new and advanced cybercriminal attacks.
The threats against networked systems are dynamic, so you’ll require different protection methods at different times. Cybersecurity must never be static; we mustn’t relent in our efforts to review and improve how we protect our digital systems because cybercriminals never relent.
2. Impact of Cyberattacks
Cyberattacks can lead to significant losses for those on the receiving end. Attackers could access sensitive information like credit card details and login credentials. This can be used for the attacker’s financial gain at the victim’s loss.
Sometimes, cyberattacks discredit an organization by eroding the trust of its customers. Organizations known to be long-time victims of cyberattacks usually find it hard to build back the trust of their customers and investors, as these attacks consistently damage their reputations.
Cyberattacks can also disrupt online services, such as crashing websites and interrupting online transactions. They can even go as far as threatening national security.
For instance, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, one of the largest cyberattacks against infrastructure in the United States, had devastating consequences. Colonial Pipeline had to shut down its systems after a malware infection, which affected oil flow control through its pipelines.
The FBI got involved, paying over $4 million in ransom via Bitcoin. And no one has been charged or arrested for this attack.
Note that you aren’t immune to the danger of cyberattacks. Everyone, including governments, individuals, and small and medium-scale enterprises, can be impacted.
3. Technological Advancements
As cybersystems and technologies evolve, so do cybercriminals and their attacks. Bad actors continuously attempt to take advantage of technological advancements like blockchain, cloud security, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI).
For instance, blockchain technology acts as secure storage for information by creating a distributed database of transactions. While the technology wasn’t created with crime in mind, blockchain innovations provide use cases for cybercriminals. Bad actors continually use blockchains for rug pulls, cryptojacking, flash loan attacks, and phishing attacks.
Similarly, cybercriminals have begun incorporating generative artificial intelligence (AI) to create more sophisticated cyberattacks while avoiding standard checks.
4. The Rise of Cloud Computing
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for cloud computing solutions skyrocketed. Nowadays, most computing services, including analytics, networking, intelligence, and databases, are delivered over the internet. Most of our computing, especially services like Google Drive, Netflix, Twitter, and iCloud, are powered by the cloud.
While cloud computing offers numerous benefits, including secure backup and increased security, one downside is the vulnerability of your data to cybercriminals. No matter how secure a cloud network is, there’s still a risk that bad actors can gain access to your data.
Nevertheless, cloud computing services remain incredibly crucial and beneficial. So cybersecurity is required to reduce the risks associated with cloud computing solutions drastically. Cloud security, including data encryption and a quick incident response team in case of a breach, efficiently safeguards data and infrastructure stored on cloud computing platforms.
5. A Growing Remote Workforce
Another effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is the massive increase in the remote workforce. Nowadays, jobs that don’t require physical exertion are typically carried out remotely, mostly using cloud computing systems. The increasing remote workforce has brought about new cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
The use of cloud computing systems, which can be vulnerable to data breaches, and the involvement of numerous personnel, who may have ulterior motives or unconsciously leak sensitive organization data, contribute to these vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity is required to mitigate potential cyberattacks that can creep in through these vulnerabilities.
6. Safeguarding Data and Systems
Without cybersecurity, your computer systems and data would be at the mercy of malicious actors. You can’t leave your data and systems unprotected and expect everything to turn out fine. If there’s data to be stolen or manipulated, you can rest assured that a cybercriminal will try to steal or manipulate it.
You can block unwanted access or manipulations and keep your data safe by implementing standard cybersecurity measures.
Five Top Tips for Boosting Cybersecurity
You can employ numerous cybersecurity tips, even if you’re a digital nomad. But we’ll explore six basic ones that should always be on your mind.
1. Apply Patches and Security Updates
Running your web-connected devices on unpatched software is a good way to grant cyberattackers easy access. Bad actors typically design cyberattacks to seek out vulnerable software and applications and exploit them. But you needn’t be among the attacked.
Strengthen your defenses by applying patches and security updates to your operating systems. Manufacturers and software providers frequently release updates and patches after discovering vulnerabilities or bugs. Ignoring these updates leaves you open to cyberattacks.
Typically, if your device is connected to an internet connection and still supported for updates, you’ll be notified once a patch or update is available. Just download and press Install.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Hopefully, you don’t use 12345678 as your password or, worse, 0000. Using easy passwords leaves your devices and accounts at risk.
Avoid using common phrases or your name as the password to access sensitive data. Try a combination of alphanumeric characters and store it somewhere safe, possibly offline, out of the reach of cyberattackers.
3. Use an Up-to-Date Antivirus Software
Numerous antivirus software help fish out and eradicate threats to your device. These threats may come in diverse forms, but there are more than enough types of antivirus software to cater to every possible malware attack.
Ensure the antivirus software installed on your device is up-to-date.
4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) offers you an extra layer of protection from cyberattacks, even in the event of data theft.
If other security measures fail, and an attacker obtains your username and password, you’ll be informed of any attempts to log into your account. Since you’ll need to provide additional information or login codes, the attackers will be stopped.
Whenever an application or computer system allows you to set up MFA, take advantage of the opportunity!
5. Stay Abreast of Cybersecurity Measures
Cybercrime evolves. The digital threats prevalent five years ago aren’t the threats prevalent today. So the cybersecurity solutions and standards used five years ago should differ from what you’ll use today.
Stay in the know of advancements in cybersecurity. Read articles, watch videos, and take note of security recommendations offered by manufacturers of your devices and creators of the apps you use.
If you’re a business owner, especially one whose team works remotely, don’t overlook the importance of training your employees in cybersecurity standards.
Cybersecurity Is a Shield Against Cyberattacks
Hackers devise different ways to sneak through the existing security measures as technology advances. Therefore, you must stay on top of technological advances and update your firewalls and antivirus software accordingly. This is because cybersecurity is the only way to protect against the ever-evolving world of cyberattacks.