Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These cyberattacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes.
Implementing effective cybersecurity measures is particularly challenging today because there are more devices than people, and attackers are becoming more innovative.
A successful cybersecurity approach has multiple layers of protection spread across the computers, networks, programs, or data that one intends to keep safe. In an organization, the people, processes, and technology must all complement one another to create an effective defense from cyber-attacks. A unified threat management system can automate integrations across select Cisco Security products and accelerate key security operations functions: detection, investigation, and remediation.
Users must understand and comply with basic data security principles like choosing strong passwords, being wary of attachments in email, and backing up data. Learn more about basic cybersecurity principles.
Organizations must have a framework for how they deal with both attempted and successful cyber-attacks. One well-respected framework can guide you at the NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology)website (https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework) . It explains how you can identify attacks, protect systems, detect and respond to threats, and recover from successful attacks.
Technology is essential to giving organizations and individuals the computer security tools needed to protect themselves from cyber-attacks. Three main entities must be protected: endpoint devices like computers, smart devices, and routers; networks; and the cloud. Common technology used to protect these entities include next-generation firewalls, DNS filtering, malware protection, antivirus software, and email security solutions.
In today’s connected world, everyone benefits from advanced cyber-defense programs. At an individual level, a cybersecurity attack can result in everything from identity theft, to extortion attempts, to the loss of important data like family photos. Everyone relies on critical infrastructure like power plants, hospitals, and financial service companies. Securing these and other organizations is essential to keeping our society functioning.
Everyone also benefits from the work of cyberthreat researchers, like the team of 250 threat researchers at Talos, who investigate new and emerging threats and cyber-attack strategies. They reveal new vulnerabilities, educate the public on the importance of cybersecurity, and strengthen open source tools. Their work makes the Internet safer for everyone.
Malware is a term used to describe malicious software, including spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms. Malware breaches a network through a vulnerability, typically when a user clicks a dangerous link or email attachment that then installs risky software. Once inside the system, malware can do the following:
Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source, usually through email. The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim’s machine. Phishing is an increasingly common cyberthreat.
Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, also known as eavesdropping attacks, occur when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction. Once the attackers interrupt the traffic, they can filter and steal data.
Two common points of entry for MitM attacks:
1. On unsecure public Wi-Fi, attackers can insert themselves between a visitor’s device and the network. Without knowing, the visitor passes all information through the attacker.
2. Once malware has breached a device, an attacker can install software to process all of the victim’s information.
A denial-of-service attack floods systems, servers, or networks with traffic to exhaust resources and bandwidth. As a result, the system is unable to fulfill legitimate requests. Attackers can also use multiple compromised devices to launch this attack. This is known as a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. A distributed-denial-of-service, or DDoS, attack is the bombardment of simultaneous data requests to a central server. The attacker generates these requests from multiple compromised systems. In doing so, the attacker hopes to exhaust the target’s Internet bandwidth and RAM. The ultimate goal is to crash the target’s system and disrupt its business.
A Structured Query Language (SQL) injection occurs when an attacker inserts malicious code into a server that uses SQL and forces the server to reveal information it normally would not. An attacker could carry out a SQL injection simply by submitting malicious code into a vulnerable website search box.
A zero-day exploit hits after a network vulnerability is announced but before a patch or solution is implemented. Attackers target the disclosed vulnerability during this window of time. Zero-day vulnerability threat detection requires constant awareness.
DNS tunneling utilizes the DNS protocol to communicate non-DNS traffic over port 53. It sends HTTP and other protocol traffic over DNS. There are various, legitimate reasons to utilize DNS tunneling. However, there are also malicious reasons to use DNS Tunneling VPN services. They can be used to disguise outbound traffic as DNS, concealing data that is typically shared through an internet connection. For malicious use, DNS requests are manipulated to exfiltrate data from a compromised system to the attacker’s infrastructure. It can also be used for command and control callbacks from the attacker’s infrastructure to a compromised system.