• Cyber Security

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What is Cyber Security?

Cyber Security is a comprehensive approach to online safety, encompassing a range of digital practices designed to counter the threat of malicious online attacks. Complementary aspects of Cyber Security include network security (e.g. firewalls), application security (e.g. fixing vulnerabilities and permissions), and education (e.g. training staff to recognise and mitigate potential threats).  

Cyber Security aims to protect:

  • Autonomous business operating systems
  • User operated business networks
  • Programs / software applications 
  • Network devices*
  • Sensitive data 

*Depending on the level of Cyber Security protection, this could include off-site devices connected to the business network via an internet connection, and ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) protection for outside devices (typically closed off within a separate WiFi network set up to allow limited network permissions to devices brought onsite by clients, for example). 

How does Cyber Security work?

In broad terms, ‘Cyber Security’ describes a mix of both proactive and reactive measures that combine to raise the level of network security and network device security against the threat of unauthorised network access. Cyber Security can be broken down into granular terms that help to better describe the Cyber Security process.

How Cyber Security works:

  • People  - raising staff awareness of the most likely Cyber Security issues

    Depending on the nature of the business, a customised staff training course can equip employees with essential Cyber Security skills to help protect the business network and business assets. This will likely include training on the proper privacy procedure regarding the exchange of data (e.g. handling card data, exchanging emails).
  • Processes - establishing working practices that close loopholes

    Where business models evolve to remain competitive, staff numbers and staff roles can shift. This can create Cyber Security loopholes. Risk should be identified and processes should be updated to ensure that evolving or expanding working practices do not leave the company exposed to the threat of cyber crime.  
  • Technology - software/hardware requirements 

    The technology aspect of Cyber Security covers the hardware and software requirements that must be deployed in order to achieve a desired level of network protection and network device protection. This could include upgrading the business WiFi network, rolling out application updates/patches, and installing firewalls.

How to approach Cyber Security (the Cyber Security checklist)

Beginning a journey towards Cyber Security is a daunting but necessary task for business leaders. Digital assets must be protected against unauthorised access to sensitive data for  multiple reasons relating to loss of finances, loss of data, public image issues, and customer retention, (please see below: “Why is Cyber Security important for business?”).

The Cyber Security checklist includes:

  • Staff training 
  • Device readiness
  • Software version management 
  • Top-down approach to vigilance 
  • Application vulnerabilities (data leaks)
  • Network communication vulnerabilities
  • Access controls (password management policy)

Developing and maintaining a robust Cyber Security strategy is a key part of future proofing against the effects of emerging cyber crime tactics. Carrying out a thorough security review that includes a sweeping threat analysis can help to identify sector specific Cyber Security issues - this information can be used to assess company preparedness on a granular level. 

Why is Cyber Security important for business?

Cyber crime is an evolving threat that cannot be contained by deploying one-off counter measures. Issues such as malware, ransomware, trojans, denial of service attacks, and phishing tactics (all of which aim to exploit vulnerabilities within the network or within network devices) all require adequate countermeasures to mitigate individual targeted attacks. 

Cyber Security - Beginnings

In 1971, an employee of an American research and development company wrote a small computer program that moved throughout the onsite network. The program left a message that read “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can”. A later version was designed to be self-replicating, which is now widely acknowledged as the first computer worm.   

At the same time as the self replicating version of the program was designed, a program called Reaper was developed to delete the Creeper program. This marked the beginning of Cyber Security. In the nearly fifty years that have followed, projected industry spending on Cyber Security (over the coming five year period) is estimated to be in the region of $1 trillion. 

 

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