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Cyber Security Basics Every Beginner Needs to Learn

It can feel like there’s a new cyber security threat every few months. A new strain of ransomware, called Clop, is the latest threat to Windows 10 users.

Experts always tell users to adopt best practices in response. But it can be easy to wonder what you need to know about cyber security. 

What is the best practice? Thankfully, it’s easy to get a grip on it once you understand how it works.

We’ve gathered the cyber security basics you need to learn. Read on to learn more.

Understanding Cyber Security

One of the most common forms of cybercrime comes via ‘phishing’. This is where people get emails that seem to be from a legitimate source. These emails may tell them about fraudulent activity on their account and they’re given a link to log in.

The person enters their details on a fake page. This hands over their sensitive information to the phisher. That might be their login details or credit card information.

Yet cyber security refers to more than setting good passwords and being vigilant for phishing emails. It also refers to maintaining databases and managing network access. 

That involves data, hardware, and software. All three of these areas are vulnerable to attacks from cybercriminals.

Hackers might hack into your system to access data, disrupt your network, or even use your business resources. Why?

Botnet Attacks

Some attackers leave code in your system that turns your machines into bots in their network. This lets attackers use them in a botnet attack.

In a botnet attack, all the enlisted machines perform the same action at the same time. 

This is what happened during the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack in 2016. So many machines ‘pinged’ the Dyn network that the extra traffic crashed their system. It brought down Twitter, CNN, Netflix, and Reddit, among others.

Smart devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) can be vulnerable to this. Early devices don’t always let users change the access details from the factory settings. They stay stuck on their factory settings.

That means attackers can add smart devices to a bot network. It also means attackers can often access a network via the weakest point – an unsecured smart device.

Ransomware

In a worst-case scenario, attackers can infect your system with ransomware. This type of malware encrypts files, only decrypting them if a ransom is paid.

The WannaCry ransomware epidemic of 2018 was this kind of attack. It ended up costing the British NHS £92 million.

There’s no guarantee that paying the ransom will see your files decrypted. 

Protecting Yourself and Others

Early computer users worried most about computer viruses. Here, you can see how the threats have evolved. Many of them are very sophisticated and it makes them harder to deflect.

There are still things you can – and should – do to protect yourself. If you work for a company, being well-versed in cyber security basics also protects the business.

Access to Information

Does everyone need access to certain files and folders? Restricting access is a simple way to cut down the threat of unauthorized access to data.

Make sure all staff members get training in using strong passwords. Employees need to follow best practices, like not writing down passwords.

On your home PC, a simple thing you can do is to create separate accounts for administrator rights and ordinary users.

If a hacker accesses your system, the lack of admin privileges limits the number of actions they can perform.

On devices, two-factor authentication or biometric verification can help reduce access.

Manipulation of Data

Access to data isn’t the only problem. Attackers can also delete or edit data.

File permissions help to control data breaches. Version control can also help identify illicit alterations to data.

Regular backups are the most common way to manage the loss or alteration of data. Cloud backups are a good way to maintain the safety of data since it is kept off-site. If a physical disaster befell your office, you’d still have your data.

Physical backups on removable hard drives also mitigate against ransomware. This is because ransomware can only encrypt files it can access.

If you disconnect the hard drive after a backup? This keeps the data safe from ransomware.

Regular Updates

Developers release regular updates for both hardware and software. These updates help to plug gaps in the code that can be exploited by attackers.

Keeping your firewall and antivirus software up-to-date will keep out most threats. Remember to install updates for your operating system and other software you use.

Not installing security patches or updates leaves your system vulnerable. Include these updates as part of your security maintenance routine.

It’s also worth designing a disaster recovery plan so you know what to do if the worst does happen. 

Progressing From Cyber Security Basics

If you want to learn more about cyber security, check out a certification. Many of them run a CISSP Code of Ethics which gives you an idea of their values.

CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional. Getting CISSP-certified will help you gain the confidence you need to manage the cyber security matters for your own business.

It will also help you to start a new career in cyber security. Or these certifications can help you add a new skill set within an existing job.

Just be aware that cyber security isn’t a single career discipline. It covers a wide range of jobs at a range of levels. There are also many opportunities for non-technical personnel. Don’t let it put you off if you don’t have a degree in computer science.

Boost Your Cyber Security

Now you understand cyber security basics you can start to put these measures into place. Within home computing, they help give you the peace of mind you need to surf the internet with ease.

Within a company setting, these basics can help guard your customer data and keep your business running. Bring them into a regular routine to make them second nature for all employees.

Why not check out our other articles on our blog for more helpful tips?

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