The modern world runs on information. As each day passes, people worldwide are engaging with and making the use of various online platforms that operate over the internet by constantly communicating with these platforms. Individuals today store their sensitive personal information from bank account details to their official IDs online, businessmen transact multi-million dollar deals with the click of a button, physical filing is being replaced with internet-based solutions and even education is slowly seeing a shift to online platforms; such is the power and omnipresence of the internet.
The various advantages and benefits that the internet brings to millions across the world every day, however, require the use of information. Online networks and secure servers are used to store all kinds of information about individuals and their personal lives. This is why the importance of cybersecurity is greatly enhanced; to protect such sensitive collections of information. Due to this rapid growth of technological dependence, cybersecurity today is an ever-growing, constantly evolving and exciting field. This article will help you understand the cybersecurity meaning and its various aspects in detail.
- What is cybersecurity?
- What are the types of cybersecurity?
- What skills are needed for cybersecurity?
- Is cybersecurity hard?
- Cybersecurity framework
- Types of cyber-attacks
- What entities pose threats to cybersecurity?
- Cybersecurity awareness
- Cybersecurity tools
- Cybersecurity skills
- Where is cybersecurity applied?
- Challenges in the field of cybersecurity
- Cybersecurity books
- Is a career in Cybersecurity possible
- Cybersecurity-related interview questions
- How much does a cybersecurity engineer earn
1) What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is often used synonymously with the term ‘information security’. It refers to the protection of information stored on devices, systems, and servers connected to the internet from being accessed or exploited by unauthorized individuals or organizations. As already explained, sensitive data may be stored on such devices and systems. A data breach might result in unimaginable levels of damage to the reputation of the company or organization that stores such information and more importantly, might lead to the misuse of that information at the expense of innocent people who trusted said entities with their personal data.
Data breaches may be caused by cyber-attacks designed to steal, modify or delete large quantities of data either as a means to attain illegal access to secure information, to gain personal benefit from the misuse of such information or to wreak havoc as a means to send a message (cyberterrorism, for example). The prevention of such data breaches with the help of certain established best practices and security protocols is called cybersecurity. To better understand what is cybersecurity, and what the cyber-attack meaning really is, read on.
2) What are the types of cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field and features an ongoing digital battle of sorts between the hackers and other individuals attempting to compromise data integrity and the cybersecurity analysts and professionals who ensure that those attempts are unsuccessful and that the data is secure. The different types of cybersecurity are, in fact, broadly divided based on the various cyber attack types that are employed to interfere with protected and sensitive information. A few of the most common types are listed below.
- Network security: In simple terms, network security refers to the set of configurations and protocols that are put in place in order to control access to networks and the devices and systems connected to these networks via incoming and outgoing connections. The primary objective is to ensure that the data stored on these networks remain secure and not compromised.
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Data Loss Prevention refers to the tools and protocols designed to detect when sensitive information is being transmitted, accessed and stolen. It works with the help of predetermined data policies that are customizable by the organization using the service, and it works by constantly monitoring data. The second it detects a malicious attempt at stealing or compromising data integrity, it puts into action corrective measures such as encryption in order to ensure that the data is not subject to misuse.
- Cloud security: Cloud computing is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, and more and more services and applications are being introduced today than ever before. These services almost entirely rely on cloud computing infrastructure to provide services and store the necessary information. Cloud security refers to the protection of this cloud infrastructure and data from unscrupulous hackers or malicious individuals.
- Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)/Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS): An IDS or IPS work similarly by keeping track of all incoming and outgoing connections to a particular server or network and are capable of quickly identifying any cybersecurity threats. The key difference between the two is that Intrusion Detection Systems merely identify the threat and convey it to the administrative team or the cybersecurity professionals as predetermined whereas Intrusion Prevention Systems come equipped with in-built protocols and cybersecurity tools to not only identify irregular or potentially harmful activity but also put an end to such activity.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM): Identity and Access Management or IAM is an umbrella term that refers to the collection of policies, cybersecurity protocols, programmes and technologies that are employed in order to strictly control access to sensitive databases and internet platforms where access must be restricted only to verified individuals. IAM includes the creation, maintenance and use of digital identities and the accompanying verifying process to ensure that no individual can gain unauthorized access to a restricted internet platform, network or server.
- Data encryption: The internet is today the most popular means of communication in the world, and this is where the vast cybersecurity field of data encryption comes into play. Encryption refers to the process where any message or communication is scrambled in such a way that it is undecipherable by any unauthorized party who somehow manages to gain access to it. Only the sender and the intended recipient have access to a decryption key without which the message or communication cannot be understood. The need for cybersecurity to maintain the privacy of individuals and corporate entities is ever-increasing.
- Anti-virus/anti-malware: An anti-virus or an anti-malware refers to a computer programme or software that is designed specifically to ensure that no malicious file or programme, most commonly found in unverified websites over the internet, can take advantage of the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the system to cause disruption, irreparable damage or data loss. These programmes constantly monitor the usage of a computer system, especially when sensitive data is involved, transactions are made, or the internet is accessed to protect the computer from any cybersecurity threat.
3) What skills are needed for cybersecurity?
Any particular profession mandates a unique set of skills that will help an individual do well at the job and contribute effectively to the organization that employs him/her. Cybersecurity jobs are no different in this respect. To have a successful cybersecurity career anywhere in the world, there are several skills that an individual must possess to excel in the field. Some of these are listed below.
- Networking and security management: A cybersecurity professional must necessarily possess knowledge about the working and intricacies of networks to be able to ensure that they are well-protected at all times.
- Scriptwriting: Scriptwriting is usually an integral part of almost any cybersecurity introduction programme or course since the basic knowledge of computer languages like C and Java and so on is essential for any cybersecurity engineer to be able to adequately protect sensitive information.
- Hacking: There is a very popular idiom in the English language that suggests that if one were to catch a criminal, he must be able to think like one. It can be argued that such is the case with cybersecurity and ethical hacking. If an individual is to succeed in any one of the many cybersecurity fields, he must necessarily be well-versed with the processes and intricacies of hacking and exploiting weaknesses in cybersecurity measures. This will allow for a better response to cyber-attacks and also help prevent them more efficiently.
- Operating system knowledge: OS, Windows, and Linux are a few of the most popular operating systems in the world that most computers run on. It is very difficult to establish any sort of a cybersecurity framework without adequate knowledge about each of these operating systems’ working and key aspects.
- Information technology infrastructure: Complete and thorough knowledge of the organization’s Information Technology infrastructure and systems is one of the cybersecurity essentials without which an individual would not be able to understand how data is stored, processed and communicated within and out of the organization. Without this crucial knowledge, data protection is close to impossible.
- Critical thinking: A cybersecurity analyst, as part of the job description itself, will be required to face several complex security challenges on a daily basis. To excel in the field of cybersecurity; therefore, critical thinking becomes indispensable. The ability to think quickly on one’s feet along with problem-solving ability is extremely important in the cybersecurity field.
- Analytical thinking: A cybersecurity engineer must also be able to thoroughly and with utmost clarity analyse every bit of the organization’s servers, systems, and networks to ensure that everything is working optimally and that the organization is not vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Analytical thinking allows for the necessary attention to be paid to minuscule details and ensures the constant maintenance of optimal security levels at the organization.
- Ability to work in teams: To be successful in the top cybersecurity companies and be able to have a successful cybersecurity career path, one must always be able to work in a team. The ability to cooperate, engage with and work in tandem with multiple other experts is absolutely essential since it is highly unlikely that only one cybersecurity professional is employed to handle the cybersecurity and maintain the information technology infrastructure in an organization.
- Communication: To be a successful cybersecurity engineer, one must understand that not every individual that they will have to report to or work with will possess the same levels of technical knowledge that they do. Therefore, they must possess good oral and written communication to make their work easier as well as effectively communicate the necessary information to other individuals in the organization.
- Learning: The world of cybersecurity and data protection is constantly evolving and simply does not sit still. If one is to truly excel in this field; therefore, they must always be prepared to learn on the job and strive towards keeping themselves updated about all the developments in the field.
4) Is cybersecurity hard?
The answer to one of the most asked questions about cybersecurity; ‘is cybersecurity hard’ is one that is far from straightforward. As is the case in almost any profession, any individual with an aptitude and willingness to put in hard work can certainly learn the tricks of the trade and succeed in the field of cybersecurity. Barring the bare minimum knowledge about what cybersecurity means and involves, it is certainly not possible to get a detailed and clear understanding of the field with the help of a simple search on the internet.
To learn and become a cybersecurity expert requires immense amounts of dedication, hard work, commitment and passion for the field. To truly build a solid foundation for your cybersecurity career, you can delve into the following areas of research and study that will surely prepare you to take the dive into the profession.
- Reading about cybersecurity: There are hundreds of cybersecurity books on the internet and on physical bookshelves across the world that are written and compiled by experts in the field and cybersecurity professionals. Some books on cybersecurity for beginners are exclusively designed to introduce newcomers with no prior experience in cybersecurity to the field. Apart from these, there are also books that are of a higher level of expertise and are written for the cybersecurity professionals who are already well-versed with the basics and the profession at large. Pick up an introductory book on cybersecurity and make an attempt to understand the various aspects of digital networks; what they are, how they function, how devices on networks communicate and how and why these networks must be protected. This is an excellent starting point for all those who are looking to plunge into the wide field of cybersecurity.
- Make the most of the internet: There are hundreds of different cybersecurity blogs and websites often authored by experts in the field that are freely available on the internet. While they may not be sufficient to launch your career as a cybersecurity professional, they surely help you learn more about the field and help you gain a deeper and more detailed insight into the world of cybersecurity. The articles and blogs discuss the basics and deal with the latest cybersecurity developments and new technological avenues that offer fresh perspectives on existing cybersecurity principles. Making the most of these valuable online resources therefore will ensure that you strengthen your foundation in cybersecurity and are better prepared to take the next step in becoming a cybersecurity professional.
- Ethical hacking: To be able to defend against a threat, one must first understand what the threat is. The same logic also applies to the field of cybersecurity services. Ethical hacking is a growing and extremely important aspect of cybersecurity that allows individuals to attempt to exploit network and system vulnerabilities and access sensitive data as a means to prevent such incidents from occurring when attempted by actual and dangerous perpetrators. Ethical hackers are usually either hired or take it upon themselves to identify loopholes and problems with existing network security protocols and bring it to the notice of the organization responsible for the administration of the networks. With ethical hacking, one can truly understand the nature of work that a cybersecurity analyst usually undertakes. There are several ethical hacking platforms and even courses that can help you train and improve your skills.
- Educational degrees: If you wish to learn more about cybersecurity and take it up as a serious profession, there is no better way to do it than to pursue an undergraduate degree in a computer-related field. There are some exclusive Information Technology and information security courses, both undergraduate and postgraduate, available at a few universities across the world that offer an excellent experience that perfectly sets you up for a career in the field of cybersecurity. If such a specialized course is inaccessible, any basic computer-related course will provide you with an adequate foundation with which you can later jump into a specialization in cybersecurity.
5) Cybersecurity framework
A cybersecurity framework is a series of documents, protocols and accepted norms that defines the best practices adopted by a particular organization to deal with cybersecurity risks and challenges. The primary purpose of setting up such a framework within an organization is to better protect it from cybersecurity threats and improve its defence in case it becomes the victim of an attempted cyber-attack. Therefore, a cybersecurity framework is nothing but an accepted set of guidelines and standards employed by the company to protect itself and its data assets in the digital world. A framework becomes important due to a number of different reasons.
In today’s information-driven world, companies and businesses largely run with the help of data. Therefore, this data is exceptionally valuable to the company and must be protected at any cost from unauthorized access or theft. This is where a well-thought-out and strategic cybersecurity framework becomes of paramount importance to protect the company’s core infrastructural assets and ensure the security of the data stored by the company.
In the normal scheme of things, companies use a framework as a sort of guide or benchmark against which all their actions and decisions with respect to cybersecurity are measured and analysed. Choosing one such framework that is apt for the company is an important decision that cannot be guided by any straight-jacket formula.
A company may either choose an established cybersecurity framework already in existence or develop its own framework to meet its unique requirements. Some companies may be compelled to adopt certain frameworks by the mandate of the law. For example, credit card companies need to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) framework and such a company would have to undergo and pass a very stringent audit to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect against cybersecurity risks.
6) Types of cyber-attacks
What makes cybersecurity such an important and crucial profession is the various types of cyber-attacks that organizations have to fend off regularly to keep their data and systems safe. There are several ways in which the different organizations, entities, and individuals pose a threat to cybersecurity attempt to exploit cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The following are some of the most common types of cyber-attacks that cybersecurity professionals have to fend off in order to protect data and information.
- Malware: Malware is an umbrella term that is used to refer to malicious software and files that contain viruses or worms that infiltrate the system and lead to the stealing of information, destruction of existing files and documents, disruption of certain parts of the system that render it unusable and so on. Malware is usually downloaded onto a system when the user unknowingly clicks on a malicious link or email attachment or downloads a file or software that is unverified.
- Spyware: Spyware is actually a type of malware but warrants special attention due to its method of operation. Spyware infiltrates the system or device and is designed to remain undetected and not disrupt any of the system’s functions. Instead, spyware constantly monitors and observes the user’s activities on the system and relays information back to a host which allows for sensitive details to be stolen.
- Ransomware: Ransomware, as the name suggests, involves a criminal attempt to obtain information or money from the user of the system that it affects. A form of malware, ransomware once downloaded onto the system through malicious links, downloads or files completely disrupts your system’s functioning and often displays a message to the user asking for a certain amount of money to be transferred to the host in order to regain access to the system.
- Phishing attacks: Phishing attacks are the most common form of cyber-attacks where communications are sent to users, most commonly via e-mail, that seem to come from a reputable and trustworthy source but are in fact deviously created to extract sensitive information like login details, credit card information, bank account details and so on. A positive aspect of such attacks is that with minimal levels of diligence and cybersecurity awareness, they can easily be rendered ineffective.
- Denial of Service (DoS) attacks: A denial of service attack is usually launched against an online platform or website and floods the systems and servers of such a website in order to create an overload of traffic and requests. This information overload causes a strain on the platform’s bandwidth and resources and eventually results in nobody being able to access or make use of the website. The primary objective of such attacks is to ensure that the particular service provided through the internet is rendered inaccessible to those who need it. Such attacks can be particularly crippling when launched against services that are used by individuals on a daily basis such as bill payment services, online shopping services and so on.
- Zero-day exploits: Another one of the many types of cybersecurity attacks is the zero-day exploit. There are often some instances where new cybersecurity vulnerabilities are discovered by the users who may take to the internet to inform other users about the same. In these cases, an individual may take advantage of the situation and immediately exploit the newly-found loophole in the form of a cyber-attack which is launched before the creators of the software or application can issue a fix for the weakness.
- Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks: As the name suggests, a man-in-the-middle attack is one where a hacker via another system infiltrates a communication channel between two systems or a user and an application that is believed to be secure or confidential. The primary goal of such an attack is to secretly steal sensitive information by intercepting secure communications, mostly payment details, bank and card information, login credentials and so on. These attacks are common but can thankfully be prevented with the help of constantly evolving cybersecurity communication protocols that are designed to further secure private communications.
7) What entities pose threats to cybersecurity?
As mentioned above, there are multiple different ways that a system or network’s security may be compromised. However, it is equally important to understand not just the means of exploitation of weaknesses but also the individuals or organizations who perpetrate cyber-attacks and why they do so. The following are some entities that most commonly launch cyber-attacks against individuals, organizations and secure networks for different purposes.
- Cyberterrorists: Information and communication technology, referred to as ICT in common parlance, has completely changed the way the world works. With the wide range of activities that the internet has enabled, terror organizations have tried constantly to exploit the wonders of the internet. When terrorist entities make use of the intent in order to further their agendas and objectives, it is called cyberterrorism. Cyberterrorists are those who orchestrate the use of the internet to expand terror links, recruit new participants and spread propaganda. Cyberterrorists may also attack secure servers to steal information and money in order to fund their operations, and the existence of such elements enhances the need of network security protocols.
- Hostile nations: Some governments of hostile and enemy nation-states may attempt to steal sensitive and unauthorized information about the functioning, communications and decisions of other countries or foreign entities. These hostile nations may, through state-sponsored hackers, attempt to infiltrate and hack into secure government servers of another nation with an intention to disrupt government functions and steal sensitive data.
- Hackers: A hacker is a person who uses various means to try and bypass network security systems and exploit system weakness in order to gain unauthorized access. Hackers often use their skills to steal information or perform activities for their personal benefit and therefore, a negative connotation is usually attached to the word. However, there are some hackers who work to improve existing cybersecurity architecture and identify potential cybersecurity risks and convey the same to the administrators responsible for the cybersecurity of a particular network or system.
- Hacktivists: Hacktivist is a term that is used to refer to individuals or organizations who wreak havoc by hacking into government websites and portals offering important government services to the public at large. These hacktivists perform these illegal acts of disrupting government services in order to create a stir and draw the attention of the government towards a specific social or political cause that they believe in. Hacktivists may also target private servers of non-government organizations if they believe that these organizations or individuals are engaged in activities that are not aligned with their ideology.
- Criminals: Organized crime syndicates and even individual criminals these days have evolved drastically and have spread their influence to the world of the internet as well. Crime organizations do pose a major cybersecurity risk to secure servers and networks, especially when these networks contain sensitive information such as login credentials, banking and financial information or other confidential data that can be leveraged and exploited to make large amounts of illegal money. Protecting users against criminals on the internet is just as important as protecting people from them on the streets.
- Insiders in the organization: It is more often than not an obvious fact that not all employees or members of an organization are happy and content with their careers and employment conditions. On some occasions, there may be disappointed employees who nurse grudges against the organization, and this might lead them to use their access to the organization’s secure servers and networks in order to sell or steal information for their personal benefit.
8) Cybersecurity awareness
Cybersecurity awareness is a term that encompasses the requisite knowledge about the basics of cybersecurity as well as the corresponding set of attitudes, behaviours and cybersecurity best practices that encourage and allow for better protection of data and information. Being cybersecurity aware means that an individual not only understands the various kinds of threats that might affect them while using a computer system or accessing a network but also diligently taking the right steps to prevent such threats from affecting them in the first place.
Cybersecurity awareness is especially important in an organization where the mistake of one individual could potentially destroy the data assets of the organization. These enterprises, therefore, often invite a cybersecurity specialist to update and inform their employees about what steps they should take to keep information safe and secure. When an enterprise’s employees are cybersecurity aware, it means that they understand what is a cyber threat, the potential impact that such an attack will have on the business and also the steps required to reduce the chances of such an attack occurring. Organizations, therefore, are increasingly taking proactive steps to educate and empower their employees to protect themselves, the company as well as the information and data held by the company.
9) Cybersecurity tools
Cybersecurity tools are those programmes or software that are designed to assist cybersecurity professionals in securing data and preventing cyber-attacks of different kinds. There are several different types of cybersecurity tools that each perform a vital function in the overall scheme of cybersecurity, and some of them are listed below. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.
- Network security monitoring tools: While all cybersecurity tools in some way or another are designed to protect networks, and there are specific monitoring tools that work in real-time to detect and inform administrators about cyber threats which enables them to act swiftly to eliminate the threats.
- Encryption tools: Encrypting data is a sure-fire way to prevent communication interception and data loss. Encryption tools allow for secure communications between two parties and eliminate the risk of a third-party secretly stealing information by making the decryption key available only to the intended recipient.
- Firewalls: Firewalls refer to the tools used by system administrators that act as a screen between your private network and the internet. These tools ensure that no individual gains access to your systems or the data stored in those systems by filtering out and blocking suspicious and unauthorized network traffic.
- Anti-virus software: Malware in various forms; viruses, worms, trojan and so on are designed to infect and spread across networks and can lead to data loss and system failure in some cases. Anti-malware software is an important tool that detects and immediately neutralizes such threats before they cause any sort of damage to data or system functioning.
- Packet sniffer tools: Packet sniffers are tools that constantly analyse network traffic by examining the data packets that are shared and received via the network in real-time. These sniffers report any potential threats and can also be used to intercept potentially harmful packets that are being sent into a network.
- Web security tools: Some of the most dangerous forms of cyber-attacks that can cripple large servers and networks may be initiated by just one wrong click of the mouse on a compromised link or website. Web security tools are designed to prevent just that. Not only do they protect you against malicious links and files on the internet, but they also ensure that no one uses a browser to hack into your private network and steal information.
10) Cybersecurity skills
Apart from the various skills that have already been explained in brief earlier, to learn how to start a career in cybersecurity, one must also understand the detailed technical skills that a cybersecurity analyst must possess.
- Crisis handling and response: One of the most important cybersecurity skills that one must possess is that of crisis management. Of all cybersecurity objectives, addressing and avoiding an imminent threat to an organization’s data or information security is the most crucial.
- SIEM management: Security information and event management (SIEM) tools are used to constantly monitor the functioning of networks and systems in real-time, and they also provide cybersecurity updates if a threat is detected or perceived. A cybersecurity professional must be well-versed with SIEM automation and must be able to understand SIEM reporting and analysis to ensure an adequate response to reported threats.
- Compliance with law: There are several data protection laws, guidelines and regulations that every organization in the jurisdiction must abide by, depending on the nature of business carried out by it. One of the most important of all cybersecurity qualifications is the ability to conduct a detailed review of the organization’s compliance with these regulations and guidelines since failure to do so would attract massive fines and penalties. HIPAA, SOX, PC, GDPR, ISO 27001 and so on are some examples of such regulations.
- Analytical strength: A cybersecurity specialist must be in a position to use computer intelligence and analytical information available to him to quickly identify any potential cybersecurity threats or problems and ensure that they do not recur in the future.
- Firewall operation: The denial of access to networks and data to those who are not authorized to access them is a massive part of the cybersecurity process. Therefore, anyone wishing to be successful in the field must be able to use firewalls or Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) and successfully filter out unauthorized or potentially harmful network traffic.
- Application security: Any application requires constant improvements to its security features to keep it safe and eliminate vulnerabilities. An expert, therefore, must be able to identify such vulnerabilities and fix them at all stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) starting from pre-launch debugging to post-launch security updates.
- Advanced malware prevention: The use of advanced threat protection programmes and software must be mastered in order to prevent and nullify Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) that may be able to bypass the usual security protocols such as anti-virus programmes and firewalls.
- Data handling: The cybersecurity job description extends far beyond just merely protecting large amounts of data. It also requires efficient and secure handling, storing, and continuous data analysis to ensure that it is safe and protected at all times.
- Digital forensics: An extension of analytical qualities, a cybersecurity practitioner should be able to efficiently put to use digital forensic tools to investigate and detect any form of the data leak, anomalies or cyber-attacks against the organization and also to thwart such attempts before they are successful.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM): A good cybersecurity specialist is one who has an excellent understanding of the current best practices in the field of Identity and Access Management (IAM) in order to be able to draft an effective security protocol to be put in place at an organization that can prevent unauthorized access and maintain data security.
11) Where is cybersecurity applied?
The implications of having a world that is so reliant and dependent on technology are that there is almost no field where cybersecurity does not need to be employed. There are numerous applications of cybersecurity in the real world, and the following are just some examples of situations and organizations where cybersecurity plays an important role.
- Online money transactions: One of the major cybersecurity benefits is that individuals can freely send or receive any amount of money through the internet without having to undergo any hassle. Cybersecurity becomes important for any activity that involves online payments such as e-commerce, cloud services, online banking and so on.
- Personal systems and devices: While a lot of attention is paid to enterprises, individuals on their personal systems too could lose valuable data and information if they are not careful. Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that individuals are safe while browsing and are cybersecurity aware to prevent untoward incidents.
- Financial institutions: Financial institutions such as stock markets and banks arguably face the highest levels of risk in terms of cybersecurity and the efficient application of cybersecurity in such institutions is often a legal necessity, not an option.
- Businesses: As discussed extensively, businesses need to protect the data they collect and their systems and networks. This can be done with the help of strong cybersecurity policies.
- Government and defence: Governments and their defence departments often are subject to cyber-attack attempts, and due to the level of sensitivity of the information, cybersecurity is paramount.
These are just a few examples of the applications of cybersecurity and today, cybersecurity is used in some form or another in almost every field and industry, from the transportation and automobile industries to IoT devices that make our everyday lives easier.
12) Challenges in the field of cybersecurity
The cybersecurity field is not just growing at a rapid pace but is also being continually challenged by various factors.
- Constantly evolving risks: The primary challenge in the field is the constantly evolving nature of security risks with new methods being adopted by hackers from time to time in order to exploit weaknesses and steal data. This is because with the emergence of new and revolutionary technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, newer means of cyber-attacks are also being devised.
- Lack of cybersecurity awareness: Another cybersecurity challenge involves end-user education in terms of combatting cyber-attacks. The lack of cybersecurity awareness could lead to end-users allowing malware to infect systems and networks and failing to follow due diligence to avoid data loss.
- Shortage of experts: Finally, there is a huge shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the field. It is estimated that around 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs exist as of 2021, and this number will only rise unless concerted efforts are made to train and encourage more individuals to enter the field.
13) Cybersecurity books
The following are some excellent cybersecurity books written by the top experts in the field that can be useful for all levels of professionals; beginner, intermediate or advanced.
- Hacking: A Beginners’ Guide to Computer Hacking, Basic Security, And Penetration Testing by John Slavio: This introductory book deals with cybersecurity history, introduction to hacking, types of hackers, various types of cyber-attacks, essential hacking tools and software, and the use and importance of hiding IP addresses. Mobile hacking, email address hacking and penetration testing are some of the other topics covered.
- Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson: This book focuses primarily on network and computer security. It will help one understand how connections are hijacked, how encrypted wireless traffic can be cracked and how brute-force attacks can be sped up.
- Penetration Testing: A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking by Georgia Weidman: Read this book to gain a deep insight into the area of penetration testing that deals with the discovery of weaknesses in operating systems, networks and applications. The book will tell you how penetration testing is carried out and also help you learn how to crack passwords, bypass anti-virus software, launch automated attacks and how to use the Metasploit framework.
- Practical Malware Analysis: The Hands-On Guide to Dissecting Malicious Software by Michael Sikorski and Andrew Honig: The concept of malware and the risks it poses to cybersecurity has already been explained in this article. With this book’s help on practical malware analysis, you will be acquainted with the numerous techniques and tools employed by analysts to detect, debug, and neutralize malicious software. It will also teach you how to set up a safe virtual environment to analyse the malware, crack it open and understand the extent of damage caused.
- Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking by Christopher Hadnagy: Social engineering depends primarily on errors made by human beings that allow others to gain access to confidential and sensitive information. This book goes into the most commonly used social engineering methods and teaches you how to analyse them and prepare yourself to defend against such forms of attack.
- Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C by Bruce Schneier: This book comprehensively deals with all aspects of modern cryptography and explains how professionals can make use of cryptography to encrypt and decrypt messages and sensitive communications to solve security problems.
- Black Hat Python: Python Programming for Hackers and Pen-testers by Justin Seitz: Many exploit frameworks that are used to launch malicious cyber-attacks are written in Python, and therefore this book becomes very important to the field of cybersecurity. The book delves into the creation of a trojan command-and-control, detection of sandboxing as well as the automation of common malware tasks. The book covers the darker side of the vast capabilities of Python that includes how it can be used to write network sniffers, infect virtual machines and create stealthy trojans. Topics such as networking fundamentals, windows privilege escalation tricks, web applications etc. are also dealt with in detail.
- The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws by Dafydd Stuttard and Marcus Pinto: This book focuses on updated web applications, how they can be exposed to attacks and how fraudulent transactions can be executed. The latest step-by-step methods of attacking and defending web applications are explained in detail. The book also deals with new remoting frameworks, HTML5, UI redress, attacking authentication, finding vulnerabilities in source code and hybrid file attacks, among other such concepts.
14) Is a career in cybersecurity possible?
As the cybersecurity landscape continues to grow at an accelerating rate, aided by the artificial intelligence boom of recent times, more and more individuals with cybersecurity skills and awareness are being sought after to protect against data theft and cyber-attacks. There are several paths that one can take to become a cybersecurity analyst. However, one must necessarily possess some form of certification in one of the various areas of cybersecurity to be considered for a job as an analyst. Here are some ways by which you can become a cybersecurity analyst and pursue a career in cybersecurity.
- Pursue a formal degree: The best way to become a cybersecurity professional is to look for universities that offer a specialized undergraduate course in cybersecurity or other closely-related fields. Some employers may not always look for formal degrees and in some cases may accept individuals who have undertaken a specialized certification course or instruction module from a reputed organization or institution.
- Specialize in any one area of cybersecurity: Cybersecurity as a field is extremely vast and contains hundreds of important concepts that are capable of being exclusive subjects of study by themselves. Specializing in any one of these concepts such as computer language programming, operating systems, penetration testing and so on could go a long way in boosting your chances of being employed as a cybersecurity professional in a top firm or enterprise. This specialization is usually done in the form of a Master’s degree.
- Give experience priority: Cybersecurity is one field where on-the-job experience is extremely valuable and must arguably be prioritized overpay at least in the initial stages of one’s career. This experience not only boosts the amount of knowledge and expertise that you possess about the latest cybersecurity features but also greatly enhances your cybersecurity resume, which will lead to better job opportunities in the future.
With the rapid increase in the number of cyber threats, there is an ever-growing demand for cybersecurity personnel who possess the requisite skills and knowledge to excel and contribute effectively to the organizations that hire them. Some of the important specialist postings that are usually available in the field of cybersecurity include the following.
- Chief information security officer (CISO): A CISO is in charge of implementing the agreed cybersecurity framework across all the departments of the organization and to supervise the information security department’s functioning.
- Cybersecurity engineer: A cybersecurity engineer is one who is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the company’s data assets from the various cyber threats and ensure that the company’s IT infrastructure is always up to the mark and not disrupted by cybersecurity concerns.
- Cybersecurity architect: A cybersecurity architect is one who is tasked with the planning, designing, maintenance and testing of the company’s core, critical infrastructure which needs to be able to perform all its functions efficiently without any interruptions and untoward stoppages.
- Cybersecurity analyst: A cybersecurity analyst is an individual who is hired to undertake several wide responsibilities within the organization, such as coming up with the best possible security protocols that can effectively protect digital networks and systems. He/she is also entrusted with the job of conducting both internal and external security audits to ensure optimal operation of the cybersecurity framework and to guarantee compliance with law and regulations.
As is clear, cybersecurity in a firm or enterprise cannot be single-handedly managed by any one individual. It requires constant cooperation and communication between various individuals who are supposed to work in tandem to secure the company’s assets against any and all threats.
15) Cybersecurity-related interview questions
The following cybersecurity interview questions are those that are most commonly asked in interviews conducted by enterprises looking to hire cybersecurity professionals. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list by any means but will certainly provide you with a starting point wherein you will have a clear idea about the kind of questions that you will have to face in such interviews. The most common questions asked are as follows.
- What is the meaning of cryptography?
- What is a firewall, and what does it do?
- What is a VPN?
- What is the difference between IDS and IPS?
- Name some of the most common types of cyber-attacks.
- What is a man-in-the-middle attack, and how can it be prevented?
- What is data leakage?
- What is the difference between encryption and hacking?
- How does Vulnerability Assessment differ from Penetration Testing?
- What is a brute-force attack, and how can it be prevented?
16) How much does a cybersecurity professional earn?
Cybersecurity as a profession is slowly spreading across different countries, and with time, interesting figures are emerging with respect to the pay that cybersecurity professionals receive. For example, India has seen a massive surge in cybersecurity as an employment option, and the average cybersecurity salary of a professional in the field is anywhere between Rs. 5,00,000/- to Rs. 14,00,000/- per annum, depending on the nature of the job and the experience of the individual.
In the United States, the average annual salary of a cybersecurity professional varies from state to state with professionals in major cities like New York and San Francisco earning upwards of $110,000 per annum on average. Despite such geographical disparities in salaries, a cybersecurity professional will always earn a respectable income with immense scope for growth and increment.
We hope that with this article, you now have a clear idea of what the field of cybersecurity deals with and what it has to offer to those who are interested in pursuing it as a career. Cybersecurity as an industry is only going to grow exponentially in the coming years, and it shows no signs of slowing down whatsoever. If you are looking to take a leap into this exciting field or just want to get to know about it better, we wish you the best of luck!
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