Cybersecurity can be a large and confusing subject at times. For those who don’t understand its basic terminology, the problem becomes even greater. Although we certainly can’t give you a world-class education on computer security with a single article, we can at least close the terminology gap for you. With that in mind, let’s look at some cybersecurity terms that all businesses should know.
1. Advanced Persistent Threat
Some cyberattacks follow a “hit and run” approach. They get in, they take what they want, and they get out before you know they were ever there. However, some others stick around for a while. By installing covert programs, they can give themselves back channels with which to move through your system undetected. This allows them to do a lot more damage over time.
2. Attack Surface
This is a term that covers any possible path of attack against your system/network. When people talk about “reducing one’s attack surface,” they are talking about minimizing the ways in which a malicious criminal can gain access. This will usually focus on the end-users of the system, as they are the easiest points of access.
Authentication is any procedure that is meant to establish someone’s identity. It can be something simple, like putting in a username and password. It can also be a little more complex, with phone verifications, CAPTCHA requirements, etc. Either way, it’s very important to pay special attention to this area of cybersecurity.
4. Denial-Of-Service Attack
This is a common type of attack in which hackers or other malicious actors will simply overload the network. Every time you try to log on to a certain website, a request file is sent. If the system gets too many requests at once, it can overload the system and cause a complete crash. Thankfully, these do not usually do any lasting damage and are more of an annoyance tactic than anything.
Encryption is the best way to render your data unreadable to others. Underneath the operating systems that we know so well, computer data actually consists of binary code. That’s essentially just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s in very specific patterns. When those numbers are jumbled up, the data is completely unreadable. The computer generates a key using the password, which is then used for decryption (rendering the data back into a readable form).
It has a cool-sounding name, but a firewall isn’t anything special. It is just a program or device that acts as a filter between you and the rest of the internet. A firewall must be configured with specific rules in order to be effective. These rules determine which connections are allowed and which ones are not. This won’t guard against unknown threats, but it will at least keep you safe against the known ones.
This is a particular type of malware (see that entry below). Once installed on your machine, a keylogger will record every keystroke that you make. It’s a simple kind of program, and it is quite effective. Using a keylogger, hackers can often steal passwords and bypass encryptions that they could never otherwise penetrate. For this reason, keyloggers are extremely dangerous.
Malware is just a general term for malicious software. It includes spyware, viruses, trojans, worms, keyloggers, and anything else that is used to attack or disable another machine.
Phishing is probably the easiest way to get hacked. Most authorities seem to agree that it is the most common path of attack for all forms of cyber-crime. This one falls under the category of a social engineering-type attack, as it targets users rather than the systems themselves.
The concept is simple: The attacker sends an email or text message containing a link. That link will be disguised as something legitimate and trustworthy. However, the user will unknowingly give permissions for malware to be installed. Thankfully, you can usually prevent these scams with careful vigilance and verification from the alleged source.
Ransomware is a type of malware that uses encryption as a weapon against the target. Instead of stealing your data, they encrypt it in place. Then, they send a ransom message offering to give you the password in exchange for money or other such things. Most of the time, those who pay the ransoms do not have their data returned. At times, these attacks have been used to cripple the infrastructure of entire cities.
A virus is another type of malware, and it’s a very well-known kind. Some people make the mistake of calling all malware “viruses,” but this is incorrect. A virus is distinguished by its ability to replicate itself and infect other systems. Basically, it behaves much like a real-life virus. It does not require any complex social engineering methods…it only requires that you have contact with an infected device or network. Sometimes viruses are even able to change their code a little bit with each generation, making them even harder to detect.
A worm is a specific type of virus, and it’s probably the worst kind. These are self-replicating and capable of infection through contact, much like any other virus. However, worms are a lot more aggressive. They will actually take control of a remote system and use them to spread the virus deliberately. This allows them to grow at an exponential rate and infect entire networks and systems with great speed.
Most businesses do not need to be experts in the field of cybersecurity. However, it would be foolish for anyone to ignore an obvious threat. That’s why it pays to educate yourself about these basic concepts. If nothing else, it helps to communicate more effectively with your technicians and employees. Thank you for reading our work, and please feel free to fill out the contact form.