In the modern age, our lives are deeply entangled with digital technology, creating a vast web of connections that span across the globe. As we become increasingly reliant on these connections to navigate daily life, it becomes equally important to understand how exploitable these connections can be.
There's a fascinating dynamic between those who protect networks, systems and data, and those who attempt to penetrate them, creating a unique challenge for cybersecurity professionals. Cybersecurity is a digital battleground where defenders and attackers constantly engage in a high-stakes, ever-evolving game of strategy and tactics.
Attackers and other cybercriminals often attempt to gain unauthorized access to, modify, or corrupt sensitive information, extort money from users, or disrupt normal business operations.
Defenders, on the other hand, work to secure networks, systems, information technology, and data. Cybersecurity professionals are responsible for anticipating vulnerabilities, designing robust security measures, and rapidly responding to incidents.
This ongoing struggle makes cybersecurity an especially intriguing and captivating field for individuals willing to tangle with cybersecurity threats on a regular basis.
However, cybersecurity isn't a monolith but a multifaceted field with various domains and specializations.
So, for today, we'll take a closer look at four key domains within cybersecurity.
Let's get started!
- An overview of 4 different types of cybersecurity
- Network Security
- Why is network security important?
- Examples of network security measures
- Common network security threats
- Application Security
- Why is application security important?
- Examples of application security measures
- Common application security threats
- Endpoint Security
- Why is endpoint security important?
- Examples of endpoint security measures
- Common endpoint security threats
- Cloud Security
- Why is cloud security important?
- Examples of cloud security measures
- Common cloud security threats
- Network Security
- Additional types of cybersecurity
- Social Engineering and Cybersecurity
- Wrapping up and next steps
Each aspect of cybersecurity that we're about to go over addresses specific threats and vulnerabilities. Before we dive right into the dry technical details, here's a quick metaphor to help illustrate the differences between the four types of cybersecurity:
Let's say, for instance, that your software application is a building containing valuable assets you want to protect.
Network security protects data transmission across networks using firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and secure protocols like SSL/TLS.
- This type of security can be thought of as the security guard assigned to the entrance of a building, controlling who can enter and leave. This guard ensures only authorized individuals can access the building while keeping potential intruders out.
Application security ensures software security by addressing vulnerabilities and threats using secure coding, testing tools, and regular patching.
- This type of security can be considered a locked vault within the building, protecting valuable items (like data) inside. The vault has robust security measures to prevent unauthorized access and tampering.
Endpoint security safeguards individual devices connected to a network, using antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems.
- Endpoint security performs a similar function to individual security alarms installed inside each room of the building. These alarms monitor for signs of intrusion or unauthorized activity and trigger a response if any threats are detected, protecting the specific areas within the building.
Cloud security protects data, applications, and infrastructure in cloud environments using encryption, access management, and security monitoring tools.
- Cloud security would be more like a highly secure, off-site storage facility where your valuable assets can be kept and accessed remotely. This facility would employ a combination of physical and digital security measures to ensure that only authorized individuals can access the stored items.
Network security refers to the processes and practices designed to safeguard computer networks from unauthorized access, misuse, or damage. It involves implementing both hardware and software solutions to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of network infrastructure.
Network security protects data transmission across networks using firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and secure protocols like SSL/TLS. This can also involve securing DNS servers and routers to prevent cyber attacks and unauthorized access to the network.
It is the first line of defense against external threats.
Network security is crucial for protecting sensitive data, preventing unauthorized access to systems, and ensuring the smooth operation of your network.
A secure network forms the foundation for the overall cybersecurity of an organization or individual, ensuring that data and communications are safe from threats. Network security also plays a significant role in maintaining user trust and meeting regulatory and compliance requirements.
- Firewalls: These are hardware or software-based systems that control incoming and outgoing network traffic. They act as a barrier between trusted and untrusted networks, allowing only authorized traffic to pass through.
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): VPNs create a secure, encrypted tunnel for data transmission between a user's device and the network, ensuring that data remains confidential and cannot be intercepted.
- Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS): IDS monitors network traffic for suspicious activity, alerting administrators to potential threats.
- Secure Network Protocols: Protocols like HTTPS and SSL/TLS provide secure communication over the internet by encrypting data transmitted between devices.
- Malware: Malicious software such as viruses, worms, and Trojans that can infect and compromise systems.
- Phishing Attacks: Cyber attackers use deceptive emails and websites to trick users into revealing sensitive information or installing malware.
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks: Attackers overwhelm a network or website with a flood of traffic, rendering it unavailable to users.
- Unauthorized Access: Hackers exploit network vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data and systems.
Application security refers to the process of protecting apps from external threats and vulnerabilities by identifying, fixing, and preventing security weaknesses within the software. This can also involve protecting against advanced persistent threats (APTs) that target specific applications or systems.
It encompasses the entire software development lifecycle, from design and development to deployment and maintenance.
Application security is vital because it protects sensitive data stored and processed by software applications. It helps maintain user trust and prevents the exploitation of vulnerabilities that could lead to data breaches or other cyber attacks. Furthermore, secure applications contribute to the overall security posture of an organization by minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or data leakage.
- Web Application Firewalls (WAF): Designed to protect web applications from common attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection by filtering traffic before it reaches the web server.
- Static Application Security Testing (SAST): Analyzes application source code to identify potential security vulnerabilities before the application is deployed.
- Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): Tests running applications to identify vulnerabilities that may have been missed by SAST.
- Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP): Monitors application behavior in real-time and can detect and prevent attacks such as injection attacks and unauthorized access.
- SQL Injection: An attacker submits malicious SQL code through user inputs, which can compromise the database and expose sensitive information.
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): An attacker injects malicious scripts into web applications, which can execute in the user's browser and potentially compromise their data or security.
- Broken Authentication and Session Management: Weaknesses in authentication and session management can allow attackers to assume the identities of legitimate users and access their data.
- Insecure Deserialization: Deserializing untrusted data without proper validation can lead to remote code execution or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
Endpoint security focuses on protecting individual devices like computers and mobile devices from potential cyber threats.
This can involve implementing antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems, as well as keeping operating systems and applications up to date with the latest security patches. This can also involve implementing incident response plans to quickly detect and respond to potential cyber threats.
Endpoint security is essential because these devices are often the primary targets of cyber attackers. Securing endpoints ensures that sensitive data and systems are protected from unauthorized access and malware infections.
Additionally, as more employees work remotely and use personal devices to access corporate data, protecting these endpoints from potential threats becomes increasingly important.
- Antivirus Software: Antivirus software scans files and devices for known malware signatures, preventing infections and removing malicious code.
- File Integrity Monitoring (FIM): FIM solutions monitor changes to files and directories on endpoint devices, alerting security teams to potential threats or unauthorized modifications to critical system files.
- Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS): HIPS solutions provide advanced intrusion prevention capabilities, detecting and blocking potential threats on endpoint devices in real-time.
- Device Encryption: Encrypting the data stored on devices to protect against unauthorized access in the event of device theft or loss.
- Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Focuses on detecting and mitigating potential threats on individual devices, using a combination of technologies such as signature-based detection, behavioral analysis, and machine learning. EDR enables organizations to detect and respond to potential threats in real time, improving their overall security posture.
- Sandboxing: Sandboxing solutions create isolated environments for executing potentially malicious files, applications, or code on endpoint devices, providing a safe way to test and analyze potential threats.
- Ransomware: A type of malware that encrypts the victim's data and demands payment for its release.
- Spyware: Malicious software that secretly monitors users' activities and collects sensitive information without their consent.
- Trojans: Malware disguised as legitimate software can provide a backdoor for attackers to access and control the infected system.
- Zero-Day Exploits: Attacks that exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities in software or hardware which the vendor has not yet patched.
Cloud security refers to the policies, technologies, and controls put in place to protect data, applications, and critical infrastructure in cloud computing environments.
This includes securing data stored in public, private, or hybrid cloud environments and protecting the underlying cloud infrastructure. This can also involve conducting regular risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats in the cloud environment.
Cloud security is important because it ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data and services hosted in the cloud. As more organizations and individuals adopt cloud-based solutions, it's crucial to have robust security measures in place to protect against potential threats, meet compliance requirements, and maintain user trust.
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): SIEM solutions are used to monitor cloud environments for security events and anomalies, allowing security teams to quickly detect and respond to potential threats.
- Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs): CASBs are security solutions that sit between an organization's on-premises infrastructure and cloud services to enforce security policies and provide visibility into cloud usage.
- Access Controls: Implementing strong authentication and authorization mechanisms to restrict access to cloud resources based on user roles and privileges.
- Encryption: Encrypting data stored in the cloud and during transmission to prevent unauthorized access.
- Secure Data Transmission: Using secure communication protocols like SSL/TLS or HTTPS to protect data in transit between users and cloud services.
- Data Breaches: Unauthorized access to or exposure of sensitive data stored in the cloud.
- Account Hijacking: Attackers gain control of cloud service accounts to carry out malicious activities or access sensitive data.
- Insider Threats: Malicious actions by employees or other trusted individuals with access to cloud resources.
- Misconfigurations: Inadequate or incorrect security settings can leave cloud resources vulnerable to attack, leading to data breaches or unauthorized access.
Here are some additional types of cybersecurity that you may encounter:
- Information Security: Focuses on protecting information systems and data from unauthorized access, while cybersecurity encompasses protecting computer systems, networks, and data from digital attacks.
- Infrastructure Security: A set of practices, processes, and technologies designed to protect an organization's physical and digital infrastructure, including its hardware, software, network devices, data centers, and other critical components, from potential cyber threats. These measures include physical security controls such as access controls, monitoring, and security systems, as well as digital security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and network segmentation.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM): A set of processes and technologies used to manage and control access to systems and data, ensuring that only authorized users can access sensitive resources.
- Mobile Device Security: As more people use mobile devices to access the internet and store sensitive data, mobile device security has become increasingly important. Mobile device security measures help protect devices and end users from cybercrimes like malware and data theft.
- Internet of Things (IoT) Security: IoT security refers to the security measures used to protect connected devices and systems, such as smart homes and industrial control systems, from cyber threats.
- Behavioral Analytics: A type of cybersecurity that uses machine learning algorithms to detect anomalous behavior that could indicate a cyber attack or security breach.
If you're new to the world of cybersecurity, it can be overwhelming to navigate all the different best practices and guidelines. One resource that can help is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework.
This framework provides a set of guidelines and best practices for managing and reducing cybersecurity risks and is widely adopted by organizations of all sizes and types.
Despite robust technical security measures, social engineering attacks can bypass the most advanced security systems by targeting the weakest link in the security chain: people. Cybercriminals use social engineering to bypass security controls, gain access to critical data or systems, or deliver malware and viruses to targeted individuals or organizations.
Social engineering is a critical aspect of cybersecurity, as it involves exploiting human behavior to gain unauthorized access to systems, data, or sensitive information.
Social engineering techniques can include phishing emails, pretexting, baiting, and other methods that aim to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information or taking actions that can compromise security. Cybercriminals often use phishing scams to try and trick people into providing their credit card information because it's lucrative and relatively easy to obtain.
To pursue a career in cybersecurity, it's important to have a strong foundation in computer science, information technology, or a related field. Many cybersecurity jobs also require industry certifications, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification.
So, what's next?
An indispensable tool for cybersecurity that you can learn to use today is the Command Line Interface (CLI). It's important to become comfortable using the command line because it's fundamental for interacting with computer systems, managing files, and accessing network information.
To get started with mastering the CLI, consider checking out our Master the Bash Shell course. This comprehensive resource will help you unlock the full potential of the command line and pave the way for you to become an effective cybersecurity expert.
- Bash cheat sheet: Top 25 commands
- Guide to Cybersecurity: Learn how to defend your systems
- What is ethical hacking and penetration testing? Get paid to hack
What cybersecurity concepts would you like to see covered next? Was this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below!