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Cybersecurity Basics for Beginners

illustration of computer and digital scammers

Cybersecurity Basics for Beginners

Sound familiar?

  • You know your business needs a strong cybersecurity posture, but aren’t really sure what steps you should take
  • You need tactical insight and direction as you make larger IT and security decisions
  • You don’t need (or want) to become an expert yourself – just to be educated and aware of the basics of cybersecurity

 

You’re in the right place.

Cybersecurity isn’t a small topic or something that can be addressed and checked off your list with a quick antivirus download. It’s a dominant part of any technology discussion, especially when it comes to maintaining a tight grip on your networks, IT infrastructure, and remote workplaces. In answer to the call, the cybersecurity field has exploded in growth.
With so much of our lives, work, and private information stored online, cyber threats and attacks have become more sophisticated and prevalent than ever before. As a business owner or manager, you have to know what these threats look like and how to protect your assets.
The good news is that you don’t need to have all the answers or to provide your own solutions. Being aware of the need is a huge start, then aligning yourself with a cybersecurity professional.


 

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the strategic deployment of certain measures designed to protect your networks, data, programs, software, and devices from criminal activity.

In other words, it encompasses every step and safety check you have in place, plus constant monitoring of your assets for suspicious activity. Being both proactive and reactive is key, especially as you look for ways to contain threats and minimize damage to network security. Think of it as a water leak: if you catch it quickly and early, you can slow the impact, but if it goes unchecked, the results can be catastrophic.

 


 

Cybersecurity basic concepts

The list of related terms and definitions here is a language all its own, but it’s helpful to have a quick glossary for reference as you learn more about the types of attacks.

 

Network

A connection of two or more computers, enabling them to communicate with each other. Your network might include servers, cables, satellites, routers, or another transmission device.

 

Wireless network

While a premise-based network is the physical connection of two or more computers, wireless networks leverage the internet to create an online network. Very useful for remote collaboration, but definitely opens the door to security vulnerabilities.

 

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Using tunneling, IP traffic is typically securely encrypted between two endpoints so that the transmission travels securely over a public TCP/IP network. Instead of using a dedicated, real-world connection like a leased line, a VPN uses “virtual” connections routed through the internet from the one endpoint. For example, you could connect a business’s private network to the remote endpoint site; typically an employee.

 

Cloud-based services

Cloud-Based Services refer to data, services, and telephone services based on off-site servers and equipment that are connected via the internet or “cloud.”

 

Two-factor authentication and biometric verification

Enabling two-factor authentication means that there is a second step involved in the login process. Typically, it’s a passcode sent to the number of your choosing or a randomly generated code on a password generator.

 

Encryption

When your digital data is encrypted, it means that the content is encoded by an algorithm. If you don’t have the correct passcode, the data is literally unreadable and unusable. This is why we recommend encrypted password managers.

 

Malware infection

Malicious software is designed to damage, compromise, or even destroy your system and devices.

 

Ransomware attack

Ransomware can render your network or essential computer applications useless until you pay a ransom, often using encryption technology to lock you out of your own data.

 

Phishing

Scams are designed to trick you into opening the door to malware. Most often they are carefully-crafted messages asking you to download a file, confirm credentials, or click through to a specific website.

 


 

Cybersecurity tips for browsing the internet

As we mentioned above, your first line of defense is to partner with an IT and cybersecurity team.

There are defensive measures you can take to help prevent common security breaches and unauthorized access.

At the same time, it’s important to deploy safe browsing techniques as part of your strong cybersecurity posture. To dust off the old adage, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Here are a few key browsing tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep antivirus software up to date. We just said above that you can’t rely on antivirus software for protection, but it’s still an important piece of your security toolkit. If it detects a cyberattack or online threat, be sure to heed the warning. And remember that it’s just that: a warning, not a guarantee of protection, so proceed with caution.
  • Use unique passwords. Sure, it’s nice to only have to remember one password, but it also means that you’re handing a skeleton key to those trying to gain entry. This is another reason why an encrypted password manager is so helpful.
  • Check the URL. When you visit a website, the URL in your search bar should start with “https.” The “s” means that SSL encryption is in place. Also, look for a little padlock symbol right there as well.
  • Be careful on public Wi-Fi. Joining that free hotspot might be handy, but it also can serve up your data on a silver platter. Unprotected networks are rife with cybersecurity threats, so watch what you do and share.
  • Use common sense. Malicious attacks can be carried out even if you follow every best practice. Most of the time, however, cybersecurity vulnerabilities are created by very common mistakes, avoiding warning signs (sometimes literal warning signs from their computer), or skipping security measures in an effort to save time. What are the odds that something will happen? Well, you might actually be surprised.

 


 

Cybersecurity tips for your data

Data is everything to your business, right? Here’s how you can protect it:
  • Use VPNs. We know that more and more work is being done remotely, and in response, premise-based networks are giving way to online work environments. For maximum cloud security, we recommend using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). This way, your shared data is encrypted, making it much safer than traditional Wi-Fi networks.
  • Backup and disaster recovery. You know that sick frustration that comes from losing a document you’ve been working on? Maybe the power flickered or your computer froze? Now imagine losing all the data archived within your computer systems and networks. It can be devastating, not to mention a major liability if sensitive client information is lost or falls into the wrong hands. This is why backup and disaster recovery are an integral part of a thorough cybersecurity plan, making sure you can triage the situation and access vital information.
  • Risk assessments. Cybersecurity professionals can review your network architecture and stored data, then make a plan to help shore up the areas that are most at risk. This is a vital pillar of your overall approach, identifying and remediating weak points before they’re leveraged against you. This is also a perfect segue into Indicators of Compromise (IOCs), and why you need to be actively monitoring your network and systems for anomalies.
  • Training, awareness, and security policies. Most cybersecurity threats and attacks can be traced back to good old-fashioned human error. Make sure to train your employees and make cybersecurity a team sport.
  • Patches and updates. Those reminders to update your software can be pesky, but they often include essential security updates and patches (fixes to cover a flaw).

 


 

The takeaway?

No silver bullet will protect your data, or remove risk from the equation. It’s a series of intentional steps, awareness, and measures that you can take, each one interlocking with the next to build a protective wall around your networks and data. Take it seriously, and start right away.

If you have more questions about cybersecurity issues or would like to start with a free cybersecurity audit, please contact us at Teltek! We’re here to help, providing IT services and solutions to businesses and organizations just like yours.

Teltek Blogger


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