Fundamentals of Cybersecurity for Security Enthusiasts
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity provides developers ways to secure data and the internet for others. It defines processes, practices, programs, laws, and devices that are used to preserve the fundamental rule of security. As we move towards securing personal information, the amount of intellectual property and essential information has expanded at the same rate as its use.
There is a fundamental need to protect user data and the organization's cybersecurity infrastructure. For this, different assets are subject to various testing methods, just as network devices and web applications are subject to application security.
Understanding Basic Terminology
Vulnerability: Vulnerabilities are the "weaknesses" in the system, using which an attacker can compromise the system or the whole network. By identifying, categorizing, remediating, and mitigating vulnerabilities, the security team can manage the vulnerability.
Exploit: Exploits are codes that take advantage of a system flaw. We can have exploits that automatically exploit a vulnerability; nothing else is needed.
Payload: A payload is a real message or part of a communication containing malware, a virus, or a worm. Payloads are used to remove data, encrypt data, or spam.
Firewall: Firewalls are devices that monitor the inbound/outbound filter traffic so that illegal network access is prevented and harmful data packets are prevented from entering the network.
Intrusion prevention system/intrusion detection system: These devices are used to identify threats based on their signatures and prevent identified threats. The administrator can construct their own signature and work on the created signature.
Let's talk about different strategies for protecting users' online identities.
1. Two-Factor Authentication
2FA provides an additional level of safety by authenticating users from details other than just their username and password. Thus, the user must first input their username and password in the first layer of authentication. Then, they must enter a token in the second layer. This token can be sent by email, Google authenticator, SMS, or RSA token.
Note: A business normally sets the second level of authentication to prevent unauthorized access to the account. So, it depends upon the company to choose what technology they want to utilize for user authorization, such as OTP, Smart Cards, etc.
2. Data Encryption
Encryption the data during rest and motion because it prevents attackers from obtaining information if the system is compromised. As the data is encrypted and decrypted every time it is accessed, the attacker needs the key, which is practically impossible to obtain.
3. Updating Software Regularly
Admin must always keep updated versions of the software that is being used, including servers, antiviruses, operating systems, and browsers. An attacker may leverage a vulnerability in outdated software to exploit your network.
4. Password Managers
You can use password managers that generate strong passwords and can safely store them so that an attacker cannot steal them or break them.
Do-It-Yourself Cybersecurity Practices
Do not use public Wi-Fi or unprotected networks unless absolutely unnecessary and please be careful when you connect.
Keep changing passwords and adopt a powerful network password policy.
Regularly back up your data so you can check or replace compromised data on the server with old data if some harmful behavior occurs.
Provide personnel training for employees to secure your company from social engineering attacks.
An Important Resource: The OWASP Top 10
The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is an online community that produces freely available methodologies, tools, articles, and documents related to cybersecurity. It has different types of categories, such as mobile web applications and API tests. Many projects have been started by this community, such as Vulnerable Applications, on which you can test the vulnerabilities.
OWASP puts out an OWASP Top 10 list of vulnerabilities in softwares. For example, they have listed injection, broken authentication, etc., on their list for web applications.
OWASP provides excellent examples of these vulnerabilities and their remedies. Security engineers, information security analysts, and other IT teams can utilize this to detect and address vulnerabilities by following the list. In fact, it operates as the gold standard in cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity beginners can follow the OWASP Top 10 and the OWASP testing guide to learn more about cybersecurity and penetration testing. They also have a cheat sheet that defines lots of vulnerabilities and how to remediate them in easy and understandable language so that a beginner can read and start their career in cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is now a requirement in every organization. Most companies are now dealing with user data. As this data is not their own, they have to ensure it is well protected to retain the trust of their users and not face penalties from the countries in which they operate. Thus, it is essential to secure the identity of users.
Users should also have some fundamental knowledge about cybersecurity terminology and methods. Organizations can easily follow security standards such as OWASP to secure their user data and improve the security of their organization.
Cover Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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