Cyber Security 101

Lesson 1

Explaining cyber security

Welcome to Lesson 1 in cyber security

The info, advice and tips we’ll be sharing with you over 10 lessons will go a long way towards ensuring your online practices and your computer systems are protected.

What is cyber security?

Cyber security is the practice of protecting your applications, your information and your computer systems from unauthorised access and exploitation via email and the Internet. Another name for cyber security is information technology (IT) security. 

Before you can put security measures in place you need to know what kind of security you need.

The four major areas that cyber security encompasses are:

Information (data) security

Information security has become more important as information has become more valuable. In today’s world data is hot property and hackers are out to get their hands on it.

Whether you keep your personal documents, professional documents, images and emails on your computer or in the cloud, you need to protect them in the same way. Why? Because having an Internet connection means that hackers are able to access the data on your computer while you’re online.

You can protect your information by:

  1. Using a (strong) password to log on to your laptop and other mobile devices, and of course for your online accounts
  2. Using two-step authentication whenever it’s available
  3. Setting strong security questions in case of a security breach
  4. Enabling alerts from online banking and email so you can be contacted if your account is hacked
  5. Setting editing privileges, such as read-only permission, when you share documents and enable alerts to documents being modified

Application security

Application security involves the use of software, hardware and regular actions to protect your apps from cyber threats. Globally used apps such as Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and Oracle Java have been repeatedly used by hackers to execute their cyber crimes. 

You can improve your app security by:

  1. Setting your preferences to automatically update your operating system
  2. Updating your browser as soon as a new version becomes available, or
  3. Using security software to update and patch your apps automatically

Network security

Network security involves using software and hardware technology to protect all points in a computer network. A weakness arriving at one computer station can quickly spread to all stations on a network, so it’s a vital aspect of cyber security. 

You can achieve network security by:

  1. Installing antivirus and anti-spyware
  2. Enabling a firewall to block unauthorised access to your network
  3. Installing an intrusion prevention system (IPS) to fend off a fast-moving threat such as a zero-day attack
  4. Enabling port filtering and malware detection
  5. Obtaining a virtual private network (VPN) to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet, such as while accessing your work network remotely

Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is an IT process that minimises the effects of a major or minor disruption and keeps your business running while the disruption is being sorted out. In other words, it’s a reactive plan to 1) ensure your data loss is a temporary problem and 2) enable you to restore your business operations fast.

Because each business is different, a disaster recovery plan should be tailored to suit the business’s particular needs.

A disaster recovery plan needs to:

  1. Monitor your computer processes and endpoints continually
  2. Detect malicious behaviour before it can cause harm 
  3. Provide reporting via security alerts.

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Now you should have an idea about what cyber security encompasses.

In Lesson 2 we’ll look at how to secure your network and data with tools and actions.

Note: This content is general advice and should not be construed as paid-for cyber security advice and instruction.

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