Cyber Security

What is Cyber Security?

Information and communication technology (ICT) has become an integral part of our daily lives, without us even realizing it at times.  It seems that almost everything relies on computers and the Internet these days – communication, entertainment, transportation, shopping, medicine, etc.  How much of YOUR daily life relies on computers?  How much of your personal information is shared on the Internet?

Cyber security involves protecting that information by preventing, detecting and responding to attacks.

Why is Cyber Security Important?

Although the Internet provides a lot of opportunities, users should also be aware of the associated risks.  Cyber security risks – including malware, cyber bullying, identity theft, phishing and other online vulnerabilities – are increasing by the day.  Every risk has its own level of seriousness which requires their own levels of solutions.  Therefore, it demands us to remain vigilant about securing our systems, information and most importantly ourselves.

An unprotected computer (i.e. with no proper security controls in place) connected to the Internet can be compromised in minutes.  Thousands of infected websites can be found on the Internet.  New attacks by online attackers are launched continuously.

An infinite number of online risks are facing us…  This highlights the importance of cyber security to be part of our daily lives, to protect our systems, information and ourselves.  Steps should be taken to mitigate the chances of it happening to us, by increasing cyber security awareness.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines awareness as “The quality or state of being aware; consciousness.”  Aware is defined as “Informed; cognizant; conscious; sensible.”

Why is Cyber Security Awareness Important?

The confidentiality, integrity and availability of information of each individual must be protected.

Cyber security awareness is important because it highlights the importance of cyber security and the consequences it may have when an individual might fail to be safe online.  It also may reinforce knowledge already gained, but the goal is to change each individual’s online behaviour to be secure and safe.  The goal is to try and cultivate a cyber security culture.

Topics

Malware

Malware is a term used to describe all types of malicious software.  This might include viruses, Trojans, worms and spyware.  Malware might infiltrate your system and the information stored on your system for criminal, commercial or destructive purposes.
Malware is used to steal information such as credit card numbers, identities, etc. from the computer system it infects.  Other malware might be used to take over your computer system and use it for attacking other computer systems.  Additionally, malware might just be malicious, exclusively to destroy or corrupt information on your computer.

Malware can be spread through:

  • Email
  • Websites
  • Pop-Ups
  • Social Networking Sites
  • Software
  • Computer Media
  • Mobile Devices

Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying can be defined as, “bullying behaviour that takes place through electronic means such as sending threatening text messages, posting unpleasant things about people, and circulating unpleasant pictures or videos of someone.  Cyber bullying can be particularly upsetting and damaging because it spreads more widely, with a greater degree of publicity; it can contain damaging visual images or hurtful words; it is available 24 hours a day; it can infiltrate the victim’s privacy and the ‘safe’ place of home; and personal information can be manipulated, visual images altered and these then passed on to others” (Byron, 2008).

 

Social Networking

Social networking has become part of our lives.  Most of us access social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and instant messaging (IM) services like MXit, MSN and Yahoo Messenger, on a daily basis.  The problem with these kinds of online services is that they can be sanctuaries for stalkers and sexual predators.

Individuals using these online sites are sharing private information, without thinking of the consequences.  This is a huge privacy risk, because private information is now freely available to the public.  Real dangers exist on these sites!

Identity Theft

Identity theft is when an individual pretends to be someone else to steal money and to gain other benefits.  Identity theft can occur in various ways – somebody can use your credit card details illegally to buy something or somebody can steal your entire identity to open bank accounts, take out loans and to conduct illegal business under your name.  Having your identity stolen can be both financially and emotionally devastating.

Phishing

Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is when somebody tries to deceive you to obtain your personal information.  Usually it is done by sending emails that appear to come from a bank, school and business you trust.  These emails may include a link that takes you to a fake website that may look the same as the trusted website where they ask you for your password, account number or any other personal information.  This information can then be used to steal your identity.  Additionally, they can also send you a fake email asking to reply with your private information.

Find out more about these and other topics at Cyber Security Rules