Cyber Security Research

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cybersecurity essay topics

 

In the ever-changing global internet space, cyber-crimes have become more common than ever before. Almost everything we see on the internet today has some measure of cybersecurity. As you read this piece right now a measure of cybersecurity has been taken to protect your digital prints and the website. Have you ever wondered how many cameras you pass by every day; in the park or on the street? All these cameras have cybersecurity measures put in place to protect them from being turned against you.

 

Cybersecurity in its simplest term can be defined as measures we take to protect electronic systems, computers, mobile devices, servers, data and networks from attacks. It's also referred to as information security, electronic or technology. Technology development and continuous change in the internet space has opened up new ways for cyber-attack. To clearly understand what cybersecurity is all about first we need to take a look at it different categories.

 

    1. Application security: Just as the name suggests these are security measures undertaken to protect applications from possible cyberattacks. This is done mainly by finding and fixing an application's security vulnerability. A typical application has several levels of lifecycle namely design phase, development phase, deployment and maintenance phase. The maintenance phase in many cases includes both upgrades and updates. At all these phases it’s important to often find and fix any threats.

 

    2.  Network security: Consists of network policies meant to control access to a computer network. The policies control and monitor unauthorized access. In a given network, users are assigned unique identification and password that allow them access to specific information and programs. These identifications go a long way in monitoring access and modification to different programs within the network.

 

    3. Information security: Information security deals mainly with data privacy. In recent times the issue of data privacy has become crucial. Most applications we use in everyday aspects of our life have access to a certain level of personal information. Given the risk posed with loss of this data institutions and government have taken security measures to protect privacy infringement. These measures are commonly referred to us information security.

 

    4. Operation security: closely related to network security. Operation security involves the policies and guidelines for handling data assets. This includes users' permissions to access data and storage. Where else network security deals with mainly with securing infrastructure and systems, operation security deals with guidelines limiting access to the available data and programs.  

 

    5. Disaster recovery and business continuity: These are laid down rules that define how an organization deals with incidents of cyber-attacks or events leading to loss of data or invasion of privacy. Just as the name suggests disaster recovery involves policies to restore operation to normal. While business continuity deals with laid down plans institution use while operating without given resources to enable it to fall back to and operate normally.

 

    6. End-user education: On many occasions, cybercrimes happens when attackers use unsuspecting individuals to introduce a virus to a network. This can be as simple as clicking on a malicious link accidentally or innocently plugging an unidentified external storage device. Given the risk, involved organizations must educate its network users on the best cybersecurity practices. 

  

Types of cybersecurity threats


 

The growth in information and technology world has left many a challenging task of monitoring and deterring threats. In today's world, cyber threat occurs in three major forms.

 

    a. Cyber terrorism: Just as the name suggests these are threat intended to cause panic and fear

    b. Cyber-attack: These are attacks carried out with a political agenda in mind.

    c. Cybercrime: Perhaps the most common of the three. Cybercrimes are attacks carried out with financial aims.

 

Now lets look at how these attacks are carried out and what channels are used to infiltrate computer systems. Some of the most common methods include

 

    1. Malware 

Malware is malicious software that is designed to gain unauthorized access in a given computer system. It's worth noting that normal software can be termed as malware when it acts against the interest of computer users or when it secretly gaining unauthorized information. In most a malware is created with financial motive in mind. To understand how malware work we first need to look at some of the most common malware

 

    a. Virus: Virus is one of the most common malware today virtually anyone who uses a computer system regularly has heard the term. They are very similar to a biological virus in terms of how they work. The work by attaching themselves on a clean file where they rapidly spread to other files in the system. They spread easily and fast since they appear as an executable file.

 

    b. Spyware: Spyware are spies in the cybersecurity world. These are malware designed to spy on unsuspecting system users. Unlike viruses, spyware is not visible at first and they are mainly in the background recording your computer activities including site visited and password used. The cybercriminal then uses the data collected to access your account and defraud you.

 

    c. Trojans: Trojans are sometimes used to create a highway for other malware. They often appear as legit software but when installed they create a backdoor in your system to allow other malware steal data. Unsuspecting system users are tricked to installing or uploading the software where it damages the computer.

 

    d. Ransomware: These are programs that act as real-life kidnappers who seek a ransom. The act by locking or blocking access to important files in the system until a ransom is paid.

 

    e. Botnets: These are groups or networks of different malware-infected systems that are used by criminals to perform cybercrime without owner or administrator permission.

 

    f. Adware: This is malware that is as a result of adverts. At first, they may not seem as malicious but their aggressive nature and constant pop-ups undermine system security.

 

    2. SQL (Structured Query Language) Injection

These are cyber-attack intended to take control of the database and steal data. Cybercriminal takes advantage of a poorly designed application to inject malicious code on the SQL. These codes allow attackers to spoof identity and tamper with original data. SQL injection mainly happens to data-driven institutions. 

 

    3. Phishing

Mainly done through email or instant messages. Phishing in its simplest term is a fraudulent attempt by cybercriminal to obtain sensitive information by disguising as trustworthy electronic communication. The information targeted is mainly financial and other times user login data. 

 

    4. Denial of service attack (DoS)

This is a form of attack where cybercriminals make the system or network unavailable to its users. This is done by overloading the target machine with requests that are aimed at preventing the computer from carrying out legitimate requests and eventually crashing.

 

    5. Man in the middle attack (MITM)

Man in the middle attack occurs when criminals intercept communications to steal data. A common channel of these attacks is an unencrypted Wi-Fi network where attackers alter or relay communications between two individuals. 

Today’s Trends in cybersecurity 

Cybersecurity is continually becoming a challenging issue not just for the organization but for the general public. The future is going to see more cyberattacks not just isolated cases that we have come to be more aware of but also on governments. While many institutions are becoming more aware of the importance of cybersecurity, they are struggling to implement and define the right security measures. Some of the cybersecurity topics issues on the trend include

 

    1. Growth in AI and Machine learning 

Advancement in artificial intelligence is bringing new ways of doing business and opening up avenue for cyber-attacks. Through trial and error and human guidance machines are taught to recognize threats associated with certain malware. However, the rate of growth in artificial intelligence has been equally matched and perhaps outpaced by the development of new cybercrimes associated with it. As the AI field develops we are seeing cases of weaponized AI pop up as cybercriminals try to develop more sophisticated attack methods and malware. This has rendered current cybersecurity measures less effective leading to a demand for equally advanced and sophisticated cybersecurity.

 

    2. Cloud computing services attacks

According to Forbes, more than 80% of institution workload will be carried out on the cloud in 2020.  Though cloud computing service provider makes efforts to secure cloud data the main responsibility of cybersecurity lies with the user. Attacks on cloud services have been made worse by poor understanding of how cloud computing works and how best to protect organization data by users. One common method that these attacks are occurring is through user misconfigured settings.

 

    3. Enactment of more strict privacy law

One of the most common topics today in the cybersecurity world is the level of data privacy and the situation has been made worse by a lack of transparency by organizations. Recently the European Union enacted the General Data Privacy Regulation to control and restrict how data is processed and stored. The internet has also been filled with calls for more stringent measures to curb privacy infringement.

 

    4. Vehicle and related infrastructure hacking on the rise

Growth in digitation of the transport sector has brought new cybersecurity threats. Just when the idea of a self-driving car is gaining momentum the fear of current modern vehicle being hacked is gaining momentum too. A typical modern car is fitted with sensors, GPS devices and inbuilt communication platforms. All these digital devices make modern cars a profitable potential target for hackers.

Due to a lack of international cybersecurity standards in most manufacturers, hackers are taking advantage of the situation to profiteer. The situation has been made worse by an increasing range of data being collected by the automobile. In most cases, hackers hack vehicles to access personal information, email address and cloud services associated with the owner. This information is then sold on the black market or used to access the financial data of the user. The idea of hackers taking control of the digital services of the vehicle may seem too much but it’s a reality that is synching and one that will be more common going forward.

 

    5. Shortage of cybersecurity skills

It is estimated that more than 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs are yet to be fulfilled in the world today and the number is predicted to grow. The situation is beginning to affect the public at large due to the increase in fraud, identity cloning and political disinformation. This calls for more training of existing staff to detect new threats and mitigate them. As we go through 2020 we will start to see more and more organizations investing in cybersecurity training.

 

    6. Increase in number of mobile apps

The number of mobile phones app is on the increase but what is making the situation worse is that most of these apps are being installed with little thought on the security threat they pose. In 2019 the US government expressed concern over the privacy of TikTok – the short video app made in China allows it, user, to create video and share them- according to the report released by the security agency the app was considered to have many vulnerabilities that compromised national security. This is just one of many examples of apps that are secretly collecting personal data of users.

 

    7. Increase in ransomware

In 2019 the number of reported ransomware attacks on mobile banking increased by 50%, this is according to Mobliciti. This is expected to continue in 2020 and in the future. Unlike in the past where ransomware attacks were mainly targeted on individuals, today's ransomware attacks are now shifting more toward organizations. The fight against ransomware attacks has been complicated by growth in cryptocurrency as many of the attackers demand cryptocurrency payment making it hard for the investigator to trace them by following the money trail.

 

On 12th May this year, the internet was rife with a story of a US law firm that represents A-list celebrity being hacked. The hackers were demanding a ransom to return access to file to the firm. This is just an example that goes to illustrate how ransomware attacks are becoming common and targeted more on the organization rather than individuals.

 

Conclusion: Basics of fighting against cyberattack

 

While else it's hard to completely fight against cyberattack there are few measures we can take to prevent and make it hard for cyber attackers to exploit us.

    1. Cybersecurity education: As the threat of cyberattack increases and new threats immerges the best we can do is continue learning and inventing new ways to improve cybersecurity. It's also important for an organization to train its staff on the best cybersecurity practices to avoid attacks.

    2. Privacy awareness: Going forward we have to avoid posting our lives on social media. Posting our where about on social media can seem harmless but it’s dangerous as it gives attackers the ammunition they need to invade our privacy.

    3. Learn more about an app before installing: Most people tend to install apps without much thought on what data the app is collecting on our phones. Others know the information being collected by the app but they just ignore the repercussion.

    4. Avoid opening just any links and email: Today most of the cyberattacks are perpetrated through phishing links and emails. It's important to create a habit of not opening unknown emails or links.

    5. Install antivirus: This is very important as they help protect devices from a range of attacks.  

 
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