Today’s most critical systems are tightly interwoven within a digital framework. This approach has dramatically improved efficiency, agility, and scalability ... but it also leaves key players vulnerable.
“People don't realize how routine operations are until they are not!” said Professor James Sheusi, who teaches at Johnson & Wales University Providence and online. “For example, if there is a storm and your power goes out, you might light some candles or get out the flashlights, but I guarantee you the minute you go into another room, you still hit the light switch. You know that you do.” He continued, “When there is an IT disruption, everyone is a mess—unless there is an excellent business continuity plan, and we teach that in the MBA – Information Security/Assurance program.”
What Is Cyber Security?
At its most basic level, cyber security involves the protection of digital networks and systems. Cyber security efforts aim to defend computers and servers against a whole host of threats. Without advanced security protocol, businesses may be vulnerable to lost data and considerable financial harm.
According to Professor Sheusi, threats to cyber security are becoming more prevalent because “the attack doesn’t have to be done onsite like a bank robbery. It is more anonymous and increasingly more profitable, and, because of its remote nature, it can be easily done without retribution.”
Why Is Computer Security Important?
Security threats can take many forms, ranging from the seemingly simple to hopelessly complex. While they range in sophistication, all threats hold the potential to impart considerable damage on a variety of businesses and organizations.
“There is long-term damage to the reputation of the business,” said Professor Sheusi, speaking on the complex implications of cyber attacks. “Set aside customer data leaking out, which is obvious enough, but there are things like supply-chain disruptions, cash-flow disruptions, and so on. Then, there is the cost of remediation, embarrassment in the industry, and those kinds of problems no one thinks of.”
Here are five computer security risks that professionals watch out for:
1. Phishing Schemes
In an age of sophisticated cyberattacks, many people discount phishing schemes as a true threat. In reality, however, phishing remains one of the most prevalent and dangerous means of defrauding the digital community. Phishing involves fraudulent emails or other forms of communication sent in hopes of convincing recipients to reveal personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers. The 2018 State of the Phish report revealed that 76 percent of organizations suffered some form of a phishing attack in 2017.
A notable subset of phishing: SMiShing (short for SMS phishing), in which users are tricked into downloading viruses on their mobile devices. SMiShing presents a considerable threat, as people tend to be less wary in answering text messages than they are with email communication.
An especially dangerous form of malicious software, ransomware quickly takes over computer systems and encrypts essential documents, only returning access once a ransom has been paid. This scheme is far from new, but attacks have become shockingly prevalent in recent years. Experts at Cybersecurity Ventures predict that ransomware will cost the United States economy $11.5 billion in 2019.
3. Distributed Denial of Service
Often confused with ransomware, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks involve a sudden flood of internet traffic intended to overwhelm servers. The goal? To render websites completely inoperable. In some cases, attackers stage mild DDoS attacks but threaten more severe efforts in hopes of securing a cryptocurrency ransom. According to a DDoS trends report from Neustar, the average DDoS attack costs targeted businesses $2.5 million.
4. Man-In-The-Middle Attacks
Eavesdropping now takes an alarming form with man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, in which attackers interfere with parties who believe they are interacting with one another. MITM attackers don't merely intercept messages—they alter them in hopes of gaining access to sensitive information or otherwise manipulating victims. MITM attacks can occur over email, via WiFi eavesdropping, or on mobile apps.
Cryptocurrency is supposed to be, by nature, more secure than traditional forms of currency. Unfortunately, the crypto industry appears to have spawned its own legion of threats. Cryptojacking, for example, occurs when devices are unknowingly used to mine cryptocurrency. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Think again. Recent cryptojacking efforts have targeted broader infrastructure. Security firm Radiflow, for example, discovered mining malware within the operational technology network for a European utility company. RedTeam Security's Marco Cardacci tells Wired, "Industrial control systems require high processor availability and any impact to that can cause serious safety concerns."
Contact Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education to learn more about the technology degree programs we offer that can help you compete in the world of digital security. Please complete the “Request Info” form on this page, call 855-JWU-1881, or email: [email protected]