Common types of Cyber Security
This refers to securing a computer network against attack. It helps businesses and organisations protect against intruders, whether that be targeted hackers, malware or viruses.
This category of cyber security tries to protect you from potential threats before they even reach you. Whether it’s an app you use on your mobile device or software downloaded onto your computer, it is best practice for the developers to look at how the programme will protect your personal information. These elements of application security should be considered during the design stage, long before it’s released and available for public use. Not doing this could leave your devices vulnerable to attack. This is why it is important to only download applications and software from reputable websites with the appropriate safety certifications.
This term is used to describe any systems or processes that protect against threats to the privacy and/or integrity of sensitive information. These measures are not only needed while the data is in storage, but also whenever it is in transit in order to keep it secure at all times and avoid any unauthorised access. For example, an online clothes shop might need to pass on a list of customer names and addresses to a third-party warehouse who will ship the orders. The clothes store will need to consider how to send this information securely. They might put measures in place such as encrypting the data, protecting it with a password and making sure to transfer it over a secure network connection.
This refers to the decisions and processes put in place for handling and protecting sensitive data. It covers things such as what permissions employees have when accessing their organisation’s computer network and the ways which a business decides to share personal information about customers. For example, your organisation might have policies in place banning the use of personal USB sticks on work computers to prevent anyone from saving sensitive corporate information on external devices.
A comprehensive cyber security strategy should always include plans for disaster recovery and business continuity. Disaster recovery sets out how the organisation will get back on track and start running like usual again following a malicious attack. Business continuity, on the other hand, looks at how the organisation will operate without certain resources in place. Together, these two elements outline how the organisation will react in the event of a cyber threat, a successful cyber attack, or any other incident which causes the loss of data or operations.
Cyber security is about protecting anything which is in the ‘cyber’ (online) world from threats. This includes the data and information itself, as well as the related devices and technologies on which it is stored. Information security on the other hand refers to the systems, processes and technology used to protect all kinds of information from unauthorised access, whether it is online (digital) or offline (analog).
A cyber-attack refers to any attempt to damage the integrity of an online system, network or device. It does not necessarily mean that the attacker was successful in gaining unauthorised access or stealing personal information – it just means they tried. In contrast, a security breach refers to a successful cyber attack where the criminal was able to achieve their aim of accessing IT systems to obtain sensitive data.
What are the most common types of cyber security threat?
Unfortunately, there are lots of different types of cyber threats and online scams, with criminals constantly coming up with new and inventive ways to target people. They are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the tactics they use, so it’s more important than ever to be alert to potential threats when using the internet. While individual scams will work in slightly different ways, the intention is usually similar. To cause damage to your computer/device, to steal personal information which they can sell on, or to trick you into disclosing sensitive information such as your credit card number, or the PIN for your bank card. Let’s go through at some of the most common examples so that you know what to look out for.
Malware is short for ‘malicious software’ and is one of the biggest cyber threats. It’s the name we give to any type of software that is specifically designed to harm computers and/or mobile devices. Common examples of malware include programmes that steal your personal information and computer viruses that monitor network activity to gather sensitive information about a business. There are a number of different types of malware including: spyware, viruses, ransomware, worms, adware and Trojan horses. But all of them have one thing in common – they have potential to cause real problems for you, who would become their victim if they had their way.
Phishing is one of the most common types of online scam that you might come across. A phishing attack is when a cybercriminal sends a fraudulent email but makes it look like a legitimate email from a reputable company. They hope that the recipient will think the email is genuine and so open it and follow the instructions inside. For example, the fraudster sending the phishing email might ask the recipient to share sensitive information, such as their credit card number or login details.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software which practically shuts down your computer until you pay a ransom to regain control. Frequently used by criminals, a cyber attack of this kind might see the scammer block access to your files and threaten to delete them unless you transfer money. Unfortunately, in some cases even paying the ransom does not guarantee your computer files will be recovered or that your system will be restored.
Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping, this type of scam is becoming more frequent. A company will pretend they are going to sell you a product(s), but in fact they have no intention of ever sending it to you. You will place your order and be charged for it as normal, but they will never supply you with the goods as promised. In some instances, the company will then use the personal information you gave them (e.g. name, address and bank card details) to steal further money from your account. Unfortunately, shopping scams of these types can be difficult to recognise, and so hard to prevent.
Some scammers are targeting people who are in debt. For an upfront fee, they promise to work with creditors to help lower interest rates on outstanding balances. This is an attractive prospect for those looking to alleviate some of the stress that debt brings. Unfortunately, they are empty promises and, once the scammers have received the upfront fee, they disappear, never to be seen again.
It’s a simple fact that downloading something to your computer always carries more risk than simply viewing a web page. But whether it’s a software programme for work, or a game for the kids, you can’t always avoid it. Sometimes you need to download something. Unfortunately, scammers know this and try to use it to their advantage. One common scam is to invite you to download software which has been designed to collect your personal information, or in some cases, lock you out of your computer while the malicious software does its damage. That is why it pays to be 100% sure that an email is genuine before you open any attachments and why you should only ever download from secure websites that you trust.
These types of online scam can easily catch people off-guard. You’ll receive a message (usually an email or a text) which appears to be from a legitimate business or organisation. In it, it says there’s a problem with your account and asks you to provide additional information to fix the issue. This is all a con. There was never an issue with your account, it is simply a ruse to collect sensitive data, such as your payment details or PIN number so that these can be used or sold on for criminal gain. Remember that banks will never request your PIN number in an email or over the phone. If in doubt, always contact your bank to verify.
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, have enjoyed a huge surge in popularity over recent years. Despite the increased attention around these new digital currencies, most people are still not completely familiar with how they work. As a result, online scammers have swooped in to try to take advantage of the situation. These types of scam see potential victims invited to invest in ‘Initial Coin Offerings’ with the promise of huge returns, however the coins themselves are worthless, or in some cases, the company itself may be fictitious. It may be best to avoid any such offers unless you carry out your own research and decide to ask for involvement yourself.
Understanding cyber crime and threats
New types of online scam are always being developed. Yet whether it is a phishing scheme (the most common of them all) or a romance or investment scam, the criminals behind it always have the same intent. They are trying to prey upon the vulnerabilities of the internet user and exploit them for financial gain – all using their broadband connection. If you want to protect yourself from cybercriminals, you need to find ways to protect both your emails and your mobile device, the two most common places where ordinary people can easily become victims.
What is the scale of the cyber threat?
In 2018, people around the globe lost over £500 million from online scams. As internet usage continues to grow, and with new technologies emerging, this trend towards cyber crime has only increased. The number of reports increases each year, as does the sophistication of the scammers.
Who are the most common targets of cyber crime?
Statistics shows that some industries are more likely to be targeted than others. These include retailers, public organisations and the medical services sector. Cybercriminals target victims in these fields, looking to attack their networks in order to gain financial information and sensitive data about customers, such as their email addresses and passwords. In some cases, they even seek to access information which could threaten national security.
How have governments responded to cyber threats?
Cyber crime now poses such a large threat that numerous governments around the world have issued guidance on how organisations can put effective cyber security solutions into place. In the USA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a cyber-security framework. Similarly, in this country, the government’s National Cyber Security Centre has published ’10 steps to cyber security’ to help protect the UK businesses.
Is cyber crime getting better or worse?
The threat of cyber crime is growing at a rapid rate, not just here in the UK but around the world. Predictions point to an increase in the number of data breaches and a rising cyber threat over the coming years. However, it’s not all bad news. This higher threat is expected to prompt businesses and organisations to increase their investment in effective cyber-security practices.
Tips to protect yourself against online scams
With malicious criminals becoming increasingly sophisticated, it’s easy to fall victim to one of any number of the latest cyber-security threats. You might unknowingly open an email attachment at work which contains malware that infects the organisation’s entire business network. Or one of the kids might use an unsecure Wi-Fi network when they’re out in a public place, opening them up to identity theft. We know that having a secure system is, but what can you do to keep you and your family safe while using the internet? Let’s look at a few general guidelines for protecting yourself against online scams.
One of the best ways to defend yourself against cyber threats is end-user education. In other words, read up and learn about common online scams. By knowing what to be on the lookout for, you are less likely to become a victim.
If you come across an unidentified USB drive, do not plug it in to your computer. It may well contain a virus or some other kind of malware.
If something pops into your inbox which doesn’t seem quite right, delete the email straight away. Look out for spelling mistakes, or amateur looking logos which can often be tell-tale signs of a scam or phishing email.
Email attachments are a common way that online scammers try to access sensitive data. Be sure to only open email attachments from sources that you trust.
When it comes to cyber security, it is better to be safe than sorry. So if you receive a text message or email that you think is suspicious, don’t be afraid to check with the company themselves to confirm whether or not it is legitimate.
For added peace of mind, you may want to consider buying a technology solution that filters malicious emails and protects you against computer viruses while surfing the net.
Tackling cyber security with your internet provider
As a company, we take our commitment to protecting your personal information very seriously. One of the main ways we keep all our data safe is with a comprehensive set of cyber security measures. Here at Virgin Media we use an ever-evolving set of tools, approaches and programs, to protect our most precious data, daily. If you want to know more, just get in touch.
Take our online cyber security quiz to learn more about online crime and how to stay safe.