What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the collection of security tools, technologies, processes, and practices used to protect networks, users, devices, software, applications, and data from malicious digital actions known as cyberattacks. There are many different types of cybersecurity threats that can lead to unauthorized access, data loss, exploitation, extortion, and disruption of business operations.
A successful cybersecurity framework consists of several layers of protection across the company environment and network. It involves integrating people, processes, and technology to create an effective defense system against cybersecurity threats.
Explore additional cybersecurity topics:
- What is the current state of cybersecurity?
- What are the most common types of cybersecurity threats?
- What are the different types of cybersecurity measures?
- What are the challenges of cybersecurity?
- How can organizations protect against cybersecurity threats?
- What are the essentials of a successful cybersecurity strategy?
- Citrix solutions for cybersecurity
Implementing an effective cybersecurity strategy is more challenging today than ever before. The hybrid workforce is expanding, and the number of connected devices keeps increasing. This creates more opportunities for threat actors, while at the same time attackers are becoming more sophisticated and innovative.
Global threats are more frequent and continue to evolve in complexity, with data breaches rising every year. Simply put, it is increasingly difficult and complex to protect against cyberattacks and more costly to recover afterward. In today’s digital world, every company benefits from having a strong security posture.
Cybercriminals have different intentions and goals and may belong to criminal or terrorist organizations. The different types of cybersecurity threats can be divided into three broad categories:
- Cybercrime: These can be single actors or groups that attack operating systems for financial reasons or to disrupt operations in an organization.
- Cyberattack: Organizations intending to gather information for political gain or disruption are usually behind these types of attacks.
- Cyberterrorism: These types of threats are usually politically motivated, intending to undermine information systems to cause panic or fear.
The most common threat methods and techniques include:
- Malware: “Malware” stands for malicious software. It is an umbrella term for several types of threats that an attacker may carry out. The techniques used as malware include self-replicating programs like viruses, as well as hidden spyware programs that record user’s activities.
- Ransomware: This is a specific type of malware that involves encrypting or locking down a user’s file or data, and then requesting payment (usually in cryptocurrency) to decrypt the data. Ransomware attacks are often executed using a Trojan to enter a company's IT infrastructure through email attachments, visits to infected websites, and phishing email links.
- Phishing: This type of attack involves criminals targeting victims with seemingly legitimate emails that ask for sensitive information. The user is lured to share credentials or login information that gives the attacker access to the network.
- Distributed denial of service: DDOS is when attackers overload a network and servers with traffic, thus preventing the system from completing legitimate requests. This results in a system that cannot carry critical company functions.
- Social engineering: This tactic is similar to phishing in that the attacker tricks the victim into sharing sensitive information, such as credit card details, often by posing as a friend on social media or other trusted source. Social engineering often targets high-ranking personnel and C-level executives.
- Man in the middle: With this type of cyberattack, criminals intercept communication between two users to steal data. Gaps in network security can result in a man-in-the-middle attack.
- SQL injection: This involves inserting malicious code in a database via an SQL statement. Criminals exploit data-driven applications to gain access to the sensitive information stored in the database.
- Zero-day exploit: This is a general term that refers to a type of attack not previously known to security agencies. It can be a new type of attack or one that doesn’t meet the attack patterns known to the security team.
- DNS tunneling: In this type of attack, attackers encode data in DNS queries and responses, creating a tunnel that enables them to pass malware over security barriers like firewalls.
Network security is the group of practices and tools used to protect a computer network from unauthorized users or intrusion by targeted or opportunistic attackers.
This area of cybersecurity focuses on keeping application software safe from attacks. When attackers compromise an application, they can gain access to sensitive data. Application security is not limited to software deployed on-premises but also to protect data shared in collaborative environments.
This aspect of cybersecurity focuses on protecting the integrity and privacy of data located inside networks and applications, both in storage and in transit.
Endpoint and device security
These days, remotely connected devices are part of any business, but they create gaps for attackers. Endpoint security uses tools and practices to protect the organization’s network from harmful unauthorized access on end user devices.
This aspect of cybersecurity secures the access and permissions for every user and entity in an organization.
Database and IT infrastructure security
Databases store critical data and processes. Database security practices and tools protect against data breaches, ransomware, and other harmful attacks.
Most companies today deliver data, applications, and processes from cloud environments that need to be protected from breaches. Although cloud providers take care of the cloud infrastructure security, shared ownership requires companies in the cloud to implement their own cloud security measures.
This involves the processes and technologies used to protect data assets through the company’s operations. Assigning permissions to access apps and data and defining security protocols are aspects of operational security.
Once an organization has been the victim of a cyber-security incident, disaster recovery security intervenes to restore operations and information to their previous operating capacity. This area of cybersecurity designs and implements policies and protocols to ensure business continuity in the face of an attack.
This branch of cybersecurity is focused on a proactive approach to detection and response against cyber threats. Threat hunting involves security professionals and tools that monitor, detect, identify, and respond to potential or ongoing threats. The goal of threat hunting is to be a step ahead of attackers, stopping threats before they become a problem and preventing them from happening again.
Because most companies now have distributed environments, with a combination of private and public clouds and on-premises solutions, keeping digital workspaces secure is one of the main challenges companies face. And the number of connected devices used for work only compounds this challenge. Other challenges of cybersecurity include:
Preventing business and data loss
Cyberattacks not only result in loss of data and hefty fines but also increase the risk of business loss. Many organizations, especially small and medium-sized businesses, go out of business within months of suffering a cyberattack. In addition to financial losses, cyberattacks increase the risk of business disruption and loss of reputation. This dilemma is driving organizations to look for ways to protect themselves, which has led to an industry increase in proactive tactics and solutions.
Adaptability of attackers
The cybersecurity landscape is like a continuous loop, with attackers improving their tactics and security developers, teams, and organizations creating new protections and solutions. The adaptability of attackers’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) is primary concern for cybersecurity professionals. Recent rises in ransomware and phishing attacks serve as proof of this adaptability, both of which have driven several record years for data breaches.
Another challenge for cybersecurity teams is determining how to reduce vulnerabilities at the application level. Many development companies release software and applications into the cloud with growing frequency, so maintaining a security program specifically for apps is critical.
Cybersecurity and the hybrid workforce
Cyberattacks on hybrid workers are on the rise due to several factors, such as the use of personal devices that may not include advanced security controls. Hybrid workers are becoming an ideal target for cyber attackers since they often provide easy insider access to company resources. Vulnerabilities are also found in public Wi-Fi connections, cloud services, and VPNs.
As many organizations switch to hybrid and remote work models, company cybersecurity policies need to be updated with zero trust security practices, including the adoption of:
- Secure access to apps and data
- Remote connection processes
- BYOD policies to secure remote device access
- User behavior analytics
- Offsite data handling
It’s also important for hybrid workers to be a part of the security process, with periodic training to help prevent cyberattacks. Another best practice includes assigning cybersecurity responsibilities and roles in the event of a compromise
For a cybersecurity approach to be successful, it must encompass all aspects of an organization including devices, networks, software, data, and people. A security-first approach means security efforts should be an integral focus for the people, processes, and technology of the company.
People: From C-level executives and the board of directors to the newest hire, users must comply with basic security principles and be aware of social engineering and phishing scams.
Processes: The company’s processes must follow joint efforts across different teams and include a framework to quickly deal with incoming threats. An incident response strategy and security framework can help guide teams on detecting, identifying, and responding to threats as well as recovering from successful attacks.
Technology: A comprehensive cybersecurity stack can give your organization a network of protection across the extended environment. Almost every company nowadays needs to extend the protection beyond their perimeter to three basic entities: endpoint devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, and IoT devices), the organization’s network, and the organization’s cloud infrastructure.
According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, (NCSA), it's important for cybersecurity professionals to take a top-down approach when implementing cybersecurity measures across all business processes. Examples include:
- Investing in user education to increase security awareness among employees, with a focus on security principles such as creating strong passwords and ensuring secure browsing
- Installing network security measures like antivirus and firewalls
- Conducting real-time assessments of how users are accessing the network, apps and data
Other advisory groups, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), recommend ongoing risk assessments.
Both proactive and reactive measures are essential to keeping networks and environments secure. Two of these practices are threat hunting and incident response. Threat hunting is the combination of practices and tools that enable security professionals to actively search for threats and malicious actors that may have slipped the first layer of security. Incident response is the methodology and practices an organization uses to respond to an attack. It follows a set of policies and procedures detailed in the incident response plan.
7 keys to delivering secure remote access
Learn about the key cybersecurity elements to help ensure your remote or hybrid workforce is securely accessing apps and data.
Firewall and antivirus
Firewalls and antiviruses have been used as the first line of defense for decades. A firewall is a network security device or software that filters incoming and outgoing traffic, blocking or allowing it according to a set of security rules. Antiviruses scan, detect, and delete viruses from computer systems, providing real-time protection against virus threats.
Public key infrastructure
PKI governs encryption keys by issuing and managing digital certificates. This allows administrators to verify users, devices, and applications. Common examples of PKI security are SSL certificates on websites, authentication for internet of things (IoT) devices, and digital signatures.
This is the practice of analyzing a security ecosystem to detect malicious activity. Organizations use threat detection tools like SIEM (security information and event management) that allow analysts to monitor network traffic in real time. Companies also use threat intelligence systems or hire threat intelligence vendors.
Ongoing penetration testing is one of the keys for a secure environment. Penetration testing teams conduct a series of simulated attacks against the organization’s systems and network using different attack methods. Penetration testers use specific pen testing tools to identify and test vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity is now a critical component of every organization. As cyberattacks grow in number and complexity, it’s essential for organizations, especially those managing sensitive or personal information, to have an active plan for data protection. Organizations with hybrid workforces and distributed environments require security practices that can secure the entire workforce for any app, any location, and any device. Citrix offers multiple security solutions grounded in the zero trust approach.