Cyber security definition
Cyber security is the application of technologies, processes and controls to protect systems, networks, programs, devices and data from cyber attacks.
It aims to reduce the risk of cyber attacks and protect against the unauthorised exploitation of systems, networks and technologies.
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To find out more about the fundamentals of cyber security and how to defend against attacks, read our pocket guide Cyber Security: Essential principles to secure your organisation.
Cyber security vs information security
Cyber security is often confused with information security.
- Cyber security focuses on protecting computer systems from unauthorised access or being otherwise damaged or made inaccessible.
- Information security is a broader category that looks to protect all information assets, whether in hard copy or digital form.
Protect your business against cyber attacks
A robust cyber security strategy is the best defence against attack, but many organisations don’t know where to begin.
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The legal requirement for cyber security
The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and DPA (Data Protection Act) 2018 require organisations to implement appropriate security measures to protect personal data. Otherwise, there's a risk of substantial fines.
Cyber security is a critical business issue for every organisation.
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Why is cyber security important?
The costs of cyber security breaches are rising
Privacy laws such as the GDPR and DPA 2018 can mean significant fines for organisations that suffer cyber security breaches. There are also non-financial costs to be considered, like reputational damage.
Cyber attacks are increasingly sophisticated
Cyber attacks continue to grow in sophistication, with attackers using an ever-expanding variety of tactics. These include social engineering, malware and ransomware).
Cyber security is a critical, board-level issue
New regulations and reporting requirements make cyber security risk oversight a challenge. The board will need to continue to seek assurances from management that its cyber risk strategies will reduce the risk of attacks and limit financial and operational impacts.
Cyber crime is a big business
In 2018, the cyber crime economy was estimated to be worth $1.5 trillion, according to a study commissioned by Bromium. Political, ethical and social incentives can also drive attackers.
Challenges of cyber security
Mitigating the cyber security risks facing your organisation can be challenging. This is especially true if you have moved to remote working and have less control over employees’ behaviour and device security.
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An effective approach must encompass your entire IT infrastructure and be based on regular risk assessments.
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What are the consequences of a cyber attack?
Cyber attacks cost organisations billions of pounds and can cause severe damage. Impacted organisations stand to lose sensitive data, and face fines and reputational damage.
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Managing cyber security
Effective cyber security management must come from the top of the organisation.
A robust cyber security culture, reinforced by regular training, will ensure that every employee recognises that cyber security is their responsibility and defaults to security instinctively.
Good security and effective working practices must go hand in hand.
How to approach cyber security
A risk-based approach to cyber security will ensure your efforts are focused where they are most needed.
Using regular cyber security risk assessments to identify and evaluate your risks – and whether your security controls are appropriate – is the most effective and cost-efficient way of protecting your organisation.
Learn more about cyber risk management
Cyber security checklist
Boost your cyber defences with these must-have security measures:
1. Staff awareness training
Human error is the leading cause of data breaches. It is therefore essential that you equip staff with the knowledge to deal with the threats they face.
Staff awareness training will show employees how security threats affect them and help them apply best-practice advice to real-world situations.
2. Application security
Web application vulnerabilities are a common point of intrusion for cyber criminals.
As applications play an increasingly critical role in business, it is vital to focus on web application security.
3. Network security
Network security is the process of protecting the usability and integrity of your network and data. This is achieved by conducting a network penetration test, which assesses your network for vulnerabilities and security issues.
4. Leadership commitment
Leadership commitment is key to cyber resilience. Without it, it is tough to establish or enforce effective processes. Top management must be prepared to invest in appropriate cyber security resources, such as awareness training.
5. Password management
Almost half of the UK population uses ‘password’, ‘123456’ or ‘qwerty’ as their password. You should implement a password management policy that provides guidance to ensure staff create strong passwords and keep them secure.
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