Cybersecurity: No Longer a “Just in Case” Type of Deal

What is Cybersecurity?

The term cybersecurity has gained major traction in the last decade as technology has continued to advance. As more and more people rely on technology in their daily lives, cybersecurity has become a necessity. Cybersecurity refers to the practice of protecting digital information and systems from hackers and computer viruses.

It contains a series of methods in which individuals and organizations safeguard their applications, communications, and networks. Some of these measures are securing networks, increasing security on applications, protecting information from unauthorized users, ensuring there is a backup of data that can be accessed in case of a crash or cyberattack, and “end-user education,” teaching people within your organization what the potential threats look like and how to protect their data.

Why is Cybersecurity Important?

Nearly 95% of cyberattacks happen due to human error. There was a time when large organizations, such as government agencies and major corporations, were the only places people needed to be concerned about taking cybersecurity measures and knowing how to safeguard data. Now, cybercriminals tend to target individuals and smaller organizations who have not taken the necessary steps to protect their digital information. 

You hear tons of stories these days about your friend’s grandmother who was targeted by cybercriminals, asked to provide her credit card number, and robbed a few weeks later. Cybercriminals have become less like Megamind and more like The Grinch, frequently picking on the “easy” targets like elderly people and children. They will look for ways to access a user’s PII or personally identifiable information, and, oftentimes,  sell this information in virtual underground marketplaces. 

Schools have become targets for cybercriminals because most of them do not have an advanced cybersecurity plan in place. This report, done by Security Scorecard, noted that only 15% of K-12 schools have one in place at all. The research found that a small number of schools had purchased cybersecurity hardware, but had not provided end-user training. There have been multiple cases of cyberattacks on school systems in the news in the last several years, underscoring the growing threat of cyberattacks on educational institutions.

Types of Cybersecurity Threats that You Should Know

There are various ways that viruses and hackers can access sensitive information through cyberattacks.

Some of those include:

  • Malware, where hackers use computer worms, viruses, and spyware that are able to evade antivirus software.
  • Ransomware, when cybercriminals lock down certain files and threaten to make them public until a ransom price is paid.
  • Phishing, when hackers use social engineering to trick users into providing personal information (this type of breach has become extremely common in recent years).
  • Insider threats, instances where former employees, partners, or contractors abuse access permissions.
  • Denial of service attacks, where hackers attempt to crash a server by overloading it with traffic.
  • An advanced persistent threat, where an intruder infiltrates a system and goes undetected for an elongated period of time.
  • Man in middle attacks, when hackers intercept messages between two parties and tamper with them.

Cybersecurity Best Practices

Anyone who is utilizing web or mobile applications for long periods of time should have a cybersecurity plan in their back pocket and make an effort to protect their data from cybercriminals.

Here are some ways to do that, whether you work from home as a freelancer, own a small business, or work at a large company:

  • Perform frequent backups of data. You can do this through applications such as iCloud, or buy hardware built to store maximum data.
  • Use identity and access management by always placing passcodes or identifiers on sensitive files and applications.
  • Buy a data security platform. These will do all the extra heavy lifting for you.
  • Protect personal information by not providing any sensitive information like social security numbers, addresses, and credit card numbers, before verifying who you are communicating with.
  • Use strong passwords that vary greatly. Whenever you create a new account on a social media application or web site make sure your password is one that you’ve never used before and does not contain any personal information.
  • Use caution when connecting to public networks and do not connect to any networks that do not require some sort of identity verification.
  • Educate yourself and your employees, family, friends etc. of potential risks of cyberattacks and how to avoid them.

Teaching Cybersecurity in School

More than 60% of children in the United States have internet access, and they spend about 45 hours per week online. With this data, it is not hard to imagine the risk of encountering a cyberattack. It is estimated that around 25% of young people will experience identity theft or fraud before they reach the age of 18.

As technology becomes increasingly integrated into online schooling, remote work, and social interactions, young people are now more vulnerable than ever to encountering cybercriminals. In a poll done by Security Scorecard, K-12 educators were asked whether or not their students learn about cybersecurity in school. Only about 45% answered yes.

Organizations who are focussed on STEM education like Woz ED have begun turning their attention towards cybersecurity. They understand the importance of training students, who will be the next business owners and leaders, on how to create and implement cybersecurity. If students are taught from a young age that cybersecurity is necessary and manageable, they can avoid frustrating and harmful encounters like fraud, identity theft, and loss of data.

Children can be equipped to protect themselves from cyberthreats automatically, just like they look both ways before crossing the street. Kids can soak up basic cybersecurity skills as rapidly as they pick up new technologies. We owe it to them to make that possible.”



Published: May 18, 2023


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