Cybersecurity: If You Think It Doesn’t Affect You, You’re Sorely Mistaken
Let’s start with the definition of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is the protection of programs, systems, networks, and data from cyber threats targeting the access, modification, and destruction of personal or sensitive data; disruption of business operations and processes; or money extortion of users.
Cyberattacks are usually the result of an attacker wanting to benefit from disrupting, harming or stealing sensitive data from an individual or organization. These cyber crime attacks are malicious and deliberate and take advantage of unsuspecting and unprepared targets.
Now that we have a framework for understanding what cybersecurity and cyberattacks are, we can delve into the reality of who needs to be concerned and how everyone can play a role in implementing a digitally secure environment.
Who Should be Concerned About Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity doesn’t just affect companies and business transactions; it affects anyone with a digital identity and who deals with others in any capacity. So, let’s break it down into one of the smallest elements that applies to young and old alike: data.
As a parent of an almost teenager, a sibling of seven, and a now a middle-aged adult who was the product of an upbringing that included being sheltered from much of the "real world", I think that now is the time to help educate all people on the reality of the world we live in and to bring awareness and visibility into the effects of cybersecurity and what we can all do to help.
Education and Awareness
Given that children cannot take ownership of their own identity and how their identity may be stolen and abused by malicious actors, parents as the guardians and stewards of their children have the responsibility to make sure that they help establish good habits in their children to limit exposure to the threats of this world. Raising children to become aware adults will aid in reducing the spread and ultimate reaching effects of cyberattacks. Successful cybersecurity starts with education and awareness.
Think about how kids are interacting with the internet today. Computers are being used much earlier than ever before in childhood education. With the use of computers that include internet access for completion of assignments in early education, this directly correlates with the increase in cyberattacks in the educational vertical.
Another opportunity for cyberattacks targeted at youth and unsuspecting adults is in the online gaming arena. Witnessing my son playing games online and getting various chat communications where he is often asked prying questions requesting private/personal information or presented with an invitation to "click here" on a link without a second thought, is reason enough to think about the pervasiveness of this attack vector.
Last but not least is the infamous world of social media. Between information exposed to threat actors looking for personal information to crack passwords or use for targeted phishing attempts and impersonators targeting gullible users of social media accounts, there is plenty of opportunity for education on proper educate when signing up to join the global social arena.
Kids and teens are by no means the only target of cyberattacks, but they present the greatest opportunity for reducing the effects of cyberattacks and contributing to the future successes in cybersecurity.
With the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) throughout the world, it’s even more important to educate our children and youth on ways to protect sensitive data and prevent disruption of services associated with all of the gadgets and everyday tools and entertainment sources available today. But adults also need to be educated and reminded of the risks and the recommended safety protocols that should be followed when using internet-enabled devices of any sort.
According to the post Cyber risk in an Internet of Things world by Deloitte, the IoT does not rely on human intervention to function, but it creates a broad landscape for compromise of the information collected, communicated, analyzed, and acted upon by the sensors at the core of IoT. With IoT, not only is more data in general being shared among more participants, but the percentage of that data being sensitive is also greater. The result and cause for increased concern is that the risks associated with the IoT is exponentially greater.
Take a smart TV for example. This is a device found in a lot of homes and one which kids and youth have easy access to. Smart TVs are a potential entry point for hackers to connect to and enter IoT ecosystems, access customer information, or get into the back-end systems of the manufacturer. So, a device that seems so useful and fun is effectively a potential threat hiding in plain sight. Both adults and youth are susceptible to the potential risks associated with IoT devices, which is why awareness of the possibility to cyberattacks is the first step to prevention and protection.
What about digital card readers, Wi-Fi or cellular location services, social media, online browser history, digital medical records, credit applications, digital banking, etc.? The list of potential access points for malicious actors is quite extensive.
So, Now What?
What do we need to do as stewards of data and contributors to our own security and the security of the world we share?
- Education/Training on everyday security awareness and following best practices.
- Follow the principle of Least Privilege, limiting access to sensitive data and systems to only those that need it; this includes children and family members on a home network where financial and personal identity information is accessible.
- Keep systems up to date, including remediation of vulnerabilities with patch management and secure configuration of systems.
- Implement and follow best practices for IoT.
- Just like getting one’s license to drive a car comes with responsibilities, so does establishing an account on the worldwide web and using it with all its opportunities to be an actor and benefactor of the Internet.
It’s also worthwhile spending some time to consider the spectrum of proven endpoint security solutions from Ivanti that can help you mitigate cybersecurity threats.