What is cybersecurity and why is it of life importance?

More and more often, reports of cyber attacks reach us through the main stream media. However, most incidents do not see the light of day for obvious reasons. The importance of cybersecurity is growing and the general public is becoming increasingly aware of the digital risks we face every day. But why is this now of such vital importance?

Long before we talked about cyber and everything related to the digital world, security was one of the primary needs of humans. However, the greatest threats have always lain with ourselves. Since eternity we have been waging wars for power, knowledge and money. The world is evolving and this evolution is accelerating exponentially. These changes brought with them a different way of combat. Traditional paths of attack gave way to high-tech and ingenious ways of achieving these goals.

Pieter Van Gils

Our digital society is highly technology dependent and this will not change. This increases the likelihood of data breaches. Sensitive information is often just a click away and in some cases seemingly easy to exploit. Individuals, companies and governments use systems that are interconnected. Every piece of information is available anywhere in the world at any time. This makes us faster at everything we do and allows us to work and act much more efficiently. But there is a flip side to the coin. People are throwing personal information for grabs on the Internet with all the risks that entails. This creates paths into the crucial information we want to protect.

Criminals abuse this personal information to bring down organizations’ systems or gain access to intellectual property and critical data such as bank accounts or medical records. This damage causes irreparable economic loss.

The goal of cybersecurity is to protect our society from these possible consequences. Cybersecurity is no longer a process that should be carried solely by technical systems. Firewalls and antivirus solutions provide a first line of protection. However, this is not enough.

When companies are targeted, hackers will use techniques such as phishing or social engineering to look for personal information of employees to get inside. Once they have access, they will try to gain more rights within an environment. If they succeed, they will have insight into all the systems that control business processes and will also be able to make changes. This can completely disrupt organizations. It is important to keep the number of access routes to a minimum and to cover them as well as possible without hindering operational functioning. Experience shows us that this is often not an easy trade-off. Cybersecurity professionals can guide organizations in this process.

We see that the awareness of this issue has not yet seeped through everywhere. However, large and important steps are being taken. Governments recognize this importance and therefore offer funding opportunities to increase cybersecurity maturity in companies. In addition, sensitization campaigns are being organized to keep people safe from cybercriminals.

Everyone needs to be aware of the risks associated with our changing digital world. A world where we all need to take responsibility for one another.

  • Pieter Van Gils / Account Manager @ The Security Factory