How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the process of protecting systems, devices, networks, and data from any type of unauthorized access or attack. Cyber attacks typically try to gain access to sensitive information and alter, disrupt, destroy or control that information for malicious or criminal intent.
These attacks are of increasing concern to businesses and individuals. As more information and data continues to move online, everything from emails and credit cards to navigation systems and medical records are susceptible to digital attacks.
Cyber attacks can vary in size and scope, but some of the common types of threats include:
This usually takes the form of emails that appear as though they are from a reputable and legitimate source. These fraudulent communications aim to steal sensitive details, such as login information or credit card numbers.
Malware is malicious software that has been designed to gain unauthorized access or disrupt a computer. It typically breaches a network if a user clicks on a dangerous link, email attachment, or download. Malware can take many forms, including viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware, and ransomware.
This type of attack involves a cybercriminal intercepting a communication between two parties. The criminal eavesdrops on the conversation and impersonates one or both parties in order to control information or steal data.
In this attack, cybercriminals overwhelm and exhaust network and servers with traffic in an attempt to shut down or disrupt the availability of services. The resources are then unavailable or inaccessible for legitimate users.
An SQL, or Structured Language Query, injection happens when malicious SQL code is inserted into an application’s database through an SQL statement, allowing attackers to view sensitive data.
The purpose of cybersecurity is to defend against these common threats through building systems and developing tactics to protect data. Cybersecurity is also sometimes referred to as information technology security.
What Are the Types of Cybersecurity?
There are five main types of cybersecurity: critical infrastructure security, mobile and application security, network security, cloud security, and internet-of-things security.
Critical Infrastructure Security
Critical infrastructure includes systems and networks that society relies on, such as electricity grids, traffic lights, water purification, and hospitals. Though these are physical infrastructures, they rely on cyber systems. Governments work with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to secure them from potential cyber attacks.
This type of cybersecurity is designed to protect internal networks from unauthorized access. Different tools, policies, and procedures can be used to ensure networks will not be exploited. Common tools include firewalls, antivirus and antimalware programs, and virtual private networks.
Mobile and Application Security
As users store more personal data onto their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices, mobile security is an increasingly important area. If a device is lost or stolen, there are tools that can lock the use of a mobile device or require multi-factor passwords before they can be accessed.
Within mobile security is application security, which is the process of finding, preventing, and fixing any vulnerabilities in apps. Cybersecurity professions work to make apps more secure so there is no risk of unauthorized access to data and devices. Application security starts during the design and development stages, and continues after apps are deployed.
This type of cybersecurity protects data and applications that are stored on cloud-based systems. The major threats to cloud security include data being exposed, unauthorized users accessing data, and malicious attacks to infect or destroy cloud infrastructure. Common defenses in cloud security include encryption, firewalls, and virtual private networks.
The internet-of-things (IoT) refers to a variety of systems connected to the internet, such as appliances, televisions, Wi-Fi routers, and security cameras. Many IoT devices have weak encryption and unpatched vulnerabilities, which mean they can be easily exploited. The increasing number of IoT devices makes this a high priority area in cybersecurity.
Why Is Cybersecurity Important?
Cybersecurity is important because so much of our sensitive information—including personal and health data, intellectual property, and governmental information systems—are vulnerable to attack, and they need to be properly protected.
Cyber attacks can happen at any level, big or small. There have been incidences of governmental organizations being breached and citizens losing access to essential services. On an individual level, cyber crime victims have faced identity theft, blackmail, and extortion.
Cyber attacks are one of the world’s fastest growing crimes. It is predicted that cyber crime damages could cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Cyber criminals are becoming more innovative in their tactics, making cybersecurity critically important.
What Is Cyberwar?
Cyberwar, or cyberwarfare, is the act of a nation-state attacking another nation’s computer systems in order to wreak damage or destruction. These digital attacks are usually made against government and military networks in order to cause real world, physical impact.
Cyberwar can take many forms. Some examples include shutting down a power grid, wiping out data centers, scrambling bank records, or interfering in the operation of nuclear plants.
What Are the Benefits of Cybersecurity?
There are many benefits and advantages when it comes to cybersecurity. Some of the key benefits are that it protects data against unauthorized access, improves business performance, and helps build confidence in customers.
Protect Against Cyber Attacks
Cybersecurity measures and tools assess vulnerabilities and prevent threats from infiltrating systems. This keeps sensitive data secure and ensures that only authorized users can access information.
Save Time and Money
Viruses can slow down computers and cause interruptions in business operations. If a significant breach occurs, it can be costly to bring in outside services and experts to deal with the consequences. In the long run, cybersecurity measures end up saving businesses time and money.
Improve Customer Confidence
A robust cybersecurity strategy will inspire confidence in customers. Many businesses gather information from their customers, so customers need to feel that their data is in safe hands.
Recover From a Data Breach
In the event there is a cyber attack, having the right policies and recovery plans in place will allow the company to quickly recover and resume business operations.
What Can You Do With Cybersecurity?
There are many different roles you can have in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity professionals are needed in all industries—everything from retailers to banks to governments need specialists to protect valuable information.
Some cybersecurity positions include:
- Cybersecurity Analyst
- Cybersecurity Specialist
- Security Systems Administrator
- Chief Information Security Officer
- Forensic Computer Analyst
- Penetration Tester
- Security Architect
- Security Manager
- Information Security Consultant
- Security Engineer
- Security Consultant
Why Is Python Popular in Cybersecurity?
Python is a popular and preferred programming language in cybersecurity because it is highly functional for many cybersecurity tasks, such as malware analysis and penetration testing.
There are many reasons why cybersecurity professionals often choose Python over other languages. Some of these reasons include:
Easy to learn: Python is more user-friendly compared to other programming languages. It requires minimal code and is straightforward to learn, which is especially ideal for cybersecurity professionals who may have less programming experience.
Easy to debug: Python has less code, and therefore increased readability. This makes it easier for cybersecurity professionals to find errors and debug code, allowing them to solve problems quickly.
Open source: Python is a free open-source language, making it a top choice for many developers. There is a lot of information available about Python, and it is supported and advanced by a strong community of developers.
Extensive library: Python has an extensive standard library, which means that cybersecurity professionals can access tools that are readily available.
Multifunctional: Nearly all cybersecurity tasks can be completed using Python code, including malware analysis, scanning, accessing servers, penetration testing, scripting and automating.
Popular with hackers: Python is widely used by hackers, making it an essential language for cybersecurity professionals to understand.
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