Cybersecurity has increasingly become a critical issue since the conversion of ARPAnet to the civilian internet in the mid-1990s. Before this conversion, cases of cyberattacks were few and not as widespread as they are now.
Cyberattacks are malicious attempts by cybercriminals to gain access to information systems. They seek to gain access for various reasons, such as:
- Data Manipulation
- Data Deletion
- Data Theft
- Denial of Service through system overload.
With such dire consequences of attacks, it is therefore important that cybersecurity should be a key concern for any information system owner.
Over time, there have been common cybersecurity loopholes that have been identified as critical. A cybersecurity loophole is a software or hardware vulnerability that creates a possible attack point for a system.
Fixing these common loopholes can act as the first cybersecurity step for any individual embarking on securing their system.
In this article, we shall discuss the common loopholes in cybersecurity and list their problem-specific solutions.
- Disregard of Industry Standards
The energy sector was the first to embrace the internet and communication in their systems. Although the internet helped them increase the efficiency of their systems, it also resulted in a massive energy crisis as a result of a cyberattack.
Due to this, the United States government started the National American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). This board developed the NERC CIP standards that every company in the energy industry was to implement and observe.
These standards help to improve the security of their systems and improve their reliability too.
As a result, industry standards for cybersecurity have been developed in a variety of sectors. These standards state important security features for every business in the various sectors.
Adoption of industry standards seals the common loopholes in computer systems for their specific industry.
- Social Engineering
Social engineering entails using knowledge about human psychology to trick information system users into compromising the security of sensitive data. A recent study showed that 98% of cyber attacks relied on the use of social engineering.
Social engineering is an invasive attack type that can have dire consequences or impacts depending on the leaked data.
Social engineering attacks are numerous. A few examples of these attacks are:
- Spear phishing
The impact of social engineering on cybersecurity is significant. Given that social engineering is used in 98 percent of attacks, it is critical to protect your system against it.
Prevention of social engineering attacks is largely dependent on the knowledge that system users have regarding the various attack means. Educating system users about the different types of attacks and how to identify them can offer significant system security.
For attacks such as phishing, workers can be taught how to identify fake links and also how to report attack attempts.
- Transmission Media Tapping
All information systems rely on data transmission to and from the servers and connected nodes for complete system functioning. However, data transmission can offer a security loophole for cybercriminals.
When choosing transmission media for the system, going for cheap products often ends up being catastrophic. Cheap transmission means, such as copper cables, are the easiest to tap into. Ethernet cables are also easily susceptible to network tapping through the use of ethernet bridges.
Fiber optic cables, on the other hand, are more immune to tapping, though more expensive as compared to copper and ethernet cables.
There are two common solutions to this loophole. These solutions are:
- Live Network Monitoring
When using wired networks for data transmission, setting up hardware and software for live monitoring is important.
Live network monitoring offers live tracking information about the aspects of a computer network. Such aspects are bandwidth utilization, devices connected, etc.
Live network monitoring can help the network administrator know when a new device is connected to a network. They can also opt to shut down the network to prevent any data leakages.
- Data Encryption
Data encryption is the conversion of data to an unreadable format or jumbled format. Data is encrypted on the sender’s device and decrypted on the recipient’s device. The receiver decrypts the data using the encryption key.
With data encryption set up, even in the occurrence of a transmission tap, the cybercriminals will get ‘useless’ data. This helps to ensure that leaked data can not be used or even understood by the perpetrator.
Securing the transmission media for a computer system will significantly reinforce the system’s security.
- Disregarding Software Updates
Software developers keep track of their software after deployment to identify any vulnerabilities. Any software vulnerabilities are patched and deployed to the users through software security patches.
A study in 2019 revealed that 60% of system breaches in that year were related to an unpatched software vulnerability.
Software developers can also identify new cyber security threats and implement counteractive solutions into their software. These solutions are deployed to existing users through software updates.
Disregarding updates for either the operating system or security software for your computer systems leaves them open to attacks. All computers should be updated regularly to increase system security.
- Credential Theft
Credential theft is the unlawful acquisition of a person’s or organization’s login data with malicious intent. Theft of credentials is a common occurrence in this era of computer systems.
The main method used to secure computer systems even in the occurrence of credential theft is using multi-factor authentication on computer systems.
Multi-factor authentication entails developing software to require two of the three data types used to validate identity claims during system logins. The three data types are:
- Who the user is, for example, retina scans, fingerprint scans, etc.
- What the user knows, for example, pins, passwords, etc.
- What the user has, for example, an identity card, a magnetic swipe card, etc.
When a login attempt is made by using the user’s username and password, the system prompts for another validation method. This helps to ensure that system access is still restricted even with the theft of credentials.
Regular password changing is also helpful when it comes to credential theft.
Setting up cyber security means patching up the common loopholes discussed above. This serves as a mere cyber security foundation. The loopholes and solutions discussed above do not exhaust the vast security loopholes in computer systems.
To fully secure your computer system, you should do a comprehensive system analysis using the various security assessment software on the market. The software will also recommend specific security methods to be put up.