Cyber Security - An Introduction

Challenges in Cyber Security

Cybersecurity in its early avatar was more about protecting people and organizations from traditional threats such as malware, social engineering attacks, website defacing, hacktivism, etc. In the early days the hackers were also not evolved but with changing technology and emergence of cybercriminal network in the last few years cybercrime has witnessed increased sophistication and intensity in cyber-attacks. The new cyber-attacks are oriented towards financial crime, industrial espionage and have even targeted governments and critical infrastructure from time to time.

The cybersecurity landscape has changed over time and we are living in a complex environment where cybercriminals are more evolved than the cybersecurity professionals. In order to remain relevant in the era of Industry 4.0, traditional business and the government departments are increasing their digital footprints, adapting technology and engagement. In such a scenario, the cybersecurity landscape is also undergoing a paradigm change. Cybersecurity should lie at the heart of any digital transformation initiative and should never be an afterthought but built-in by design.

Industry 4.0 can be the catalyst of changes in different fields like governance, management and administration of smart cities and other applications which are driving the vision of Digital India. But at the same time, it also presents a very lucrative opportunity to the cyber criminals who find many more easy and insecure entry points into networks and devices. Cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure and strategic industrial sectors have become more frequent and sophisticated

In the international water navy encounters enemy warships, large merchant vessels, small merchant ships, fishing boats and guised surveillance ship from all directions. For navy, there are no defined border, everything around the navy warship belongs to enemy. Though there are Sea-Lanes-of-Communication (SLOC), but two ports are on connectionless service and no ship is bound to follow SLOC. The cyberspace is no exception, any asset that is not part of your safe and owned cyberspace is a possible threat to your cyber ecosystem. It is therefore necessary to identify the cyber assets positively in any cyber-conflict. It is important to understand that as a nation, we are facing complex geopolitical issues and state-sponsored attacks targeting our businesses and government on an enormous scale. Cybercrime has become more intense, sophisticated and potentially debilitating for any business and government department.

Industry 4.0 has pushed cybersecurity to the next level of sophistication. Moreover, cyberspace has no physical boundaries, thus ubiquitous nature of cyberspace, pervasive cyber network and internet connectivity makes the data of organizations, key government documents, critical banking and financial transactions, digital assets of armed force, etc. vulnerable to cyber-attacks from anywhere. There are several kinds of cybersecurity challenges like hacking, identity theft, phishing and spear phishing, scamming, computer viruses, ransomware, botnets, denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, mMan-in-the-middle (MitM) attack, drive-by attack, password attack, SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), eavesdropping attack, etc. faced by government, business and individual every day.

It is widely believed that the large organizations are the easy victim of cyberattacks, but it is observed that small companies are more prone to cyber-attacks as they are often ignorant about the possible threats. In the case of the small organizations even if they are aware of the data breach, most of the times they are technically or financially not equipped to fight the battle of cyber security. It is also observed that most of the small companies are serious about data security, but they don’t have the budget for proper cyber security infrastructure.

“Ransomware, data breaches, phishing and security exploits are the top threats to cyber security. The future lies in cloud services in order to ensure better security and performance. Smaller businesses, including state and local municipalities, mom and pop shops, and others, will be targeted due to their lack of security solutions and limited budget. SMBs should look for solutions that are paired towards their small budgets and limited staffing resources to ensure compliance, network security, and peace of mind.”  Dirk Morris, Founder & Chief Product Officer, Untangle

The cybercriminals attack public, private or hybrid cloud technologies to get hold of trade secrets, customer data or other confidential information which can put the company, government agencies, or individual in deep trouble. In the absence of a structured cyber security framework it has become easy for any cybercriminal to walk into our system and walk out with the information. This vulnerability is a function of technology, policies, and education. The cybersecurity vulnerability, in India, is sumtotal of many elements including,

One, In India most of the critical government IT infrastructure is owned by private sector players. There is no national security architecture that unifies the efforts of all these agencies to be able to assess the nature of any threat and tackle them effectively. Furthermore, in the absence of National regulatory policy for cybersecurity there is a lack of awareness at both company level as well as individual level.

Two, companies often face big cyber security issues due to lack of capable people managing the cyber security solutions. This vulnerability increases when organizations engage with vendors that don’t follow cyber security protocols and don’t value the importance of data. In the absence of the cyber security protocols it is very difficult to protect netizens from the cyber-attacks. Moreover, in the absence of any legal framework, cyber espionage has become a norm in the connected world.

Three, data produced by the ever-growing number of online transactions be it customer information, results of product surveys, or generic market information create treasured intellectual property that is an attractive proposition for any cybercriminal. Data is critical for business and any breach brings in tremendous loss to business. There is a need of strong data protection policies and effective implementation of the same.

Four, businesses should have a complete inventory of all the IT assets present in their network. It is observed that one who fails to have an IT asset audit at regular interval get into deep trouble. In absence of the IT audit the organizations will fail to identify the gap in their system, and potential threats.

Five, it is also observed that the people inside a business are the biggest security loopholes. In 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, IBM found that 60% attacks in an organization are carried out by the insiders. As the threats come from trusted users and systems, they are very difficult to detect. It is important to have well-developed cybersecurity training centers that are designed to answer the requirements of government, business, and individuals.

 The future of cybersecurity will be led by a workforce that intentionally studied cybersecurity, rather than fell into it as a default. We are just now beginning to see this generation of truly cybersecurity-trained students enter the workforce, and as they continue to do so, we will begin to solve some of the systemic problems that have been caused by the lack of a skilled workforce. – Mike Stamas, Co-founder of GreyCastle Security

Cybersecurity race is on to secure systems, devices, network from cyber criminals. The government, business, and individuals can do their part by strategically working with cybersecurity experts and investing in solutions and infrastructures that protect their key digital asset, data, etc. This task is not easy, as the cybersecurity challenges are evolving every moment and that is keeping the cyber security experts constantly on their toes. The amount of financial and reputational damage a data breach can cause is huge and can affect small as well as large companies. It is a known fact that the challenge of cybersecurity is bound to increase over the near future and it is important for us to be prepared for any eventuality. In our mind the question that remains unanswered and needs an answer – Is India Cyber Security Ready?

Cybersecurity needs an immediate attention not only because as a nation we need to have a strong cyber security roadmap but also as it offers us a huge business opportunity. According to a NASSCOM, Data Security Council of India & PwC Report, India’s cybersecurity market for products and services will grow up to $35 billion in 10 years from the present $4.5 billion. Cybersecurity offers an opportunity to established IT players to increase its market presence and creates an environment for start-ups to make maximum out of it and establish themselves in the market.

The immediate opportunity for the cybersecurity experts and players includes – data protection framework for Aadhar and similar other initiatives, data protection framework for all e-commerce players, digital banks, ML/AI-enabled solutions, IoT-enabled solutions to achieve automation and efficiency, cloud-based security model, blockchain based security model, etc. The cybersecurity experts and players who will focus on these areas of development will not only build a global business for themselves but will also help the Indian cyber security ecosystem to grow and mature. This journey must be managed by professionals and supported by the government.

Small organizations are finally realizing that they need to be as prepared as large organizations when it comes to cybersecurity, making it no longer an IT problem but a larger business challenge within every organization. Additionally, we will see small businesses’ approach to cybersecurity impacting larger organizations through the supply chain vector. Hackers will take advantage of smaller organizations, which often fuel larger business’ supply chains, because they typically have security vulnerabilities that can be more readily exploited than larger ‘targeted’ companies – Brian NeSmith, CEO and co-founder, Arctic Wolf Networks

The need of cyber security is eminent for both small and big organizations. It is important to understand that most of these small organizations are a part of the large organizations value chain. Any vulnerability at the small organization level may end up reflecting in the large organization’s security. Hence, the progressive organizations are not only answering their cybersecurity needs, but also reworking on their cybersecurity framework and architecture to support the business more effectively and efficiently. The organization that have shown commitment toward cybersecurity are progressively using artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, machine learning, and analytics to increase the security of their key assets and data. These organizations are aware of the fact that the cybercriminals are becoming more intelligent, networked and agile in their operations. They understand that their price of failure is high.

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