Episode 89: What is cybersecurity?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Summary by Ellie Roberts

On this week’s episode, Dr Bahijja Raimi-Abraham discusses cybersecurity with Ronald Eddings. Ronald is the Creative Director of Axonius, a cybersecurity start-up, and a Co-Host of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast.

Listen to the full episode here.

First of all, what is cybersecurity?

“Cybersecurity is the fabric and the foundation that keeps information, data, and identities safe in a technological mean” – Ronald

Having sufficient security interventions in place is an integral part of feeling safe, from physical security measures such as

home smart devices, to online security

Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels controls, policies and guidelines.

Cybersecurity is home smart devices, to online security controls, policies and guidelines. Cybersecurity is concerned with the protection of internet-connected systems to reduce the risk of cyber attacks or ‘hacking’.

How does hacking actually happen?

Hacking happens when people are able to break these security controls to access systems in ways which were not intended or designed to be used. However, hacking can also occur socially through simply speaking to people – this type of hacking is called social engineering. You can change the way in which someone behaves, or the things they may be likely to do, just through talking – in other words, simply convincing, or perhaps manipulating, someone to do something they are not meant to do. However, most hacking is associated with the technological type.

Ronald describes the dark web as a “marketplace” where you can buy information and other people’s data. If a company or website gets hacked, all of their passwords could be leaked on the dark web.

In fact, you can check whether your passwords have ever been leaked on HaveIBeenPWNED.com through the form of a hacking breach.

Keep your devices updated…

“If you were to be sent a file on your computer, [or] your phone, and you were to open it, there is a possibility [that] you don’t have the latest updated software, or the hacker has found a vulnerability within that piece of software no one knows about” – Ronald

Hackers can gain access to a system and put a wrap on the device that allows them to turn on specific features such as the microphone or camera and run commands. For example, after turning on the camera, a hacker could run a command to upload a file or image to a specific destination.

There has been an increase in the amount of people using laptop webcam covers as people become more aware of cyber threats, however even if a hacker may not be able to see you, they could still hear you.

Secret information can also be sent through files or images – this is called ‘steganography’. Someone could hide extra information within a normal-looking image, which can harm your device if you open the file.

“Everything that is sent through or transmitted to your device one way or another can be exploitable, meaning that someone can break into your device. It can be a text message, it can be a picture, it can be a video” – Ronald

Which industries are at greater risk of cyber-attacks?

Although each hacker has different motives, a lot of the time that motive is what makes the world go around – money. Industries which have a lot of money, such as financial institutions, health services and insurance, are a big target for hackers.

Ransomware is becoming increasingly popular throughout news coverage – this is when a hacker breaks into an organisation and encrypts all of their files. After encrypting their files, they could display a message on their screen saying: “if you want these files back, you have to pay us a ransom, and if you don’t pay the ransom in a specific amount of time, we’ll leave all these files and information to the public, or completely erase them” – this can shut a business down completely.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

How has COVID-19 impacted cybersecurity?

“It has changed everything” – Ronald

There is a wealth of opportunity for organisations through digital transformation, taking their typical on-premises technology and putting it in the cloud. As more applications are put in the cloud, and more connected software such as Zoom and Google Hangouts are used, there has never been more demand for increased cloud cybersecurity.

Hackers are aware that people are more attached to their devices or are working from home, and so are increasing their efforts through sending people more fake text, emails or websites. Especially during the pandemic, more people are using online banking, so there is much more opportunity for hackers to try and replicate banking websites to get people to log in with their actual banking details.

“We are doing everything from a single laptop, and if you get into the laptop, then you have the keys to the kingdom” – Ronald

Want to know more?

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