Jack is out for a stroll when his phone starts to blow up with a crisis at work. He's furiously responding to texts, completely absorbed in his phone. He doesn't notice Jill walking towards him, eyeing his phone. When Jill runs off with Jack's phone - is that cybersecurity or a physical security breach? It's both. Read on.
What is Cybersecurity?
"Cybersecurity" refers to the strategies and methods used to protect digital devices, systems, and data from cyber criminals. Its definition is simple to say but challenging to execute. Digital devices are everywhere, communicating with each other, constantly sharing our digital data. That's a lot of digital touch points for hackers to target.
No wonder then that global spending on cybersecurity is expected to hit $130 billion in 2020. Cybersecurity requires expertise and dedication.
You have a range of tools available to help protect your devices and your data. Let's take a look at some of the main ways hackers try to mess with your online security.
Messing with your Ability to Operate or Use your Data.
One way hackers do this is through a virus. A virus can be programmed to disable your computer or mobile phone or destroy files and data. Another option is to block your access but keep the device or data in working order. For example, a hacker could change your password to an online account, so you can't get to it. More commonly, hackers will use a virus to encrypt your data or lock down your device. Called a ransomware attack, hackers take control of your data or device and demand a ransom to give you back control. Anti-virus software that scans emails and internet traffic is one tool that helps protect against these risks.
Stealing and Using Your Data.
Organizations, including retailers, employers, and schools, protect their network and data. Yet you've no doubt read about the data breaches that occur anyway. Cybercriminals may get your private information by attacking you directly. The bigger fish though is a large organization that holds private data for a lot of people. Stealing high-value data like a social security number or date of birth is a necessary part of identity theft. Personal and financial data can be bought on the dark web for as little as $40.
You can't (and shouldn't) rely on companies to keep their private data safe. You can take common-sense cybersecurity steps such as using strong passwords, monitoring your credit report and financial accounts, shredding paper documents, and not over-sharing through social media. Anyone who wants greater security protection plus assistance in the event identity theft occurs, can subscribe to an identity protection service. These services not only scan the dark web for your personal information, they often include identity theft insurance coverage.
What is Physical Security?
Physical security is a much easier concept to wrap out heads around. From the first time a caveman tried to steal the antelope cooking in the next cave over, humans have understood the need for personal security. It's in our DNA. We instinctively understand the need for personal security.
We look our doors. We carry our wallets in hard to reach places. We avoid areas we don't know late at night. We don't stick to just preventative measures, we also take steps to minimize potential damage. For some, this may mean taking a self defense class. Sometimes it's as simple as buying insurance to protect against theft.
This multi-layer approach to physical security has its mirror in cybersecurity. We're often using new digital technologies to add layers to our physical safety.
Where Cybersecurity and Physical Security Meet.
The intersection of cybersecurity and physical security is interesting. Let's look at the change in home protection systems. They used to be loud alarms and automated 911 phone calls. Now they're digital cameras and intrusion monitors that show you who's ringing your doorbell and sends an alert when a window opens. Technology is improving your physical security. Yet a wireless security system has the same vulnerabilities as any other wireless network. Defensive cybersecurity tactics like strong passwords and 2 Factor encryption now are becoming part of your physical security.
When Jack lost his phone, he lost access to all its data. Depending on how well (or not) he secured his phone, he may have online accounts, money, and his identity at risk now too. One option to improve the cybersecurity of his phone is to use fingerprint or face recognition technology to unlock it. The physical world enhances your digital security.
While the physical and cybersecurity risks still exist, today we're able to improve our overall security by using a combination of digital and physical tools. As our cyber and physical worlds continue to meld, we'll likely see more convergence of technology and physical defenses.