Cybersecurity: Protection in a Growing Cyber World

Todays modern society has integrated with the Internet in more ways than we can imagine. From social media, online shopping, and communication, cyber-world is rapidly becoming a core aspect of our lives. However, with this rapid integration, it is vital that the personal security, that comes with this technology, is properly prepared to handle threats of intrusion from malicious actors. But what protection is there to defend against what is known as a “hacker”? I hope this post will shed some light on the cyber-world’s defenses and how government plays a key role in providing this defense.

To start off, it is important to remember that is defined as a “hacker” is a broad term that needs further clarification. There are three types of “hackers”: white hat, dark hat, and grey hat hackers. White Hat Hackers are cyber-security professionals who work as an IT consultant for a company, or an IT Firm, whose goal is to protect the company from a malicious intrusion. While White Hat hackers are considered “The Good Guys”, Dark Hat hackers are known as the criminals who attempt to penetrate computer systems to inflict malicious intent upon their victims. Grey hat hackers operate in the questionable realms of the cyber world, neither malicious nor protectors, but do reach out to government’s to report holes in systems that could be exploited.

While cyber intrusions happen frequently, there have been notorious hacker breaches that have troubled many people. Private companies like Sony, and Equifax, have been the victims of malicious hackers penetrating cyber defenses and causing mayhem by disrupting operations, or data theft in the case of Equifax, that cause panic in the business community. More troubling is the breaches that occur in our government servers. In 2015, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was breached and thousands of government employees had their personal information stolen.

With these breaches in mind, what has government done in response to increased cyber attacks? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has spearheaded a massive initiative to counter these increased threats. Some of these initiatives include building a cyber response center, National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), to monitor cyber traffic and alert private companies of potential breaches. DHS also stages training scenarios to showcase the threat of cyber intrusions. In a staged cyber-security attack, the drill, known as Project Aurora, provided useful insight into what a cyber attack on a key infrastructure target would do if the target was not adequately protected from cyber intrusions. As a result, DHS has pushed initiatives, like the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community C³ Voluntary Program, have created partnerships between DHS and the various organizations that manage our critical infrastructure; with 85% of critical infrastructure being operated by private actors. Finally, collaborative efforts, like the Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program (CISCP), offer a chance for private companies to share information with DHS to help identify potential holes in cyber-security.

As you can see, government leaders take the threat of cybersecurity very seriously. This threat impacts, not only government, but the private sector too. This disruption in commerce, theft of commercial property, and threat of personal data theft, is a major issue that impacts users as the Internet becomes more integrated into our lives. The best thing that we can do, as users of the Internet, is become aware of the threats that are out there and learn how to defend ourselves from malicious black hat hackers. I found this article, from Heimdal Security, to be an enlightening resource to improve your home internet security. As always, use caution when you give out personal data and remember to keep up to date with strong passwords. Until then, I hope you found this to be an enlightening article on cyber-security.

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