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Introduction to Cyber Security: Everything Beginners Need to Know

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13th Sep, 2023
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Introduction to Cyber Security: Everything Beginners Need to Know

The importance of securing the digital space cannot be overstated in a world that is increasingly dependent on digitisation. From personal data to critical infrastructure, everything is connected to the vast internet network. This leaves data vulnerable to cyberattacks, resulting in cybercrimes like identity theft and hacking. The increased number of cyberattacks means knowing cybersecurity basics is essential. 

This blog offers a comprehensive overview of how to learn cybersecurity. Learn about the CIA Triad Principle, cyber threats, other cybersecurity basics for beginners, and career opportunities.

Understanding the Basics of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is the practice of providing security to systems connected through the internet. These systems can range from mobile devices, IoTs, networks, and computers to servers. Also, going by the names information technology security and electronic information security, cybersecurity is widely adopted by businesses and individuals to protect their computer systems from unauthorised data access.

The various cyberattacks include hacking, malware infections, data breaches, etc. The primary goal of cybersecurity is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of digital assets.

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A good cybersecurity strategy revolves around three main terms – people, methods and technology. This three-bladed approach helps businesses protect themselves from both internal threats and organised attacks.

What Is the CIA Triad Principle?

The CIA Triad (confidentiality, integrity and availability) is a cybersecurity model that guides companies in developing security protocols. CIA Triad has been in place for computer security ever since mainframe computers came into being. Let’s look at the three aspects in detail.

1. Confidentiality

According to confidentiality, only authorised systems or people have the right to view classified or sensitive material. Unauthorised individuals must not have access to the information sent over a network.

Encryption methods can protect data. Even if the hacker accesses confidential data, they won’t be able to decrypt it. Some other techniques to establish confidentiality are:

  • Security token
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Biometric verification
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel

2. Integrity

Integrity refers to preventing unauthorised people from modifying information. Only authorised people can alter and remove classified data. Corruption of information can mean failure to maintain integrity. Some methods to ensure integrity are:

  • Backing up data
  • Cryptographic checksums
  • Constant power supplies

3. Availability

Availability refers to the fact that users should have access to the network. This applies both to data and systems. The network administrator must perform regular upgrades, maintain hardware and have a fail-over plan to guarantee availability.

Availability ensures that cyberattacks do not hinder the system. The attacks can come in the form of DDoS, human errors or hardware failures.

A few ways to maintain availability are:

  • Data redundancy
  • Creating firewalls
  • Backing up information to storage devices

Fundamentals of Cybersecurity Beginners Must Learn

When discussing cybersecurity for beginners, it is imperative to consider the importance of technical skills to build a successful career in the field. Here’s a look at some of the basics beginners must master to learn cybersecurity:

Data

You need to learn the various data types and the modes of classification and identify the moments when you need to call an expert.

Software skills

A working knowledge of computers and various operating systems can be useful. You must learn about cloud security environments and develop a knack for using software such as antivirus apps and office suites.

Networks

Gain information about intrusion detection systems and firewalls. Learn how VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) function.

Mobile security

Since the popularity of remote working, data breaches have become common. As employers use their own devices for work, the company’s security is at risk. You must learn about mobile device management to stay on top of hackers.

Cybersecurity laws

Familiarise yourself with the latest cybersecurity laws and strategies. This way, you will know whether there has been any violation and what steps to take.

Ethical hacking

Learn using cybersecurity tools and develop knowledge of ethical hacking basics. Gain information on hacking methods such as password cracking, session spoofing and network traffic sniffing.

Check out our free technology courses to get an edge over the competition.

Background of Cybersecurity and Hacking

Words such as viruses, worms, spyware and malware were uncommon in the IT sector forty years ago. With the emergence of viruses, cybersecurity emerged. It started as a research effort in the 1970s when Robert Thomas of BBN Technologies in Cambridge developed the foremost computer ‘worm’, ‘The Creeper’.

“I’M THE CREEPER: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN” was the Creeper’s message as it hopped from system to system, infecting computers. The email creator, Ray Tomlinson, designed the first antivirus program to chase and eliminate Creeper.

Near the end of 1988, Robert Morris wanted to measure the internet’s size. He created a program that traversed networks, entered Unix terminals and cloned itself to do this. The Morris worm rendered computers completely unusable by drastically slowing them down. He was later the first to be found guilty under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

After this event, viruses grew deadlier, more invasive, and difficult to manage. The development of cybersecurity coincided with it.

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Uses of Cybersecurity

Now that we have covered the cybersecurity basics, let’s move to the real-world applications.

Identifying threats

Cybersecurity professionals use threat hunting to monitor data regularly to find security lapses and vulnerabilities in computer systems. This can improve the accuracy of computer systems and optimise networks.

Securing personal data

A company has to ensure the security of its data, including its customers’ personal data and its own financial details. If left unsecure, cybercriminals can misuse the information, potentially threatening the company’s finances and reputation. 

Developing antivirus and firewalls

Knowledge of cybersecurity helps create antivirus software and firewalls that offer network security. Companies often use computer systems to store information on stock markets, debit cards, online banking data, etc. Firewalls can prevent hackers from attacking such data.

Check Out upGrad’s Software Development Courses to upskill yourself.

Basic Cybersecurity Terminologies

Here are some essential cybersecurity terminologies beginners must be aware of.

  • Internet Protocols – The transferring of data cannot follow just any path. It has to follow a set of rules known as Internet Protocol that control its internet path. 
  • IP Address – Each device connected to a computer network has an IP address (Internet Protocol address) for communication. An example of an IP address is 172.152.10.1
  • DNS (Domain Name Server) – DNS can be defined as the internet’s phonebook. It consists of links and all IP addresses.
  • MAC Address – Each device connected to the internet has a unique identification number called MAC address. Traditionally, these addresses consist of 12-digit hexadecimal numbers.
  • Bots – These are software that can take control of your device without your knowledge. Bots can automatically change your computer settings and send emails.

Cybersecurity Attack and Threat Types

Understanding the types of cyber threats is crucial for beginners in cybersecurity. Some common threats include:

  • Malware – A harmful software consisting of a file that can impair a computer system. There are various malware, such as trojans, spyware, viruses and worms.
  • Social engineering – This type of cyber attack is reliant on human interaction. Users get tricked into breaking security processes, enabling hackers to access sensitive data.
  • DDoS (Distributed denial-of-service) attacks – These involve several systems interfering with the operation of a targeted system. Attackers can slow down or disrupt a target system by flooding it with messages or connection requests, thus blocking legitimate traffic from accessing it.
  • Phishing – A type of social engineering where fake email messages resembling known sources are sent. Attackers aim to steal sensitive information, such as login data through phishing.
  • MITM (Man-in-the-middle) attacks – This is an eavesdropping attack where an attacker intercepts the conversation between two parties. The attacker stations themselves between the two sides and acts like genuine participants. They can gain access to sensitive customer or business data.
  • SQL Injection – Cyber criminals use harmful SQL scripts to manipulate backend data to get access to sensitive data. If the attack is successful, they can modify company data or even private client details, which are stored in the SQL database.

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Cybersecurity Job Roles

A cybersecurity course for beginners can open up a host of job roles in the field, some of which are mentioned below:

  • CISO (Chief Information Security Officer)

They implement the security programme all over the company and are responsible for the working of the IT security department.

  • Security Analyst

Their job is to protect digital files, conduct external and internal security audits and plan security measures.

  • Security Architects

These professionals look after an organisation’s security system. They plan, design, analyse, test and maintain it.

  • Security Engineers

Their work is to safeguard the company assets from dangers, with an eye on quality control.

Cyber Security Certification Courses for Beginners

When discussing cybersecurity certification for beginners, there are many courses to choose from. Here are a few of them.

1. Advanced Certificate Programme in Cybersecurity from upGrad

A course designed for working professionals, this certification course will allow you to learn from top cybersecurity experts. The programme offers classes on various industry-relevant tools and languages besides ethical hacking and cryptography.

2. CompTIA Security+ (Plus) Certification – SY0-601 Exam Training from Simplilearn

This is a globally trusted certification that beginners can apply to learn risk management and network security. You will learn skills to configure systems and perform threat analysis while participating in risk mitigation activities.

3. Introduction to Cybersecurity Specialisation from Coursera

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Beginners can enroll in this course and better understand the latest information technology. Learn about the various aspects of cybersecurity and develop a passion for the field. Offering hands-on training in handling practical scenarios, beginners master techniques of assessing and improving cyber risk posture.

Cybersecurity Best Practices

Practising cybersecurity measures is essential to maintain data integrity and privacy. Follow the given steps for enhanced cybersecurity:

  • Use strong passwords – Always remember to use distinct passwords for various websites. It can be easy for a hacker to breach multiple accounts if you use the same password. Use different combinations of numbers, letters and special characters and change your password as often as possible.
  • Use antivirus software – There is no alternative to good antivirus software. It detects any unwanted threats and removes them from your system. Always update the software to get the latest features.
  • Backup data – Backup your data periodically into external storage devices. This will ensure that you do not lose sensitive data in a security breach. 
  • Update your systems – The best way to stay ahead of cyberattacks is by regularly updating your operating systems and software. An older system is prone to cyberattacks.
  • Avoid using public WiFi – It is best to avoid unsecured networks, but if you must, use a VPN. It is more difficult for hackers to access sensitive data if you use a VPN than it is if you use public WiFi. Try to use mobile data when you are in public places.

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Conclusion

Cybersecurity is not merely an option but a necessity in our digitally interconnected world. Understanding the cybersecurity basics for beginners and its importance is the first step on a journey that promises to be both challenging and rewarding. With the right education, practice, and commitment to staying informed, you can become a valuable defender of digital assets and help secure our digital future. 

Profile

Rohan Vats

Blog Author
Software Engineering Manager @ upGrad. Passionate about building large scale web apps with delightful experiences. In pursuit of transforming engineers into leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Can beginners learn cybersecurity?

It is easy for beginners to take up a cybersecurity course. It might seem challenging initially, but with time, anyone can become a cybersecurity expert with the right skills.

2 How can I get into cybersecurity with no experience?

If you do not have any cybersecurity experience, we recommend enrolling in a cybersecurity course for beginners. There are many available online. Select any that suits you best based on your goals, schedule and area of interest.

3Is cybersecurity a good career?

Cybersecurity is one of the top-growing fields in the IT sector. It is a promising career and one of the highest-paid ones in the market.

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