In the last five to seven years, information technology teams have been overwhelmed by new cyber threats, with numerous high-profile breaches in the retail, financial and healthcare industries.
Smaller companies have also been hacked to exploit vulnerabilities in their larger client counterparts. The traditional style of IT security, where onsite networks, workstations and servers are protected, is no longer sufficient because a company’s overall IT infrastructure is no longer limited to fixed, on-premise equipment.
Wi-Fi, mobile devices (whether company-owned or employees' personal devices), the "cloud," Big Data and infrastructure solutions that allow remote monitoring or configuration such as security systems, all add points of attack.
Unfortunately, the skills necessary to combat all of these potential threats are scarce. In fact, according to a 2015 global cybersecurity report by ISACA (formerly known as Information Systems Audit and Control Association), of 3,439 professionals surveyed, 86 percent believe there is a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals and 34 percent expect difficulty in finding skilled staff.
Education is obviously the solution, with new and existing IT professionals specializing in areas with skill shortages to enhance their career prospects. Take the Utica College Online MBA program, for example, which offers programs focused on IT specialties with practical experience leading to specialized jobs. Cybersecurity and cyber policy are just two of the available options.
A qualified cybersecurity expert in a typical company environment is well positioned to deal with the top cyber threats, in addition to standard on-premise security. Potential threats include but are not limited to:
Phishing and malware attacks have been used for many years but have become more sophisticated. In phishing, the unwary recipient is tricked into clicking a link or opening an attachment, which then infects the computer and grants access to the network. Malware or malicious software is versatile and can consist of a virus or corrupt software that goes unnoticed. Cybersecurity professionals are able to identify the intrusion and remove it. They will also draft training materials to make employees aware of hacker methods in this area because human error is a root cause of this particular threat.
Ransomware operates on the same principle, with users clicking on an attachment from a so-called trusted or unknown party, preventing access to the computer until a predefined ransom amount is paid to the hacker in a virtual digital currency that cannot be traced. As removal is difficult, a robust backup strategy is necessary.
With an increasing amount of data stored in the cloud, it is an obvious target for hackers. Cybersecurity professionals need knowledge of virtualization, cloud platforms and more to successfully combat threats. In cases where administration is carried out remotely, knowledge of password management, authentication policies for all users and encryption is essential.
Computing on the move is of great benefit to companies, but it can create security vulnerabilities. If you consider the increased adoption of Wi-Fi, bring your own device (BYOD) and the use of collaborative apps, you can appreciate the difficulties associated with protecting and tracking company data.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Smart buildings are on the rise, and while remote access and configuration are useful, hackers can maliciously use an IoT-enabled device or sensor to gain access to a network. Whether those sensors are linked to security systems, fire alarms, HVAC or window blinds, vulnerabilities are possible.
With all of these potential threats, the value of compromised data to hackers and a growing tendency to connect our cars and vehicles, cybersecurity is an area that requires a complex set of skills. If you add compulsory regulations involving data privacy, storage of health care data and credit card information, and the growing possibility of e-discovery litigation, it becomes clear that a company-based cybersecurity specialist is not a debatable requirement but an essential one.
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