What is Cyber Security?


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What is Cyber Security?

With the rapid increase of attacks and the substantial disruptions caused to organisations, cyber security has been thrusted into the media spotlight.

Cyber security can be defined as practises used to ensure the integrity, confidentiality and available of information. This includes risk management, technologies, training and adopting industry best practises to protect network, devices, software and data from unauthorised access.

The Cost of Cyber crime

Cybercrime is on the rise and becoming more expensive for organisations to deal with. Despite our remote location, Australia is heavily bombarded by cyber-attacks which have accumulated an astounding $US6.9 million in damages. The average costs of a cybercrime attack to a business is $276, 323 which takes into account business disruption, information loss, revenue loss, productivity loss and equipment damage. The lack of focus on cybersecurity can be impactful in more ways than one. With a lack of faith in businesses, customers will be more inclined to venture to competitors, leading to a loss of revenue. Threat actors aren’t the only group that businesses should look out for, emerging privacy laws can also lead to hefty fines for businesses who do not protect the sensitive information of their stakeholders.

Types of Cyber Risks

Malware: Is any harmful program or file that is harmful to a computer system. Although malware can’t physically damage your hardware, it can steal, encrypt, delete your data or even hijack key computer functions.

Social Engineering: Criminals are adapting their attack methodologies and taking advantage of the human element – the weakest link of cyber security. This method involves manipulating their victims into revealing sensitive information. An example would be criminals impersonating an IT company and requesting log in credentials into a secure database.

Ransomware: Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts an infected device’s files. The hacker usually demands a ransom payment within a time frame to unlock the files. If the demands have not been met within the prescribed time, the encrypted files will be deleted.

Phishing: Involves contacting targets by email, telephone or text messages and tricking them into revealing sensitive information. Methods can include posing as legitimate institutions or luring their victims into clicking malicious links.

Insider threat: It could be unaware employees clicking malicious links or ex-staff members sharing sensitive details, users can be an actor vector when it comes to cyber security. The fix for this problem is educating employees on cyber security awareness and monitoring their activities.

Why we need Cyber Security

The goal of cyber security is to help prevent cyber-attacks. As organisations become more digitalised and store more information on their computers and devices, cyber criminals are also developing more sophisticated methods of cyber-attacks. Without cyber security, both organisations and individuals become vulnerable to threat actors. By securing such vulnerabilities, business can continue operating with a peace of mind.

Some benefits of cyber security include:

  • End-user protection
  • Improved confidence in the product for all stakeholders
  • Decreases down time after a breach
  • Protection of data and network
  • Minimal business disruptions

Adopting Cyber Security controls into your organisation

Some steps that organisations can take in order to improve their cyber security posture:

Cease the usage of unsupported software

Although still useable, unsupported software will no longer receive updates or patches to protect against threats. If a security is present, then the software can be compromised making its users vulnerable to a cyber-attack.

Regularly installing updates

Updates are designed to correct weaknesses in software and programs. If they are not updated frequently, they will present a vulnerability for hackers to attack your devices.

Use anti-virus software

Anti-virus software can be used to scan and detect any malicious or infected files on your device.

Promote the usage of strong passwords

‘Password123’ is not a secure password. Passwords are meant to be secure in order to protect accounts from unauthorised access. Having an easy to guess password, puts sensitive information at risk. For more important accounts, two-factor authentication is recommended.

Delete suspicious emails and avoid clicking on attachments or links from unknown senders

Inexperienced users may be fooled into opening attachments or clicking on links sent from cyber criminals. These malicious attachments or links can contain malware designed to spy on or gain access to the host device.

Frequently back up your data

Many organisations have become victims of data breaches and had their data wiped. By regularly backing up your data on offsite servers, you minimise the loss of information and business downtime.

A Career in Cyber Security

With the Australian industry expecting to need up to 18,000 cyber security professionals by 2026, it has never been a better time to consider a career in this field. Many of these roles are currently being filled by employees transitioning from similar sectors such as information technology.

The shortage in skills has pushed universities to implement cyber security courses and degrees. Although helpful, a degree is not a must have for students who are considering a career in cyber security. It should be noted that it’s possible to enter the industry with a more general degree in a related field such as computer science, IT or engineering. Graduates can improve their hiring competitiveness by obtaining relevant certifications, attending networking workshops and internships.

Jobs in Cyber Security

As the industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, industry roles are becoming more defined. These include:

Cyber security analyst: Analyse and assesses weakness in IT infrastructure. They also review and report on any suspicious activities such as intrusion attempts to improve the company’s security posture.

Cyber security engineer: designs, develops and deploys secure network solutions to defend against cyber-attacks.

Cyber security manager: A more advanced role, the cyber security manager oversees security systems and teams. A strong understanding of information security concepts, information assurance security policies in order to create plans for security protocols and audits.

Cyber security consultant: A cyber security consultant is called upon by organisations to fill their cyber security void. Essentially a jack of all trades, their tasks will vary day to day but may include, pen testing, firewall management and analysing vulnerabilities in IT systems.

Cyber security architect: Are responsible for developing and maintaining security structures. They can also lead security teams be involved in creating security policies and procedures.

Penetration tester: Their job involves finding vulnerabilities within IT infrastructure and web apps and reporting their findings to stakeholders.

Incident responder: Their key role is to prevent cyber-attacks from occurring and to immediately alleviate the impact dealt to organisations. Knowledge of hardware and software is key.

Cybercrime investigator: Is centred between computing and law enforcement. Investigators recover, gather and analyse data. They also utilise their skills to look for evidence leading to the source of the breach, which attack vectors were used and what type of attack has occurred.

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji is the CEO of Gridware, a leading cybersecurity consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. An emerging thought leader in cybersecurity, Ahmed is an Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and regularly contributes to cybersecurity conversations in Australia. As well as his extensive background as a security advisor to large Australian enterprises, he is a regular keynote speaker and guest lecturer on offensive cybersecurity topics and blockchain.


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