What is computer security? Information Technology Security


Definition of computer security

Computer security is the general term used to describe the collective strategies, methods, solutions and tools used to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the organization’s data and digital assets.

A comprehensive IT security strategy relies on a combination of advanced technologies and human resources to prevent, detect and remediate a variety of cyber threats and cyber attacks. It will include the protection of all hardware systems, software applications and endpoints, as well as the network itself and its various components, such as physical or cloud-based data centers.

Why do you need computer security?

Over the past decade, virtually every aspect of business has moved online. This has exposed every organization to the risk of being the target of a cyberattack, the purpose of which may be to steal sensitive information, such as customer data and payment details, intellectual property or trade secrets, or simply harm the reputation of the organization.

Additionally, the growing popularity of remote working, the move to the cloud, as well as a proliferation of connected devices have provided hackers and others cybercriminals almost unlimited possibilities to launch an attack. This expanded attack surface, combined with the growing sophistication of digital adversaries, has forced organizations to strengthen and update their security practices to protect cloud-based assets, in particular.

To some extent, computer security is a matter of law. Some countries legally require companies to invest in the development and implementation of IT security concepts, while other regions impose strict privacy and data security standards.

Types of computer security

IT security is an umbrella term that incorporates any plan, measure, or tool to protect the organization’s digital assets. Elements of computer security include:

cyber security is the act of defending digital assets, including networks, systems, computers and data, against cyber attacks.

Endpoint Securityor endpoint protection, is the process of protecting endpoints on a network (such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices) from malicious activity.

Cloud Security is the collective term for the strategy and solutions that protect the cloud infrastructure, as well as any service or application hosted in the cloud environment, against cyber threats.

Application Security refers to actions taken to reduce vulnerability at the application level to prevent data or application code from being stolen, disclosed, or compromised.

internet security refers to the tools, technologies, and processes that protect the network and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks and harmful activity. It includes a combination of preventive and defensive measures designed to deny unauthorized access to resources and data.

Container Security is the ongoing process of protecting containers – as well as the container pipeline, deployment infrastructure, and provisioning – against cyber threats.

IoT Security is a subsector of cybersecurity that focuses on protecting, monitoring, and resolving threats related to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the network of connected IoT devices that collect, store, and share data through the Internet .

The Difference Between Computer Security and Information Security (InfoSec)

Sometimes used interchangeably, computer security and information security (InfoSec) are two distinct concepts. The main difference between the two terms concerns the form in which the data is stored and, by extension, the way in which it is protected.

InfoSec refers to the protection of data in any form. This can refer to securing data stored electronically, as well as physical security measures such as locking filing cabinets or requiring access keys to enter an office.

Computer security, on the other hand, is limited to protecting data and other assets only in digital form.

Expert advice

IT and infosec teams must often work together to determine where to focus often limited resources when it comes to patching and resolving security vulnerabilities. Learn more about the patch management process and best practices: Read: What is patch management?

The difference between computer security and cybersecurity

Another important distinction can be made between computer security and cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity refers to protecting the organization against unauthorized access and malicious attacks.

Computer security, in comparison, is broader in nature. It includes any capability that helps protect and maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data against any digital threat. This may include protection against security issues that are not malicious in nature, such as faulty hardware components or incorrect system configurations.

IT security risks

Computer security can be divided into two main areas: system disruptions and targeted malicious attacks.

System disruption may include the temporary interruption of business operations due to any system component, such as faulty hardware, network outages, or software problems. In these scenarios, the business risks losing revenue due to inoperability or possible reputational damage.

While maintaining full system operation is an important part of IT security, the most pressing aspect involves cyberattacks, most of which are designed to access or steal data and other sensitive information. Common cyberattacks include:

Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)
An advanced persistent threat (APT) is a sophisticated and sustained cyberattack in which an intruder establishes an undetected presence in a network in order to steal sensitive data over an extended period. An APT attack is carefully planned and engineered to infiltrate a specific organization, evade existing security measures, and fly under the radar.

Malware is a term used to describe any program or code created with the intent to harm a computer, network or server. Common types of malware include viruses, ransomware, keyloggers, Trojans, worms, and spyware.

Phishing is a type of cyberattack that uses email, text, phone or social media to trick a victim into sharing personal information – such as passwords or account numbers – or downloading a file malware that will install viruses on their computer or phone.

DoS or DDoS
A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is a malicious, targeted attack that floods a network with bogus requests in order to disrupt business operations. During a DoS attack, users are unable to perform routine and necessary tasks, such as accessing email, websites, online accounts, or other resources operated by a computer or a compromised network.

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt by malicious actors to render a service or system (e.g., a server, network resource, or even a specific transaction) unavailable by flooding the resource with requests.

A botnet is a network of compromised computers that are overseen by a command and control (C&C) channel. The person operating the command and control infrastructure, the bot herder or botmaster, uses the compromised computers, or bots, to launch attacks designed to crash a target’s network, inject malware, collect information identification or perform CPU-intensive tasks.

Internal threats
An insider threat is a cybersecurity attack that originates within the organization, usually through a current or former employee.

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IT Security Best Practices

Despite the prevalence of the term IT security, security is not “an IT problem”. Nor is it a problem that will be solved by technology alone. In order to develop a comprehensive and effective cybersecurity strategy, the organization must consider its policies, processes, and technologies across all business functions. Additionally, all network users should be properly trained to behave responsibly online, as well as to spot signs of common network attacks.

A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is absolutely essential in today’s connected world. The most effective cybersecurity strategies combine human resources with advanced technological solutions, such as AI, ML, and other forms of intelligent automation to better detect anomalous activity and increase response and remediation time.

Components of a comprehensive IT security strategy include:

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a comprehensive solution that identifies and contextualizes suspicious activity to help the security team prioritize response and remediation efforts in the event of a security breach.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is a cybersecurity service that combines technology and human expertise to perform threat research, monitoring and response. The main advantage of MDR is that it can quickly identify and limit the impact of threats without the need for additional personnel.

Incident Response (IR) refers to the measures taken by the organization to prepare for, detect, contain and recover from a data breach. This component typically ends with the development of an incident response plan, which is a document outlining the steps and procedures the organization will follow in the event of a security incident.

Next Generation Antivirus (NGAV) uses a combination of artificial intelligence, behavioral detection, machine learning algorithms, and exploit mitigation, so known and unknown security threats can be anticipated and immediately prevented.

Penetration Testing, or penetration testing, is the simulation of real attacks in order to test an organization’s detection and response capabilities.


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