What is Cybersecurity? What You Need to Know

By Phoebe Fasulo

Posted on Feb 24, 2020

The business world is more reliant on technology than ever before. Digital solutions such as cloud-based applications and connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices have enabled organizations to streamline operations, cutting costs and increasing customer satisfaction. With that in mind, the push for digitization has raised several security concerns, as many times the solutions companies implement expose them to increased levels of external threat activity.

As a result, cybersecurity has become integral to organizational success. For this reason, companies must prioritize cybersecurity when modernizing their business practices. This will allow you to more accurately report on your organization’s cyber health and ensure continuous compliance with regulatory standards and frameworks.

What is cybersecurity and why is it important?

At its core, cybersecurity is the set of actions that your company takes to safeguard both customer and employee data from damage or unauthorized access. This can be applied to a variety of business contexts as the need to protect information is a necessity regardless of company size or industry.

In the past, security was relatively easy to maintain, however, the introduction of new technologies presented cybercriminals with new ways to exploit system vulnerabilities and steal valuable information. Data breaches tend to have devastating effects on an organization as it can be very difficult to rebuild customer trust once you have been compromised. Breaches can also lead to significant fines from regulatory boards for non-compliance with data privacy laws which can impact corporate revenue and future business objectives.

Common types of cybersecurity

The types of cybersecurity you invest in are important as each will play a role in informing the actions you take to prevent breaches. These will vary depending on what industry you are in and what your business objectives are. For example, a company that relies heavily on cloud applications to conduct business will want to focus on cloud security and data protection when building cybersecurity strategies.

With that in mind, the essential types of cybersecurity are as follows:

Network security

Network security is the practice of securing your internal network from unauthorized intrusions or malicious activity. Having an effective network security program in place will help to ensure that your internal network infrastructure is safe from external threats. Some common examples of network security solutions include firewalls, antivirus, and encryption software.

Application security

Application security is focused on keeping the devices and applications your business uses free of threats. For application security to be effective, security needs to be worked in during the design phase. It can be very difficult to implement security measures on devices and applications that are already in use.

Cloud security

Cloud security involves the protection of data used in cloud-based services or applications. This requires constant monitoring of data usage across cloud environments to flag any potential threat activity. While cloud security tools offer protection from cyber threats, it is recommended that organizations back up their data so it can be easily recovered in the event of a breach.

Data loss prevention

Data loss prevention is the practice of securing data while it is being stored or while it is in transit. This typically requires specific software that can monitor data usage at various stages so that it can then detect potential intrusions.

Common types of cyberthreats

Cybercriminals will typically leverage several different attack vectors. When building a cybersecurity strategy, the most common types of cyberthreats you will want to protect against include:


Malware refers to various forms of harmful software that are specifically designed to damage or gain unauthorized access to a computer system. Some of the most common forms of malware include viruses, ransomware, Trojans, and botnets. Part of the reason malware is so hard to protect against is the fact that there are many different channels on which it can be distributed. This is why it is important to always double-check your online activity and avoid any suspicious links or emails.


Phishing is an attack method that utilizes email to gain access to a network or computer system. Attackers will impersonate company officials or trusted brands and send out mass emails with malicious software attached. What makes this threat particularly dangerous is that it usually only requires one employee within an organization to open the email and download the malware to compromise an entire network.

Insider threats

Insider threats differ from traditional cyber threats because they are facilitated by individuals who are known to an organization. This makes detecting and managing these threats extremely difficult as most internal threat actors have privileged access to a network, allowing them to bypass any security measures put in place. While some internal actors intend to do harm, there are also cases where an employee may be unaware that their actions are putting a network at risk. Employee training is key to preventing insider threats and should be administered during the onboarding process.

How to maintain effective cybersecurity

While maintaining cybersecurity across an organization can be difficult, there are several steps you can take to lessen the burden placed on security teams. Adopting a threat intelligence plan to utilize in tandem with your cybersecurity programs equips IT teams with essential context on emerging threats and vulnerabilities ensuring that they can protect against them. Automated cybersecurity tools are another way your organization can maintain effective cybersecurity. These tools scan your network in real-time and flag any suspicious activity allowing security teams to focus their efforts on higher-level threats.

For organizations that work with third-parties to maintain effective cybersecurity, they must constantly evaluate the strength of their vendor’s cybersecurity framework. This can be done by conducting a third-party risk assessment which helps organizations determine the cybersecurity risk they incur when partnering with certain vendors. This will improve your organization’s cybersecurity posture and allow you to protect against future attacks.

How SecurityScorecard can help

The complex nature of cybersecurity makes it challenging for businesses to ensure that the systems they put in place are actively improving their cyber health. This is especially true for businesses who work with third-party vendors as it can be difficult to gain visibility into their individual cybersecurity ecosystems.

SecurityScorecard’s Security Ratings work to address these issues by providing organizations with a centralized platform on which they can continuously monitor their cybersecurity programs. Our letter grade system allows businesses to instantly evaluate their cybersecurity performance across ten groups of risk factors. This gives you the ability to easily identify any address any vulnerabilities within your systems. Additionally, you can also view individual vendor scorecards to identify any cybersecurity issues your third-party partners may have.

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