Cybersecurity has become more prevalent due to the increase and notoriety of large-scale data breaches. Even professional IT certification organizations are now offering courses, webinars, and certifications in cybersecurity. The loss, theft, and unauthorized access of data and internal networks has always been a problem for organizations, but as hackers become more sophisticated, preventing breaches has become paramount. Furthermore, as more of the world’s data has become digitalized and stored within networks, the ability to gain unauthorized access to personal or sensitive information has increased. Any individual or firm that connects to a network, whether that network is part of the Internet cloud or a self-contained internal network, is vulnerable to such attacks.
Protecting and securing networks – and the information stored within them – has been part of an IT professional’s job since inception. Recently the number of firms concentrating on securing networks, network data, and researching ways to develop new security solutions, has grown. One of the popular ways to secure data – whether it be on a network or an individual computer – is encryption. Essentially encryption involves a combination of masking the data during network transmission and password protecting the data itself. For example, encrypted college files on a computer can only be accessed by those who know the password to unlock the data within those files. A virtual private network is another example of the use of encryption.
When a virtual private network or VPN is used, an individual can connect to a private or company network from an outside public network. The VPN connection’s software encrypts the data as if the individual is not using a public network. Instead, the public network connection essentially becomes identical to the private or company network. It is as if the individual’s machine is connecting to the private network directly. One of the ways that VPN software accomplishes this is by masking the public network IP address.
Cybersecurity of course involves more than encryption, as it is a 24/7 job. Real-time monitoring of network activity and file access is crucial to preventing intrusions. Creating backups of data and storing those backups on off-site server equipment is additional method of protection. As hackers and those who wish to do harm continue to become more sophisticated, so must the software programs, methods, and procedures cybersecurity specialists create.