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Cyber security – a quick guide

Quick guide

We set out some cyber security basics.

Who’s doing what?

Those involved in cyber crime have varying motivations:

  • criminals stealing valuable corporate data for insider dealing, black market sale or identity fraud.
  • states or state-sponsored persons accessing military secrets, committing commercial espionage and disrupting critical infrastructure and systems.
  • agenda-driven individuals and groups ('hacktivists') targeting companies to challenge their practices and damage their reputations.
  • competitors accessing commercial or technical secrets for competitive advantage.

What does a cyber security incident look like?

A ‘cyber security incident’ is a breach or disruption of an organisation’s computer systems or internet presence by an unauthorised third party, whether external or internal to the business.

Some examples:

  • A leak or theft of sensitive information, including personal data, by hackers, disgruntled employees or mischief makers.
  • Hacktivism – when an agenda-driven hacker seeks to damage the public's perception of an organisation.
  • Denial-of-service attack – bringing down online services or websites entirely, causing disruption to operations.
  • 'Phishing' - sending emails with: an attachment that, if opened, can harvest data; or with a link that, if clicked on, takes the user to a fake website set up to harvest data.

How does a cyber security incident arise?

A cyber security incident can arise:

  • by planting a virus on a third-party website or web-based application to access, control or disrupt an organisation’s website;
  • via a message or attachment that, when opened, infects the computer or network, causes system disruption or allows access to company information;
  • via an attack to overwhelm and compromise, degrade or destroy systems, networks or services;
  • when a virus on removable media, such as a USB stick, is introduced to a ‘safe’ location and breaches information security;
  • with an authorised user violating a company’s acceptable usage policies; and
  • when there is the loss or theft of a computing device, such as a laptop or mobile phone, which is later used to compromise security.