10 Cybersecurity Tips for Beginners
It is increasingly clear that there’s no excuse to avoid learning about cybersecurity, even for beginners. Cybersecurity is of crucial concern to all business, and even to all individuals in our connected world. The total number of records exposed by data breaches in the first half of 2019 alone exceeded 4 billion,1 and cyber threats continue to multiply and evolve every day.
If you’re completely new to this important subject, consult the following list of 10 cybersecurity tips for beginners. It’s absolutely possible to build cybersecurity experience and expertise from the ground up, and doing so can only help position you to advance in your career.
Start With the Basics
It’s a good idea for beginners to approach a topic as complex as cybersecurity on a fairly broad level at first. You may be surprised at the vast terrain cybersecurity covers, the array of devices you need to consider as potentially vulnerable and the diverse array of attacks you or your organization might face. Don’t get overwhelmed; start by learning the basic categories of cyber attack, what kinds of connected devices might be vulnerable and what assets are typically targeted.
1. Assess Your Current Status
Once you have a solid understanding of the types of cyber attacks you may face and the landscape of potential vulnerabilities, it’s time to assess what this means for your organization. Take a moment to audit your organization and ask: What security measures are currently in place on your network? Do employees connect personal smartphones or tablets to the company’s network, and if so, have they been trained in security best practices for their own devices? What, if any, internet of things (IoT) devices are present? As you work through this process, it’s natural to feel increasingly confident in your knowledge of the field while also wondering just how much you still have left to learn.
2. Data Theft Through Vehicle Hacking and the Internet of Things
We share a great deal with the AI interfaces that "live" in our homes and pockets. It's incredibly handy to ask Siri to schedule appointments and give her the exact details, provide credit card information on your phone, ask Alexa to purchase things for us, or to have a Nest thermometer learn your schedule and adjust automatically. However, most of the home networks supporting these devices lack high-level cybersecurity or the appliances themselves don't possess two-factor authentication capabilities. They can access personal information such as schedules, addresses, credit card information, travel plan, email accounts or cloud services where this type of information is stored. Harvesting and reselling this data en masse on the black market is highly profitable for cybercriminals.
We are swiftly approaching the era of self-driving cars, which should be an exciting thing. The Hyundai Sonata, for example, has "Smart Park" allowing the car to park and unpark itself without even having a driver in the car. But an astonishing amount of data is stored in our cars nowadays. With GPS devices, sensors to alert if a vehicle is in your blind spot, rear cameras for parking, and in-car communication and entertainment platforms, cars are becoming a lucrative mark for hackers and data thieves. In the same way that criminals have learned to hack into private networks through smart devices, cars are likely to become the next choice thanks to the increasing amount of information they collect and store. Another genuine but slightly distant danger is the ability to hack into a car's controls. Hijacking an autonomous car and overtaking the digital controls and safety features is a looming threat automakers and lawmakers will both need to take seriously and address.
3. Consider Learning From an Expert
The best way to hit the ground running is through targeted cybersecurity education, ideally led by a real subject matter expert. Companies like EmergingEd offer expert-led cybersecurity training for beginners, aimed at professionals who understand the vital importance of the field but who have never had a formal education in it.
Take a look at Cybersecurity Foundations and Frameworks from EmergingEd if you’re interested in a flexible, 100 percent online course. Taught by industry veteran Jeffrey Groman, CISSP, this eight-week course covers the current threat landscape, basic security measures and countermeasures, legal and compliance aspects of cybersecurity, and more.
4. Don’t Overextend Yourself
Cybersecurity is a fascinating, dynamic topic with countless rabbit holes of complex information down which you can tumble if you get carried away. As you begin to learn the in’s and out’s of cybersecurity, it is important to pace yourself. If you try to immerse yourself too deeply in overly technical subject matter right away, you could become overwhelmed. Take a measured approach to ensure you don’t get discouraged and see your development derailed.
5. Find a Mentor
As your knowledge of cybersecurity grows, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a colleague to vet your ideas and strategies. If someone in your organization has a level of experience with cybersecurity, ask if they are willing to serve as a sounding board for any new measures or initiatives you would like to implement. Having someone you trust monitor your progress and critique your ideas is a great way to learn and practice simultaneously.
6. Involve Your Team
Cybersecurity isn’t a subject you can master on your own, and successfully implementing new cybersecurity processes is definitely a team effort. If you work on or manage a team of professionals with little or no cybersecurity experience, consider enrolling in a training course together, or at least scheduling regular meetings to share new ideas with one another. Improved cybersecurity measures will only work if everyone has the knowledge and desire to fully buy into them productively.
7. Participate in Online Forums
Cybersecurity is inseparable from the internet, so it should come as no surprise that there are myriad places online where cybersecurity topics are discussed. Online cybersecurity forums range from message boards hosted by leading companies in the field to something like the r/cybersecurity subreddit, which balances playful meme culture against real substantive questions and answers from experts and aficionados. Join one of these communities and see how helpful and engaging their ongoing discussions can be.
8. Keep up With Current Events
Cybersecurity changes every day. With this in mind, keep up to date on any news regarding notable breaches, newly discovered software vulnerabilities and any patches issued to fix them, emerging phishing schemes, new worms or viruses, and anything else related to cybersecurity. The best weapon against cyber attacks is information, and staying abreast of the most current information is a powerful strategy that is absolutely within your reach.
9. Learn From Your Mistakes
If the worst case should happen—if your company suffers a cyber attack or breach—it is crucial to view the event not as a disaster but as an opportunity to improve your cybersecurity measures. Once the immediate fallout has been handled, get together with your team and any cybersecurity personnel in your organization to discuss what happened, why it happened and what can be done to prevent it from recurring in the future. If you intend to grow from a cybersecurity beginner into a savvy leader, experiences like these are key to developing a calm crisis management approach.
10. Never Stop Learning
Because cyber threats and their countermeasures are always evolving, there is no end to what you can learn within this field. Once you feel that you have mastered the basics of the field, start thinking about ways in which you would like to further integrate this knowledge into your decision-making and leadership. Consider taking a course on cybersecurity management strategies, or perhaps one that allows you to work through the intricacies of actual attack response plans with real-world examples.
Explore Cybersecurity Courses for Beginners and Beyond at EmergingEd
EmergingEd offers a full suite of industry-approved cybersecurity courses for professionals with varying levels of knowledge of this complex subject. Check out upcoming start dates and topics for these 100 percent online, expert-led courses and start building your professional advantage today.
1. Retrieved on February 12, 2020, from varonis.com/blog/cybersecurity-statistics