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What is Cybersecurity? Everything You Need to Know

Cybersecurity consists of technologies, processes, and controls designed to protect systems, networks, and data from cyber attacks. Effective cybersecurity reduces the risk of cyber attacks and protects against the unauthorized exploitation of systems, networks, and technologies.

Cybersecurity definition

Cybersecurity and information security are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same.

Cybersecurity focuses on protecting computer systems from unauthorized access, damage, or events that would make them inaccessible.

Information security is a broader category that looks to protect all information assets, irrespective of their format.

Robust cybersecurity involves implementing controls based on three pillars: people, processes, and technology. This three-pronged approach helps organizations defend themselves from both organized external attacks and internal threats, such as deliberate misuse or human error.

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Free PDF download: Cybersecurity 101 – A guide for SMBs

Cybersecurity requires careful coordination of people, processes, and technology. Many small and medium-sized businesses don’t know where to start and lack the expertise and resources to cost-effectively secure their systems.

Download “Cybersecurity 101 – A guide for SMBs” to find out how to get started with the basics of cybersecurity while keeping costs to a minimum.

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The three pillars of cybersecurity

Robust cybersecurity addresses people, processes, and technology.



It is important that all staff are informed about how to identify and avoid common cyber threats, and for those responsible for the technical aspects of cybersecurity to keep up to date with the latest skills and qualifications.



Processes are crucial in defining how the organization’s activities, roles, and documentation are used to mitigate the risks to the organization’s information. Cyber threats change quickly, so processes need to be continually reviewed to ensure you stay ahead.



To mitigate cyber risks, you must first identify what risks your organization faces. From there, you can implement technological controls. Technology can be used to prevent or reduce the impact of cyber risks, depending on your risk assessment and the level of risk you consider acceptable.

Why is cybersecurity important?

  • The cost of cybersecurity breaches is rising

    Emerging privacy laws can mean significant fines for organizations. There are also non-financial costs to consider, like reputational damage.

  • Cyber attacks are increasingly sophisticated

    Cyber attacks continue to grow in sophistication. Attackers use an ever-expanding variety of tactics, including social engineering, malware, and ransomware.

    Find out more about the cybersecurity threats your organization faces >>

  • Cyber crime is big business

    Cybercrime is predicted to cost the world $7 trillion in 2022, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Attackers can also be driven by political, ethical, or social incentives.

  • Cybersecurity is a critical, board-level issue

    New regulations and reporting requirements make cybersecurity risk oversight a challenge. Boards will continue to seek assurances from management that their cyber risk strategies will reduce the risk of attacks and limit financial and operational impacts.

    Find out more about US and international cybersecurity standards and frameworks >>

Types of cybersecurity threats


Phishing is a method of social engineering used to trick people into divulging sensitive or confidential information, often via email. These scams are not always easy to distinguish from genuine messages, and can inflict enormous damage on organizations.

Train your staff how to spot and avoid phishing attacks

Social engineering

Social engineering is used to deceive and manipulate victims into providing information or access to their computer. This is achieved by tricking users into clicking malicious links or opening malicious files, or by the attacker physically gaining access to a computer through deception.


Malware is short for “malicious software.” It can take the form of viruses, worms, Trojans, and other types of malicious code. Malware can be used to steal personal information, destroy data, and take control of computers.

Ransomware attacks

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts victims’ information and demands payment in return for the decryption key. Paying a ransom does not necessarily guarantee that you will be able to recover the encrypted data.

Cybersecurity domains

Critical infrastructure security

Critical infrastructure security is the protection of systems and assets that are essential to the functioning of a society. Critical infrastructure organizations are required to comply with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, which outlines the requirements for managing organizational risk.

Network security

Network security is the process of protecting the usability and integrity of your network and data. This is achieved by conducting a network penetration test, which scans your network for vulnerabilities and security issues.

Application security

Web application vulnerabilities are a common point of intrusion for cyber criminals. As applications play an increasingly critical role in business, it is vital that your web applications remain secure.

Cloud security

Cloud security is the process of ensuring that data and applications stored in the Cloud are protected from unauthorized access or theft. Cloud systems are subject to a different set of cyber risks compared to traditional systems, and so require a different control approach.

Information security

Information is at the heart of any organization, whether in business records, personal data, or intellectual property. It all needs to be kept safe, and the process of doing that is called information security. ISO/IEC 27001:2013 (ISO 27001) is an international standard that helps organizations manage the security of their information assets.

Start your journey to being cyber secure today

IT Governance has a wealth of security experience. For more than 20 years, we’ve helped hundreds of organizations with our deep industry expertise and pragmatic approach.

All our consultants are qualified and experienced practitioners, and our services can be tailored for organizations of all sizes.

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