What Is Internet Security?
Internet Security: Definition and Meaning
Internet security refers to security designed to protect systems and the activities of employees and other users while connected to the internet. While much of internet security crosses paths with general cybersecurity, internet security tends to focus on securing browsers, networks, and users while they are online.
Some internet security concerns can directly impact the steps you take to protect important network components, such as servers, computers, and other endpoints. This highlights one of the primary advantages of internet security—by keeping interactions with the World Wide Web (WWW) safe, you also protect your organization’s network.
Why Is Internet Security Vital in Today's World?
The internet has changed communications for the better, but alongside the benefits come new risks. You leave your organization vulnerable to theft, fraud, and even the destruction of digital assets if it is not adequately protected from threats on the internet.
Here are some specific reasons why every organization needs internet security:
Confidentiality and Privacy
Private or confidential information can be read, intercepted, and stolen if security precautions are not in place. Attacks can range from relatively inconsequential, such as spam, to detrimental, such as identity theft or other types of fraud. Governments and businesses that keep private records of their clients or workers face the most risk.
In the information era, people purchase, trade, and exchange information online, and identity theft is a common problem. If security is insufficient, online transactions can result in thieves obtaining employees’ credit card information, personal information, and even social security numbers. Criminals can use this information to apply for government benefits, make fake charges and purchases, and take out loans. While most issues can be resolved, repairing the harm caused by identity theft can consume significant time, money, and effort.
Strong internet security can also protect your laptops, desktops, and other devices from harm. Some cyber criminals are more concerned about fomenting chaos than stealing data. Many computer users end up dealing with viruses, Trojans, and other forms of malware, which can sometimes steal data or leave their machines unusable. Furthermore, these assaults can interfere with important communications and services, particularly when the targets are governmental systems.
What Are the 5 Common Internet Security Problems?
The five most common examples of internet security issues are malware, phishing, botnets, spam, and data loss.
Malware combines the words "malicious" and "software" and is a general term that refers to worms, viruses, Trojans, and other dangerous software that cyber criminals use to cause havoc and steal private data. Malware is any software created to harm a computer, server, or network.
Phishing is a cyberattack that uses phony emails. Hackers attempt to dupe email recipients into thinking that an attachment or link in the message is legitimate and important, such as a request from their bank or a note from a coworker. The intention is to trick individuals into providing personal information or downloading malicious software.
The term “botnet” comes from the word "robot network.” A botnet is a network of computers that have been purposefully infected with malware to help a cyber criminal automate certain actions without the consent or knowledge of the computer’s owner.
The same methods for infecting computers with malware—such as opening email attachments that download malware or visiting malicious websites—are typically used to infect computers with botnets. Botnets can also propagate over a network, moving from one computer to another and using these computers' computational power to execute attacks.
Spam is a general term connoting any unwanted mail. Some spam may seem innocent, irritating at worst. But spam messages often contain malware, which can be used to infect computers, damage networks, and launch ransomware attacks.
Spam can also present significant problems for employees within your organization, specifically because it can clog up their email inboxes with useless, space-consuming messages. Then they have to waste time deleting hundreds or even thousands of junk emails.
5. Data Loss
Organizations can lose data via various means. For example, a thief can steal it or a hacker can damage a server or hard drive containing sensitive or important information.
So if a computer network is infected with ransomware, for example, completely wiping one or more computers to regain control over your assets may be necessary. If the data has no backup or if the latest backup is weeks or months old, serious operational interruptions can ensue.
Components of Internet Security
You can protect your organization against internet threats by combining email security, firewalls, multi-factor authentication (MFA), browser selection, URL filtering, and data loss prevention (DLP).
1. Email Security
The term "email security" refers to various processes and strategies for defending email accounts, information, and communications from unwanted access, theft, or compromise. Phishing, spam, and other types of attacks are frequently disseminated through email, and email security prevents these kinds of attacks.
Firewalls filter traffic coming in and going out of your network. To do this, they inspect data packets, looking for information about where the data is coming from and what it contains. If the firewall detects a threat, the data packet is discarded.
3. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) involves using multiple types of identification to verify the legitimacy of someone trying to log in to a system. MFA frequently includes information the person knows (password or PIN code), something the person has (flash drive or physical token), and a physical attribute of the individual (fingerprint or face scan).
4. Browser Selection
Not all browsers are created equally, and some do a better job of protecting against threats than others. For example, safe browsers clear out cookies after you visit websites so a hacker that steals your device cannot automatically log in to your bank or tax preparation websites. Safe browsers also use SSL certificates to secure connections between users and the sites they visit.
5. URL Filtering
With URL filtering, a business can prevent employees from viewing particular websites on machines owned by the organization. URL filtering, a kind of web filtering, prohibits access to harmful websites, sites with offensive or illegal content, and websites that can reduce employee productivity.
6. Data Loss Prevention
Employees may unintentionally—or willfully—leak company information via email by visiting malicious websites or by using insecure cloud storage. Security software should scan internet traffic for sensitive and protected data to stop it from being stolen or leaked to unauthorized parties.