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Understanding the Basics of Cyber Security and the Various Digital Threats

finn pierson
Understanding the Basics of Cyber Security and the Various Digital Threats

Cyberattacks have been in the news for almost as long as home computers existed. We can even see them dating back to points in time when these threats were of only minimal relevance to the average person. People were often concerned over the issue even before they actually had a computer within their own home. But we can see threat versus reality by looking at the oldest computers. This will, in turn, also point at the best ways to protect one's system in the current day.

Creeper and creeping threats

Cyberthreats are usually veiled in darkness. But we do in fact know the very first computer virus. It was named Creeper by its developer, Bob Thomas. Creeper's very first target was the ARPANET computer network. Many people might recognize it as the direct predecessor of today's Internet.

Creeper was a benign entity, at least as far as a computer virus can be benign. All creeper was able to do was display a message before moving on to the next terminal or computer. However, this proof of concept would help guide later malicious attacks. And it's also here that we see the real start of the threat of computer virus based attacks.

Much of it comes down to networking

This points to a solid answer to a very important question. We should be asking, what is a cyber attack? The earlier discussion of networking and ARPANET might have seemed like a history lesson at first. But it brings up an important point. The earliest computer attacks happened against networked devices. There were plenty of offline computers at the time. The Altair, in particular, would rise to prominence in roughly the same period. But it was the much more powerful and complex university mainframes which were attacked. And the reasoning might seem odd at first if we didn't consider the networking aspects.

But what we see is that the existence of networking is the most important point in attacking computers. Networking is an important point of cyberattacks because it functions as the medium within which a virus or other threat travels. We can think of networks as similar to airflow in the transmission of a virus which attacks humans.

Remembering airplanes

Common wisdom holds that flying in an airplane is a good way to catch a cold. This is because an airplane essentially recycles air. Any viral threat breathed out by an infected person will have access to a huge amount of people. This is somewhat similar to how the Internet works. It's a system of electronic life which goes directly from computer to computer. As such, nearby infections have a very good chance of getting to the rest of the network.

The full ecosystem

It's also important to remember that just as humans have to contend against multiple invaders so will computers. We face bacterial, parasitic and viral threats. Computers face up against the viral threats we've already discussed. But they also have to contend with worms and malware.

Defending a computer in light of these threats

In the end it might seem almost impossible to properly guard against all these threats. But it's better to instead think of defence as a team effort. In the real world one isn't just doding every person who sneezes. Doctors play an important part in keeping our health up.

Likewise computer defences like GigaSECURE can help guard our computers and the networks they're connected to. This is the computer version of having a doctor on call to take care of problems. But at the same time also having him working every minute to stay on guard to keep computers from getting sick in the first place.

Security in the modern world

The world of cyber attacks can seem scary at first. But it's important to keep in mind that online security is constantly improving just as the threats are. There's far too much for one person to keep up with. But the beauty of the modern world is that one doesn't need to tackle it on one's own. Instead it's more a matter of knowing when to delegate defences to the most powerful and educated experts.

finn pierson
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