Introduction to Cyber Security
What is cyber security? This introduction to cyber security offers a brief overview of an immense, sprawling subject. Indeed, quite a few books have been written on this subject. It’s impossible to capture it all in a single web page. However, we thought it would be useful to provide a high-level introduction to this topic.
Cyber security is a field of endeavor that spans professions, technologies, processes, laws, law enforcement and national security. At its root, cyber security is about protecting digital assets from harm, theft or malicious, unauthorized use. A digital asset could be a database, a piece of technology like a computer or smartphone, a website, an e-commerce business and so forth.
An introduction to cyber security needs to reference its predecessor. The cyber security field is not new, though it used to be called by (and still is, to some extent) different names. It was known as “information security” (InfoSec). The legal side of it was known as “computer crimes.” The word “cyber” has come into nearly universal use today due to several major shifts that have occurred in the field.
Cyberspace, a concept popularized in science fiction, posits that we (the human users of technology) imagine the invisible, abstract “space” existing between us, our computers, and other computers and their users, as a physical place. It’s fake, but real. Got it? The cyber space has become real enough that it’s a very useful metaphor to describe criminal or malicious acts taking place between people and entities (e.g. governments, corporations) using computers.
We talk about cyber security because life in the modern world has become highly digital. As so many of our interactions and fundamental life processes rely on computers, then crime and malfeasance take place in cyberspace. Hackers are doing much more than affecting InfoSec. They’re affecting people’s lives, in some cases literally, through “cyber physical” acts like hacking connected cars and so forth.