What is Cybersecurity?

And how does it work?


April 1, 2021

What Is Cybersecurity Desktop

When you think about your home security, you probably focus on your alarm system, cameras, motion sensors, and locks. Security doesn’t just extend to the contents of your home and property, though.

How are you protecting your digital data — from all those family photos that reside on your laptop or iPhone to valuable passwords for your credit cards, banking services, and medical information?

Cybersecurity is a way to ensure you keep your digital identity safe. Much like you’d secure your home, cyber protection can help protect all the sensitive, valuable data stored online and on your mobile phones, tablets, and computers.

Cybersecurity basics

The definition of digital security is software and protections that safeguard your digital footprint. Cybersecurity protection can guard your mobile devices, computers, networks, and programs against digital attacks.

Even if your personal computer has never been compromised, chances are you’ve been alerted at least once of a credit card breach from your health care provider or big-box retailer. This security violation is an example of a larger-scale, more sophisticated cyber attack, but these digital attacks happen frequently on small scales, too, as cyber criminals become more innovative.

The importance of cybersecurity

The cyber criminal who accesses an entire roster of credit cards, Social Security numbers, and sensitive medical information can use that data for many types of cyber threats like extortion and identity theft.

On a more personal level, criminals can target your devices and wipe out or encrypt personal data, like those family photos stored on your computer’s hard drive. Malicious programs like ransomware effectively hold your photos or information hostage unless you pay a sum of money to the cyber criminal.

That’s why cybersecurity protection and IT security are critical both on a personal level and at a more institutional level, like hospitals, government entities, and financial systems.

Main types of cyber threats

Here are a few common cybersecurity threats to both businesses and individuals:


This can infect your computer or other device with a virus or spyware. Different types of malware can log your keystrokes — accessing passwords and PIN numbers to your various accounts. A Trojan, or Trojan horse, can effectively take control of your computer to damage your technology and steal information.


Those legitimate-looking emails from the government, your bank, or a mortgage company may try to trick you into handing over financial information. Phishing doesn’t stop at emails, either. Phone calls and texts about extending your car’s warranty, Social Security breaches, or password changes to your bank account are all sophisticated phishing scams.


As mentioned above, ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your data so you can’t access it until you pay a ransom. Paying money to the hacker, however, doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your files back. For more information, including best practices to protect yourself against ransomware, visit the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s website.

Social engineering

This form of cyber piracy usually goes hand in hand with phishing, ransomware, and malware. A cyber criminal attempts to gain your trust to gain access to your confidential information. For instance, a scammer may call you pretending to be a bank employee who needs to confirm your account. Once you give them your account information and your Social Security number, they may follow up with an email asking for more information from you and inviting you to click a link that effectively installs malware on your system.

Computer cybersecurity protection

Fortunately, there are many types of cybersecurity to protect you from imminent threats. Cloud-based applications can safely store your data, anti-virus and anti-malware solutions mitigate threats, and data loss prevention software ensures you keep your information secure.

Aside from installing the right cybersecurity software on all your devices, never give sensitive information over the phone or text. If you get an email that asks for sensitive information, forward it to the organization to verify whether it’s real or a phishing attempt.

Learn more about digital safety and home security via the Brinks Home™ Smart Center.

Allison Clark is a senior writer for Brinks Home. She enjoys educating others on the benefits of smart home security and using technology to simplify everyday life.

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