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What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is an area that’s seen rapid growth in recent years as technological developments continue to stretch the defence barriers of companies and governments alike in all directions. Is it The Matrix gone mad?

We’re not fighting the machines just yet. Right now, it’s the people behind them that an elite bunch of digital whizz kids are combatting. More and more companies and professional services firms are on the lookout for the highest calibre technology experts to join their digital forensics and forensic technology solutions teams.

Who are the cyber criminals?

Hackers (often referred to in the business as ‘hacktivists’) and cyber criminals are highly intelligent with serious abilities and knowledge of computers and all things digital. Some belong to the more conventional idea of criminals as part of a criminal gang. But it’s a much bigger picture than this.

Some hackers are can seem like the average Joe Bloggs, and there’s an increasing amount of young people who have taken their interests in how computers and software works to criminal levels…So these elite technology professionals could even be working on defending from attacks from a teenage hacker, working from their room at home. Companies and governments also face threats from insiders and the risk that they will leak information.

What’s more, there are also state-sponsored attacks to consider. Some risks stem from a state sponsoring hackers to carry out economical or politically instigated attacks on foreign companies for example in order to benefit their state-run companies in the markets. It’s a contentiously debated issue, but a very real threat to companies and governments worldwide.

What are they trying to do?

There are a number of things that these hackers could be aiming to achieve. Typically, spying is one of the primary things on the agenda. They may want access to companies’ private data to see if there’s anything they can dig up which could damage reputations, or perhaps give them an edge.

Hackers will also attempt to break down security systems to steal money, and/or tamper with the control of a company’s assets. They may even attempt eliminate certain data completely, which could have disastrous consequences.

If hackers are successful in their aims, the effect on a company or government and the potential domino effect of economic, societal or political implications could be extremely damaging.

What do digital forensics teams do?

A lot of the cases digital forensics teams work on is top-secret stuff! They consist of experts in computer code who are able to dig out weaknesses in a company’s systems to highlight areas for improvement and identify and dissect viruses and so-called ‘Malware’ (‘Malicious’ software that forms a chuck of a hacker’s weaponry). The kinds of things these digital forensic investigators can learn from their analysis of code can help to track and pinpoint the hackers.

Consultants will work closely alongside these experts to provide regular updates and advice based on findings to the top dog executives in their own company, and to clients if they work for a professional services firm. It’s their job to make everything clear and understandable.

Alongside these guys there will be a legal team who are hot on knowledge of rapidly developing legislation regarding technology and cross border issues. They are on hand to provide legal advice when necessary.

There are also a group of analysts in a digital forensics team who will analyse operational risks and how an attack could relate to political motives. They may focus on elements such as insider threat – the risks that people who work for a company could leak information which could have a hugely damaging impact.

As technology keeps changing, there will constantly be new challenges and codes to break for cyber sleuths. If you live and breathe technology and have a natural high level of skill, you could be highly suited to a cyber security role.