What is cyber security?

What is cyber security?

Cyber security is intended to restrict hackers from stealing, changing, accessing, or destroying sensitive data and, in our modern world, everyday devices need better safeguarding against cyber attacks. 

Whether it’s IT systems, processes, networks, or devices themselves – understanding the pillars of cyber security and defining the safeguarding measures continues to be the main challenge for many businesses. 

What are the key pillars of cyber security? 

There are three pillars of cyber security and it’s a good idea to use them as a skeleton to create your own cyber security strategy, roadmap, and plan.


1. People

Throughout the business, everyone needs to understand what they can do to prevent a breach and the mistakes that lead to a breach. 

Executives need to understand how the decisions they make before, during, and after a breach can have a knock-on effect on the business. Their decisions could dictate how successful the prevention, mitigation, and response to a cyber threat is in the future.  

For other employees, following a policy, using devices safely, and handling data correctly means cyber security becomes part of their day-to-day routine. 

Once you have developed a deep cultural understanding of how cyber security works, hackers will find it more difficult to time-crack your data. 

2. Processes

Processes soon become second nature, and familiarity with cyber security procedures can mean the difference between a major and minor incident. If your team knows exactly where to report a phishing attempt or an account breach, your response team has the time to react and contain. 

The IT department should also audit and regularly test the vulnerability of the network and hardware. They’re more likely to spot suspicious activity – and stop it – before a cyber criminal can exploit any vulnerabilities.

3. Technology

It’s important to have technology that can support everyone in preventing cyber crime. But having security experts, in-house or outsourced, is key to cyber security. They can maintain your protected networks and systems, track, and quarantine threats as they appear, and monitor data for unauthorised manipulation. 

Your strategy should include cyber security solutions that can build in multiple layers of protection. It should be failsafe and alert users to potential attacks, slow any successful breaches, and keep you in the know so you have the right data to tackle the problem.

Technology is getting smarter every day. But so are hacking methods. Establishing a robust framework and strategy for protecting your data and IT assets has never been more important.
Yasemin MustafaSenior Manager, Enterprise Security

Why is cyber security important? 

Cyber crime costs businesses in the UK tens of millions of pounds each year and affects small and large businesses. In 2021, 39% of UK companies surveyed by the government in the Cyber Security Breaches Survey reported at least one attempt to hack their systems – with the average annual cost of lost data or assets at £8,460. 

Technology, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), is getting smarter, but so are hacking methods. Establishing a robust framework and strategy for protecting your data and IT assets is even more important. A public data breach could put your company’s reputation at risk, so it’s time to get your cyber security plan right.

Types of cyber security threats

There are several cyber security threats that could impact your business and working environment and they go far beyond your laptop. We’ve outlined some of the types of cyber security threats that you could be subject to.

Malicious software (Malware)

Malicious software or malware is installed inadvertently, usually by visiting a malware-infected (but otherwise genuine) website, or by opening an attachment from a phishing email. Common types of malware are viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware, which are normally sent as a file or a piece of software – and are harmful to a computer user.


Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their device, or the data that’s stored on it – usually by encryption. Ransomware attacks are a big problem for small businesses. The attacker will usually demand a ransom and give a deadline. Access to the data will then be restored once the payment is made. 

Phishing attempts

Phishing is a type of social engineering. Hackers often impersonate a person of influence in a company and then ask employees to give them sensitive information. Spear Phishing often uses more personal information gained from phishing to make an impersonator’s requests more believable.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

DDoS attacks are on the rise. They overwhelm servers, networks, devices, or applications with a flood of internet traffic, preventing legitimate customers and users from accessing online services and sites. Hackers are now increasingly using IoT devices, like security cameras, webcams, and printers to launch DDoS attacks, because they often have weaker security.

Password attacks

Weak passwords are a common route for cyber security attacks. Password attacks occur when a hacker tries to steal a password. It’s important to use passwords that are hard to guess and never to write them down. 

Firmware attacks

Microsoft’s 2021 Security Signals report reveals that 83% of enterprises have experienced a firmware attack. These types of attacks target firmware (permanently installed software) in systems and devices, to allow hackers to bypass a mobile or computer’s operating system. Worryingly, they compromise devices before they’ve even had a chance to boot up.

Device loss or theft

While the freedom of working from anywhere on any device can boost productivity, it can also leave users more open to cyber attacks. If a device is left unlocked and unattended, a cyber criminal can take the opportunity to steal your data. 

Insider threats 

An insider threat is a security risk that comes from within an organisation, so they can be harder to detect. Insiders have legitimate access to systems and data, so it could be anyone – a current or former employee, a business associate who deliberately steals sensitive information for personal gain, or accidentally leaks information.

colleagues in a meeting discussing security

Building a strategy

A cyber security strategy is a plan that outlines how an organisation will protect its assets and respond to an attack. As both technology and cyber threats evolve, your strategy will have to adapt alongside developments. If you don’t yet have a cyber security strategy in place, follow the framework below.

Understand the cyber threat landscape

Identify the types of threats that your business is susceptible to as well as valuable assets that may be at risk. Carrying out a cyber security risk assessment will help to identify your most valuable assets and determine the security measures needed to protect them.

Protect your assets

The cyber security threats that you identify will determine the steps to take and solutions that need to be implemented to safeguard your assets.

Detect potential threats

Spotting cyber attacks early allows you to respond quickly and can help to mitigate their impact. Threat detection solutions monitor and identify potential threats so that you can act fast.

Respond to attacks

Once a threat has been detected, there needs to be a response prepared for how your organisation will react to it. The response should be tailored based on numerous factors, including how critical the asset is, the behaviour that has been detected, and the type of attack that has been carried out.

Recover from a breach

If a breach occurs it’s important to recover from the incident and put in place processes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This could include assessing the impact of the attack, and its source, and strengthening your cyber security infrastructure.

two colleagues discussing work on a laptop

Find the best cyber security solution for your business

Cyber attacks on businesses are increasing, and whether you’re a sole trader working at home, a medium-sized business with your own offices, or a large corporation – attackers don’t discriminate.

At BT we can help you to grow your business, without giving hackers an open door. We’ll help you make cyber security a priority and give you the tools to start your secure digital journey.