What exactly is Cyberspace and Cybersecurity?

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There has been a lot of buzz around the web in recent years regarding information assurance and cybersecurity especially with an increasing trend in cyber attacks and intrusions.  UMUC just recently started several cybersecurity degree and certificate programs in the fall of 2010.  Over the next few weeks articles will be posted here related to cybersecurity, starting with answering the basic question of what the terms cyberspace and cybersecurity mean.

The term cyberspace was originally used by the science fiction author, William Gibson to describe his interpretation of a global network of computers.  Wired magazine described Gibson’s fictional networked artificial environment as anticipating the “globally internetworked technoculture in which we now find ourselves.”  Cyberspace is the non-physical domain of information flow and communication between computer systems and networks.  Any device connected to the Internet has direct access to cyberspace which can be used for everyday tasks such as sending and receiving e-mail and making purchases online as well as managing personal bank accounts and paying bills.  In the commercial world, cyberspace is a place where global video conferencing takes place, collaborative projects occur where many of the key members may be in different geographical locations and other online tools and information systems, which hold massive amounts of information, are accessed daily from different parts of the world.

The process of securing information or assets that are contained in cyberspace is known as cybersecurity.  This is especially important in the business world where information assets are kept on ever increasing complex information systems, which in turn require even more sophisticated defense methods.  According to Vacca’s Computer and Information Security Handbook, “Most people are unfamiliar with the way computers truly function and what goes on ‘behind the scenes.’”  It is up to the CEO of modern organizations to ensure they have the most efficient task force of security specialists lead by a well qualified Chief Information Officer (CIO).  This task force should be responsible in providing a better defense against the modern infestations of intellectual theft, phishing scams, deliberate destruction of data and other cyber crimes.  Some of the modern challenges a CIO faces include managing employee awareness of threats, developing an effective cybersecurity program in line with the organization’s mission, managing risks and ensuring resilience in the organizations information systems.  Cybersecurity is going to continue to grow as organizations invest in protecting their information infrastructure against the ever increasing threat of cyber crime.

Image Credits: Photo by Isis França on Unsplash.

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