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Cybersecurity is the set of policies and practices that protect computers, networks, software, data and information systems from unauthorized access. This includes viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, malware, eavesdropping attacks, denial of service attacks and the growing list of sophisticated threats from criminal hackers acting as individuals or as part of organized crime or foreign governments.

The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving and becoming more complex. Organizations must invest in a combination of technology, policies and procedures to stay ahead of the curve. This must include protecting endpoint devices like desktops, laptops and mobile devices; networks; and cloud-based applications, as well as developing strong authentication processes to prevent unauthorized access to those systems.

One of the most effective tools in the cybersecurity toolbox is encryption, which protects data at rest or in transit by scrambling it into an unreadable format that only authorized parties can decode. Other security technologies include firewalls, anti-malware programs and robust data backups. It’s also important to regularly update software, as attackers exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated systems.

Attackers can be motivated by a wide range of factors, from thrill-seeking to financial gain. They can be individuals, organized crime or even state actors, and their activities can vary from phishing emails to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Because attackers often use proxies, temporary anonymous dial-up accounts and wireless connections to hide their location, it’s challenging for law enforcement to track them down. They can also delete logs to cover their tracks.