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Cybersecurity: everything you need to know

What is keeping your digital life safe? Find out how cybersecurity works.

NordVPN cybersecurity
The Huffington Post
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What is cybersecurity?

So what is the definition of cybersecurity? Cybersecurity keeps systems, networks, and devices safe from malicious tampering. It's a broad term that involves all digital protection — from network security to web security. Its examples could be the defense systems that keep your social media logins protected and your digital medical records private.

Cybersecurity shield

Why cybersecurity is important

Most systems that manage services we use day-to-day have moved online. From financial organizations and medical care to electrical grids that power whole cities — these systems rely on digital technology. Cyber protection is what keeps them functioning as they should — it's the defensive wall that keeps cyber attacks at bay.

Without adequate IT security, your banking information, private messages, or online activities would be out in the open for anyone to see (this is where a VPN can help). Cyber attacks could cripple hospitals, banks, transportation, communication, and various utility organizations.

Cybersecurity and cybercrime

What is a cyber attack? It’s an intentional attack against a computer, network, or other digital infrastructure. Cyber attacks can have various motives, ranging from political to financial.



Malware is any malicious software that takes advantage of the user. It can range from programs that flood your device with ads to keyloggers that record every stroke of your keyboard.



During a cyber attack, ransomware infects a device encrypting all its data. If the attack victim wants to access the data on their device again, they have to pay a ransom.

Social engineering

Social engineering

Social engineering is a set of techniques that manipulate the victim into doing something that the hacker wants. It's an umbrella term that includes phishing, vishing, catfishing, pretexting, and more.

DDoS attack

Distributed denial of service

In DDoS attacks, a network of infected computers overwhelms their target with enormous amounts of traffic. It can slow websites to the point where it's impossible to use or take them down for some time.

Man-in-the-middle attacks

Man-in-the-middle attacks

In MITM attacks, the criminals intercept user's device communications to observe, manipulate, and steal the victim's data traffic.

SQL injection

SQL injection

Hackers work malicious code lines into database management systems to trick websites into revealing all sensitive information they contain.

Cross-site scripting protection

Cross-site scripting

Criminals insert a malicious script into a regular website. The software can then record your sensitive information like what you type into login fields when accessing your online bank account.

Dictionary attack

Dictionary attack

In a dictionary attack, a hacker uses a predefined list of words and phrases to guess your password. Most attacks utilize password-cracking software that can take millions of guesses from a list of most common passwords.

Credential stuffing

Credential stuffing

Hackers use login information obtained through social engineering or from leaked databases to crack every account you have. For example, if a criminal gets their hands on your email password, they'll try to access your other accounts using the same credentials.

Check out our glossary for more cybersecurity terms

Find definitions, examples, and prevention methods for all things cybersecurity.

How to improve your cyber protection

Laptop cybersecurity

Use a VPN

VPNs encrypt your data traffic and change your IP address, ensuring your privacy and security online.

Avoid Wi-Fi hotspots

Criminals on public Wi-Fi can easily snoop on your data. If you ever connect to a hotspot in a cafe or airport, be sure to use a VPN.

Use strong passwords

Your pet's name or mom's birthday doesn't cut it anymore — use long passwords that contain numbers, letters, and special characters.

Don't click on unknown links

Avoid opening attachments from unknown sources, and even if you know the sender, double-check if it's really them.

Digital protection

Keep everything up to date

Software updates often have patches for security vulnerabilities that criminals could exploit otherwise.

Back up your data

Make sure all your files aren’t lost — back it up. If you come under a cyber attack that threatens to delete your data, a backup will come in handy.


It scans and helps remove malicious software from your devices.

How does Nord Security help?


NordVPN ensures your privacy and security on all of your devices. It encrypts your data traffic with next-generation encryption so no one can eavesdrop on your online activities.


The NordPass password manager enables you to store and organize your logins securely. Create robust passwords and never worry about forgetting them again.


NordLocker's file encryption tool lets you backup your data on a private cloud so that no one can access your files without your permission.


NordLayer is an adaptive network access security solution for modern businesses — from the world’s most trusted cybersecurity brand, Nord Security.

Improve your cybersecurity with NordVPN

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Frequently asked questions