Cybersecurity is a fast-growing industry, with new technologies and developments being made very frequent. Cybersecurity professionals need to maintain a substantial amount of technological knowledge and brush up their skills now and then to survive in this market.
In this article, we will look at the top 50 cybersecurity interview questions and answers that could come in handy for your career and interviews in general.
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Top 50 Most Important Cybersecurity Interview Questions
1. What is a Firewall? Explain its need in brief.
Firewalls are the defense system to any network that keeps your systems, devices, and other network touchpoints safe from any external threats like viruses, worms, trojans, DDoS attacks, Waterhole attacks and more. Firewalls are additionally used for filtering the communications that are happening between the internal and external touchpoints.
2. What are social engineering attacks?
When a cybercriminal manipulates their targets using normal communication medium like calls, texts, and emails to fetch the confidential information directly from the target without any technical expertise it is called as social engineering attacks. For example Tailgaiting, Spear Phishing, Pretexting, Baiting, Whaling attack, Waterhole attacks and more.
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3. What is the difference between penetrating testing and vulnerability management?
The organization that has set up an outstanding security procedure will hire penetration testers to check how secure and unbreakable is their network, this is called penetration testing. However, vulnerability management is the process of identifying vulnerabilities in the existing network using tools like patch management and endpoint security management and fix the same using them.
4. Who is a Cryptographer?
Any confidential data that is existing in the web has to be encrypted to keep it safe, but due to increased number of data breaches this is better if the same data is being converted into more convoluted using cryptography, a method of encrypting data in a unique way which only the receiver with the code can decrypt. The professional behind this cryptography process is called a cryptographer.
5. How will you secure a server?
- Checking servers for SSL protocol to encrypt and decrypt the sensitive data and secure it against anonymous access.
- Create new users using this server and making sure unwanted ports are blocked.
- Removing privileged access to the server data for users.
- Removing remote access to servers.
- Practicing VPN based access to servers.
- Configuring firewalls and proxy settings for secure communications.
6. What is data leakage?
Any intentional or unintentional leakage of data from the corporate database to external storage is called as data leakage. This leakage can be of one of three ways. Accidental breach Intentional breach using an insider threat Hacking attempt to break into the corporate network and steal the data.
7. Can You Name Eight Common cyberattacks?
- DDoS attacks
- Zero-day attacks
- Brute force attacks
- Man-in-the-middle attacks
8. What is a brute force attack?
The process of finding a credential to a website/target by generating the number of combination and permutations to identify the right password is called as the brute force attacks. The password breaking mechanism can be defined by password length, complexity, language, and customizing the algorithms for the combinations and permutations.
9. What are the OSI model and name their types?
OSI model is an inter-operative framework that developers would need to make their applications work along with the network. The types are:
- Application layer
- Presentation layer
- Network layer
- Transport layer
- Session layer
- Data link layer
- Physical layer
10. Name the difference between Black hat, Whitehat and Grey hat hackers.
Black hat hackers - These guys are the bad ones that operate individually or supported by an organization or states to breach into the corporate or public networks to fetch, encrypt or delete a data illegally. They have exorbitant skills of hacking and can even create a malware that can breach into networks easily in a short duration.
White hate hackers - These are the good guys, who are otherwise called Ethical hackers. They hack into organizations or cyber-criminal groups legally, they can also be used as the penetration testers for identifying the vulnerabilities and loopholes in an organization.
Grey hat hackers - These are the good guys but sometimes turn into black hat hackers based on their demand and objective. They mostly seek for a network or system vulnerabilities, identify them without owners permission but report it back to the owner for rewards than exploiting the same.
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11. How to set up a firewall?
Modify the credentials of a firewall device and disable the remote administration feature, configuring the ports and DHCP server, ensuring the logs are turned ON for analysis, and finally defining the security policies.
12. What is SSL encryption?
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a security layer that is usually deployed between a web server and a browser to keep the communication secured and safe from any external cyber actors. Useful for online transaction and for digital privacy.
An SSL connection can be established when a browser requests for an SSL with the web browsers and the webserver confirms the same with its SSL certificate showing it is trustworthy, and that's when the browsers initiate the communication after verifying the SSL certificate and believes the connection would be trustworthy.
13.Explain Port Scanning
Port scanning is the process of identifying the opened ports in a host. Hackers exploit these opened ports to breach into a network while security pros try to close the same for safety. There are different types of port scan techniques,
- Ping scan
- TCP connect
- Stealth scanning
- TCP half-open
14. What is VPN?
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a safe private network that would allow employees to connect to their original corporate network even when they are away from their corporate office.
The server believes the employee is accessing the network within the office only but actually he/she is not in that location physically.
VPNs are encrypted and is practiced to avoid data breaches via public networks in cafes, train stations, and airports. Users can view movies, series and other games that are from a different location by using a proxy or VPN.
There is the number of VPN services available on the web to escape the geographical limitations and march forward with your browsing objectives.
15. What is a DDoS attack?
When a huge amount of traffic is sent to a single device to crash the device's normal functioning it is called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. This is the basis behind the cyber fame Mirai Botnet, and the DDoS attacks are of two types, flooding, and crash attacks. The former we discussed, while in the case of latter the hacker just identifies a bug or more in the system and deploys the crash algorithms to crash the device.
16. What is a Botnet?
Botnet is a group of devices that could be laptops, desktops, IoT which is run by one or more bots for a certain purpose like crashing a targeted system, stealing data or spamming the targets through DDoS framework, malware or using scripts. Mirai Botnet is one good example to explore.
17. Explain about authentications in General
Authentications are procedures to verify the credential and the individuality of a user by validating the same using different means of identification. There are different types of authentication in the industry,
- Two factor authentication (2FA)
- Mult-factor authentication (MFA)
- Bio-metric authentication (BFA)
Two-factor authentication is something that includes usernames, password and a OTP (an example) for verification.
Mult-factor authentication may require you to type in the username, password, OTP and a secret phrase for verification.
Bio-metric authentication will include username, password and a biometric verification like retina, fingerprint and face scan.
18. Hacker was able to break into your network using a port and outdated software. What will you do to fix it?
Initially, we need to block the ports that are kept open, followed by that we can either remove that software if is not required or update the software to its secured version by deploying the patches to the devices that have the software.
19 What is an XSS attack?
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks are malicious scripts that run on a web page injected by hackers to hijack sessions, perform phishing, track cookies, remote code executions and more. XSS attacks can be prevented by validating user inputs, using XSS HTML filters, or by using anti-XSS tools.
20. What is Cyber Espionage?
Cyber espionage is the process of gaining access to sensitive business documents through malicious practices and using the same as an advantage against the company or government agency. Cyber espionage has become prevalent, thanks to the ransomware trends.
21. What is enterprise mobility management?
Organizations need to take care of the roaming devices that either belongs to them or the users, in other words, the BYOD, CYOD, and COPE. When employees are out of the corporate network so does their devices which includes smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Organizations need to manage these roaming devices and users to keep their business-sensitive data secured and safe from any public threats. Additionally, IT departments need to manage these devices from a single console for better efficiency.
22. How to secure the IoT devices from cyberattacks?
Users need to ensure they have a solid router, that does not compromise on network security. They also need to check for good firewalls and build an IoT customized Wi-Fi network with the right passwords and hosted as WAP2 or WAP3. Above all users need to make sure they have got their IoT devices updated and free from vulnerabilities. Patching the IoT devices can prevent any application-level breaches while the former will help with network-level breaches.
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23. Explain about CIS critical security controls?
Centre for Internet Security(CIS) is an organization established by a group of security researchers to make the internet a better place for the end-users. CIS group of researchers have defined 20 critical security controls that are at three different levels. They are,
- Basic security controls
- Foundation security controls
- Organizational security controls
24. What is ransomware, give some examples
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts users data, leaves a ransom note requesting a certain amount of ransom to decrypt the data. Ransomware has become very common in recent years, their motive could be to either encrypt and request ransom, encrypt and steal the data, or encrypt and erase the data thus causing havoc to the targeted audience. Examples: WannaCry, Ryuk, NotPetya, SamSam, and GandCrab.
25. How will you increase the security over network browsers?
Browsers are the touchpoints for any digital communication. With so much information being communicated via browsers it's important to establish the right cybersecurity policies for your browsers to keep them safe from cyberattacks like MITD, XSS and remote code execution flaws.
Browsers need to be,
- Updated with the right security policies, by channeling the network traffic via the right proxy server.
- Defined with browser configurations thus preventing users from visiting malicious and anonymous websites.
- Updated with the latest extension and plugin patches.
26. Tell me about Meltdown and Spectre bugs?
Meltdown and Spectre are processor bugs that exploit a speculative execution flaw in the processors that allows hackers and cybercriminals to access sensitive data that is being stored in the cache. Both these bugs were later mitigated when OS manufacturers and AV vendors gave their compatibility patches. The Internet went berserk when these processor bugs were reported on Jan 2018.
27. Explain about automated patch management in detail.
Automated patch management is a process in which the IT admin scans the network for missing patches, identifies the missing patches and downloads them from the vendors websites, test them in a closed environment and later deploy them to the targeted devices based on the criticality of patches by scheduling them according to the convenience of the organization.
28. Explain the difference between penetration tester and vulnerability assessor
Penetration tester tries to break into a network or software to identify potential loopholes associated with that particular entity, however, vulnerability assessor will check for the potential vulnerabilities about the given body alone, unlike the penetration tester where the assessment is done combining all the components of the target environment. A vulnerability assessment will be narrow compared to penetration testing.
29. How to avoid Zero-Day Exploits?
Keeping your applications and devices up-to-date with the latest patches, both security and non-security irrespective of their reason for an update can keep your application and device safe against external threats. Enterprises need to employ an automated patch management procedures to maintain the MS Patch Tuesday updates and third party patches, but updating them with the latest patches may have performance hits in some cases but it is better than to get screwed by cyberthreats.
30. How to secure roaming devices?
Security professionals can use mobile device management (MDM) or unified endpoint management solutions (UEM) to take care of roaming devices even if they are connected to public Wi-Fi's. Organizations can also request their employees to use VPN for safe and secure browsing and business data accessing routines. Sandbox technique that is being implemented in these solutions will help security professionals and IT administrators to secure their corporate data.
31. How will you Secure the USB Devices?
USB devices need to be secured based on how trustworthy they are to the enterprise. IT security professionals need to restrict and allow USB devices based on whether those devices are recognized or not. USB security management can help organizations prevent data leaks, cause havoc through USB sticks, and booby-trapped USB sticks.
32. What is common between GDPR, LGPD, CCPA, and POPI?
All these are data protection laws. GDPR is for Europe, LGPD is for Brazil, CCPA is for California (USA) and POPI is for South Africa. All these laws are being introduced to secure the personal data of the data subjects and maintain privacy in the country. Any business who is doing business in these organizations needs to get compliant towards these data protection laws.
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33. What is DPO?
Data Protection Officer (DPO) is a new role created as per the norms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the year 2018. The demand for this role is high considering the huge risk associated with it. Data Protection Officer will be the official touchpoint and responsible for all the data that is existing inside any corporate environment. He must be aware of the different types of data collected, their source, why they are being collected, what is the process associated with the data collection, whether users have given their consent for processing the data, and when these data are erased from the organization database.
35. Difference Between threat, Vulnerability, and Risk?
Your organization is exposed to a threat when a malicious actor is trying to leverage a vulnerability existing in a network that was not fixed as there is not a proper identification system to define this as a risk. Another way to explain these three would be, IT security professionals should not risk their network allowing device and applications vulnerabilities to exist as this could cause potential cyber threats.
36. What is Deception Technology?
Not all attacks can be prevented proactively and that is why an organization additionally need to equip the reactive approach to keep themselves safe against any unforeseen breaches. Deception Technology is a reactive approach where IT security professionals use their skills and tools, to lure hackers into a path that they did not intend to take.
For example, let us assume a hacker is trying to take down a system in the targeted location with its IP address.
37. What is PKI?
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a framework that is compiled of policies, hardware, software, standards, configurations, to facilitate the trust among the entities that are using the data encryption.
Public key encryption is imperative for communication over emails, any sensitive information communicated over an email can be public-key encrypted, thus leaving the receiver with the information that is very much valid and ensuring it has not reached an incorrect inbox. This is because public key encryption work with a digital certificate, even duplication of the key cannot be successful in this case. Public key encryption is for better security and private key encryption are for storage purposes.
38. Name the difference between process, guidelines, and policies?
The process is a step by step procedure where the readers will be shown what to do next, in case of guidelines its little high-level recommendations and suggestions for networks or applications to formulate a strategy or process to implement the same. Policies are the criteria that have to be defined to maintain security and compliance in a network or application.
39. What is the Zero Trust Network?
Zero trust Network is an evolving framework, where organizations will not trust any device or user so easily, according to this model there will zero trust that will not allow the devices to directly connect with the corporate network unless they verify their identity every time they join the intended network. This Zero Trust is already being implemented in a few fortune 500 companies however, it will take a while before this is being implemented across industries. With the Zero Trust Model, business-sensitive data can stay safe from outside and insider threats.
40. Difference between EU personal data and US personal information?
EU personal data will be a superset for US personal information, as the EU personal data is very vast and it can include anything from data subject's name, age, email, phone number, social security number, country etc however in case of US personal information it does not consider these vast details. Anything that will allow an entity to narrow down and identify the target data subject is personal data. GDPR deals with personal data handling and companies are moving their infrastructure from personal information to personal data handling.
41. Explain the server-client based model?
Server-client based model is composed of two key components server and clients. When one of the machines is hosted as a server, then its clients are generated through these servers and will be deployed to a targeted set of machines. The server will no be able to define settings, policies, configurations and actions to all the clients, or only hand-picked clients which can again be defined based on a workgroup and domains.
Server-client model is mostly used in IT management applications, to facilitate IT administrators to manage, control, monitor, troubleshoot, and update the clients (machines). These clients could be laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, IoT devices, virtual machines, hypervisors and more.
42. Explain about IPS and IDS.
Cyberattacks can be prevented proactively and detected when they are happening. Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) detects the cyberattacks and helps in preventing the cyberattacks from further progress into the network. However, the Intrusion Detection System (IDS) will alert IT administrators for any potential threat that is trying to infiltrate the corporate network.
43. Can you name the difference between false positive and false negative?
If the IDS shows an alert for a network breach but there is not any in real-time then it is called as false positive and if there is a real-time breach inside the network but the IDS is not showing any alert for the attack then it is called as a false negative.
44. What do you know about the red and blue team in cyberspace?
Organizations usually define split their teams for better cybersecurity, the red team will act like attackers and the blue team will act as defenders. The Red team needs to study different methods of breaching into a network, system and account's while the blue team will study different protections, security best practices and more to secure their network, system, and accounts from red team's actions.
This will help the organization understand the security loopholes and release its security advisory in-time before an external malicious cyber actor takes advantage of any existing vulnerabilities.
45. How will you improve data leak prevention in the network?
Data leakage can happen at any given touchpoint in a network, it could be your routers, servers, laptops, mobile devices, servers, IoT and more. Data from these components can be secured by practicing good firewall policies, USB security, internet upload metrics, corporate content management, BYOD management, browser configurations, and strong password policies. All these can be incorporated using an endpoint security tool if the strategies are built the right way.
46. Explain the difference between AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning.
Deep learning is the process of using artificial neural networks to solve the complicated issue, while Machine learning will help machines decide on a problem without being programmed, a superset of deep learning and AI is the universal or parent set for deep learning and machine learning where the machine thinks for itself just like human beings.
AI can be broadly classified into three types,
- Artificial Narrow Intelligence- Very narrow scope, for example: AlphaZero
- Aritificial General Intelligence- The ultimate AI that can think far better than humans. Still in development.
- Artificial Super Intelligence- This is the stage where AI becomes more powerful than humans, as it starts processing the entire historical data and improves the overall results.
47. What is Steganography?
Steganography is the process of hiding and delivering a message to a receiver without showing any identification for the existence of the message itself is called Steganography. In the case of cryptography, the message will be encrypted but in steganography, the presence of message itself is kept hidden.
48. What is Quantum Computing? Why is it evolving?
The process of developing a computer which works based on the principle of quantum theory considering the atomic and sub-atomic particles to define the working mechanism of the computer is called Quantum Computing. In the future, humans are in need of super-fast computers than can process billions o data at a given time, and the existing machines are not capable of doing the same in the short duration but with quantum computing millions of combinations and permutations are possible in a concise duration thus offering better efficiency for the users.
49. What privacy features are essential for a VPN?
VPN in recent times come with a lot of features like kill switch, multi-hopping and more for retaining privacy. However, what's often ignored while choosing a VPN is a good logging policy. Many VPNs retain logs of personally identifiable information of the end-user and destroy the mere purpose of using a VPN.
Understanding and analyzing the VPN comparison in general illuminates what types of log tracking are being offered in the market along with their storing mechanisms. Users should make the right call by evaluating the VPN's based on their network demands.
50. What is an Evil Twin?
Evil twin is a fake Wi-Fi access point that appears to be legible network. When users connect to this fake network they accidentally disclose the usernames and passwords, allowing the hacker to access the same later. This is more like a endpoint security, but at the network level, using Wi-Fi replication techniques.
Learn: WiFi Hacking: Wireless Penetration Testing Course From Scratch
What reports do you follow to keep on industry trends?
Gartner is one key analyst to look at, their predictions help organizations understand the market growth and the current trends in the specific category. Their Magic Quadrants will help organizations understand the key players in a given category, their offerings, pros, and cons. Apart from that users can follow Verizon, Forrester, EMA, and IDC reports to keep up on stats and industry trends.
Cybersecurity is an evolving space, you need to keep yourselves updated and on-trend to secure your network and system against the sneaky and sophisticated cyber threats. Hackers can operate alone, in groups, or by a state. So always keep your proactive and reactive security high to stay vigilant against the malicious cyber actors and their never-ending cyberattacks.Reading through all these 50 questions and answers will help you brush up your cybersecurity knowledge before you hit an interview or an exam. If you have more questions, please share the same via comment and we will answer the same for you.