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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Basic Level Cyber Security Interview Questions
2.1.
1. What is the main objective of Cyber Security?
2.2.
2. What is phishing?
2.3.
3. What is a firewall?
2.4.
4. What does XSS stand for? How can it be prevented?
2.5.
5. What do you mean by Network Sniffing?
2.6.
6. What is cipher text?
2.7.
7. What is encryption?
2.8.
8. What is decryption?
2.9.
9. What is cryptography?
2.10.
10. What are Kerberos?
3.
Intermediate Level Cyber Security Interview Questions
3.1.
11. What is a vulnerability assessment?
3.2.
12. What is a patch in cyber security?
3.3.
13. What is multi-factor authentication?
3.4.
14. What is a Denial of Service attack?
3.5.
15. What are the two types of attacks in message integrity?
3.6.
16. What are some basic cryptographic tools?
3.7.
17. What do you mean by brute force in the context of Cyber Security?
3.8.
18. What do you mean by System Hardening?
3.9.
19. What are the advantages of Kerberos authentication?
4.
Advanced Level Cyber Security Interview Questions
4.1.
20. What is a known LL-key attack?
4.2.
21. What is a Key-predistribution scheme?
4.3.
22. What are session keys, and how are they useful?
4.4.
23. What are the differences between the Key distribution and Key agreement schemes?
4.5.
24. What are the various cryptographic protocols?
4.6.
25. What is mutual authentication?
4.7.
26. What are the various types of attack models?
4.8.
27. What are the two types of adversarial goals?
4.9.
28. Describe the three security levels.
4.10.
29. What are the various types of cryptosystems?
4.11.
30. What are session key distribution schemes?
5.
Frequently Asked Questions
5.1.
What questions are asked in a cyber security interview?
5.2.
What are the 5 types of cyber security?
5.3.
What are cyber security basics?
6.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Top Cyber Security Interview Questions (2023)

Author RAGHAV ANUSHA
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Introduction

Cyber Crime in today's world is everyday news. It is crazy how widespread the impact it has on internet users. Cyber security is essential for organizations and individuals. It helps us to protect our computer systems, networks, and sensitive data from unauthorized access, theft, and damage. It involves a range of technologies, processes, and practices designed to protect data from cyber threats such as malware, viruses, and phishing.     

cyber security interview questions

Cyber Security is a critical aspect for anyone using the internet. Knowing the different threats and methods for ensuring a safe online experience is essential. Let's examine the Top Cyber Security Interview Questions (2023) at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.

Basic Level Cyber Security Interview Questions

1. What is the main objective of Cyber Security?

Cyber security aims to maintain secure data storage, manage access, and prevent unlawful data processing, transfer, or deletion. It protects information's confidentiality, integrity, and availability. A variety of cyber security techniques are implemented to protect networks and computer hardware from malicious attacks and harm. Organizations develop security goals and policies based on the cyber security criteria that must be met.

2. What is phishing?

Phishing is a type of cyber attack. It involves sending fake emails and messages to trick people into providing sensitive information, including credit card details and passwords. It can be carried out through social media, phone calls, or SMS messages. These attacks can take various forms, such as spear phishing targeting popular or high-profile individuals. They often result in severe consequences for individuals and organizations, such as identity theft and financial loss. It is essential to be aware of suspicious emails and messages to protect sensitive data against cyber attacks like phishing. We can verify the authenticity of websites before entering sensitive information. It is advisable to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication whenever possible.                       

3. What is a firewall?

A firewall in cyber security is a network security system. It monitors and controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an organization's previously established security policies. Firewalls can be implemented as both software and hardware to protect organizations or individuals from potential cyberattacks. Monitoring network security and blocking suspicious traffic is essential to prevent unauthorized access.   

4. What does XSS stand for? How can it be prevented?

XSS is an abbreviation for cross-site scripting. It is a web security flaw that allows an attacker to compromise user interactions with a susceptible application. It enables an attacker to bypass the same origin policy, which is intended to separate various websites. 

Web developers should validate and clean user inputs, encrypt user-generated content before displaying it, use secure frameworks and libraries, secure cookies with HttpOnly and Secure flags, conduct routine security audits, instruct developers about security best practices, and keep all software components updated with security patches to prevent Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks.

5. What do you mean by Network Sniffing?

Network Sniffing is a passive approach for monitoring network communication, decoding protocols, and inspecting headers and payloads for relevant information. It is a technique for both identifying and analyzing targets. Sniffers are used by attackers to capture data packets including sensitive passwords and account information. Sniffers are implemented in the system as hardware or software. A hostile intruder on a network can gather and analyze all network traffic by utilizing a packet sniffer in promiscuous mode.

6. What is cipher text?

Cipher texts refer to encrypted or encoded messages that people can not understand. Ciphertext can be understood only when it is decrypted using the key. It is an essential part of cyber security as it helps to maintain the authenticity and confidentiality of sensitive data. Cipher texts are crucial in securing data during communication, transmission, and storage.

7. What is encryption?

Encryption in cyber security is the process of converting plain text into cipher text. It protects sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card details, and passwords, from potential cyber-attacks. It uses complex algorithms to encrypt the plain text that people can not understand until authorized users with a key or password decrypt it.     

8. What is decryption?

Decryption is the process of converting cipher text to plain text. It involves using a key to unlock the encryption algorithm used to decrypt cipher text that people can understand. It ensures that only authorized users can interpret and access sensitive information.

9. What is cryptography?

It is a technique through which we convert a plain text to cipher text and cipher text to plain text. Plain text is a message that can be understood and read by any human, whereas Cipher text is an encrypted message that can only be read but can not be understood. Plain text is converted to cipher text using a key and vice versa. With this key, we can decode the cipher text into plain text.

10. What are Kerberos?

Kerberos is a network security protocol developed at MIT in the late '80s and early '90s for Project Athena. It is used to authenticate service requests between trusted hosts across the internet. To verify the user's identity, Kerberos uses secret-key cryptography and a trusted authority to authenticate the application. It is implemented in big tech giants like Microsoft, Unix, and Apple.

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Intermediate Level Cyber Security Interview Questions

11. What is a vulnerability assessment?

A vulnerability assessment identifies and evaluates the security weaknesses of an organization's IT infrastructure and various digital assets. It is an essential component of any effective cyber-security program. Vulnerability assessment aims to identify vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. It also analyzes the risk associated with different vulnerabilities and prioritizes them based on the attack's impact. 

12. What is a patch in cyber security?

A patch in cyber security is a software update that identifies a security weakness in an existing software application. Developers release patches to fix issues that may make a system or application vulnerable to cyber-attacks. It is essential to regularly apply patches to ensure our systems' security and protect them against any potential attacks.

13. What is multi-factor authentication?

Multi-factor authentication in cyber security is a security mechanism. It requires users to provide more than one form of authentication factor, such as something they know, something they have, and something they are. These factors help to ensure authorized access to any application or system. Multi-factor authentication aims to increase the security of user authentication and makes it difficult for attackers to gain access to a system even if they have the password.

14. What is a Denial of Service attack?

A Denial of Service attack is a cyber attack that aims to disturb the functioning of a network or website. It does so by sending a massive volume of traffic to the target website from multiple sources; this makes it impossible to respond to any user requests or messages on the website. This results in financial and reputational damage.   

15. What are the two types of attacks in message integrity?

Message integrity is an essential aspect of cyber security. It refers to the assurance that the message is authentic and is not altered or disclosed. It ensures the confidentiality and integrity of data. We can use cryptographic techniques, such as digital signatures, to ensure message integrity and protect data from unauthorized access and modification. There two types of attacks in message integrity are as follows - 
 

  • Passive attack:  Here, an unauthorized party has access to the data. They do not alter the data, but their objective might be to read for pleasure or eavesdrop. For example - a user is passive during the information-gathering phase. When this user plans on an attack later, they might be a passive adversary, meaning that their actions are harmless and limited only to eavesdropping on the messages transmitted through the network channel. 
     
  • Active attack: An active attack is when an unauthorized party here has access to the data. An active adversary can perform several kinds of malicious actions, as listed below - 
    1. Breach of the authenticity of the data by altering it during transmission.

    2. Saving the messages and denying access to the statements later. 

    3. Attempt to masquerade as several users in the network channel.

Also read - active and passive attacks

16. What are some basic cryptographic tools?

Encryption alone can not protect the data from attackers. This is where cryptographic tools come into play. These tools shield the data from attackers. One example is The Message Authentication Code in secret-key settings or signature schemes in public-key settings. Let us take a look at these tools:

  • Message Authentication Code (MAC) is a tool to detect accidental and intentional data fabrications. This tool requires the original message and key as the two inputs known only to the sender and receiver.
     
  • Signature Scheme: It is a technique in which the user generates a signature. This signature is dependent on the signed messages and their keys. 
     
  • Non-repudiation: This cryptographic tool is a situation in which the data's sender or author can not challenge the authorship of any associated contract.
     
  • Certificates: A certificate helps to verify the authenticity of the public keys before they are used.
     
  • Hash functions: A public function without a key that compresses the message is known as a hash function.

17. What do you mean by brute force in the context of Cyber Security?

The name "brute force" comes from attackers who use excessive force to gain access to user accounts. Despite being an old cyberattack approach, brute force attacks have been tried and proven and are still a common tactic among hackers. A brute force attack is a hacking technique that uses trial and error to crack passwords, login credentials, and encryption keys. It is a simple yet dependable method of gaining unauthorized access to individual accounts as well as systems and networks of companies. The hacker attempts various usernames and passwords, generally using a computer to test a wide range of combinations until they find the correct login credentials.

18. What do you mean by System Hardening?

System hardening involves doing everything possible to detect and repair security flaws in hardware, firmware, software, applications, passwords, or processes. The primary purpose of system hardening is to increase the overall security of your IT infrastructure. This reduces the likelihood of data breaches, unauthorized access, and malware penetration. By avoiding assaults, you can avoid unplanned downtime associated with remediation. System hardening can also assist you in meeting any internal or external regulations.

19. What are the advantages of Kerberos authentication?

Given below are some benefits of Kerberos Authentication -

  • Kerberos helps users keep track of their login details and enforce security policies. 
     
  • The timestamp, authentication duration, and data of each of the Kerberos tickets are controlled and managed by the administrator.
     
  • In Kerberos, the service systems can authenticate users and vice versa.
     
  • The user authentication in Kerberos is durable and reusable, meaning that the system needs to verify them at just one time.
     
  • Kerberos security protocol promises a strong and secure defense. All the secret keys here are encrypted.

Advanced Level Cyber Security Interview Questions

20. What is a known LL-key attack?

In a known LL-key attack, the attacker gets access to the LL-keys of the users. If this kind of attack happens, a new scheme must be set up immediately. However, we can limit the damage done by this kind of attack by ensuring that the adversary does not get access to the previous session keys. This particular scheme is said to have the properties of perfect forward secrecy.  

21. What is a Key-predistribution scheme?

In a key distribution scheme, a trusted authority distributes the information related to the key before everyone is connected to the network. It should be noted that a secure channel is necessary while the keys are distributed. Network users can later use these secret keys to encrypt the messages they wish to transmit over the network.    

22. What are session keys, and how are they useful?

Session keys are used for encryption and decryption. They are generated randomly to ensure the privacy of data exchanged between users. They are called session keys because they are used for only one session. When a session is completed, they are discarded, and a new session key is generated. There are various reasons why session keys are helpful -

  • Session keys limit the amount of cipher text that the attacker can access. This is because session keys are changed regularly.
     
  • Session keys limit exposure if the scheme is designed well; this enables session keys to be used in risky environments with high exposure possibilities. 
     
  • Using session keys reduces the amount of long-term data that needs to be secured by each party because these keys for two users are only constructed when required.

23. What are the differences between the Key distribution and Key agreement schemes?

The difference between Key Distribution and Key Agreement are as follows - 

  • Key distribution is a mechanism in which a trusted authority chooses, encrypts, and transmits session key(s) between one or more authorized parties. On the other hand, a key agreement is a protocol wherein network users collectively choose a session key by communicating through a public channel.
     
  • In the Key Agreement Scheme, the value of the key is determined as the function of secret information of users. The parties provide the inputs in this scheme. There is also a protocol wherein the user chooses, encrypts, and sends the key to the other user. The situation described here is called Key transport. 
     
  • Some of the key distribution problems can be avoided by using the key agreement protocol.

24. What are the various cryptographic protocols?

cryptographic protocol is a sequence of exchanged messages between parties. A protocol session consists of one or more flows. These flows consist of the data sent from one party to another and vice versa. When the session ends, the two parties might have exchanged some information or confirmed possessing some previously exchanged facts. There are four different types of protocols - 

  • Identification scheme: In this scheme, one party must prove their identity to the other party. They can do so by possessing identification proof. For example - a password.
     
  • Key distribution scheme: A key distribution scheme allows a trusted authority to choose and communicate the key between network members.
     
  • Key Agreement: This scheme is similar to the key distribution scheme. However, an active and trusted authority is not required here. 
     
  • Secret Sharing Scheme: As the name suggests, this scheme is a way in which parts of a secret are distributed within a network. This is achieved so that no one can individually hold any intelligible information. However, the original message can be found when the shared information is combined.  

25. What is mutual authentication?

Mutual identification or mutual authentication is a scheme in which User 1 and User 2 prove and justify their identity to each other. If a session of the scheme is to be successful and completed, both users have to "accept." The attacker can deceive any or both of the users into accepting. The adversarial Goal is to make an innocent user "accept" after a flow where the attacker is active.    

26. What are the various types of attack models?

Given below are the various types of Attack Models - 

  • Known Cipher text Attack: The attacker can access some cipher text encrypted with the same unknown key. 
     
  • Known Plaintext Attack: The attacker here has access to some plain text and its corresponding cipher text, encrypted with the same key.  
     
  • Chosen Cipher Text Attack: The attacker is provided with the corresponding cipher text when they have chosen the plain text.
     
  • Chosen Plaintext Attack: In a chosen plain text attack, the attacker is provided with the corresponding plain text when they have chosen the cipher text.

27. What are the two types of adversarial goals?

There are two types of adversarial goals -

  • Weaker goals: Even if the attacker is unsuccessful in completely breaking the system, they may successfully get access to a previously unseen cipher text. The attacker can decrypt the cipher text to access some partial information about the plain text. They can also distinguish between encryptions of two different given plain texts. The attacker here has access to the previously unseen cipher text. This kind of adversarial Goal is called a weaker goal.
     
  • Stronger goals: A goal where the attacker successfully breaks the system and gets access to the private key is called a stronger adversarial goal. 

28. Describe the three security levels.

The three levels of security are defined as follows - 

  • Computational Security: It is any specified algorithm that intends to break the system but can not work in a possible range of time.
     
  • Provable Security: This level of security refers to the type or level of computer security we can prove. Mathematical proofs are standard in the field of Cryptography. This level of security is also known as reductionist security. 
     
  • Unconditional Security: Breaking the system is impossible in this type of security because there is not enough information available to the attacker, irrespective of the computational resources available.

29. What are the various types of cryptosystems?

A key is an essential element of information necessary to decrypt the text. Cryptosystems tell us about the key and how we can use a key to encrypt or decrypt data. Let us take a look at the types of cryptosystems -

  • Secret-key Cryptosystems: In a secret-key cryptosystem, one secret key is mutually decided between the parties in this system. This private key is used to encrypt and decrypt data.
     
  • Public-key Cryptosystems: It is a system that uses both public and private keys to encrypt and decrypt the cipher text respectfully. This concept was first introduced in the 1970s.
     
  • Block ciphers: The plain text in a block cipher is divided into blocks of fixed sizes. These blocks are encrypted by the block cipher one by one. For example - public-key cryptosystems.
     
  • Stream Ciphers: In a stream cipher, a key stream is constructed, a bit string of the same length as the plain text. For example - secret-key cryptosystems.
     
  • Hybrid Cryptography: It is a technique that combines the benefits of both secret and public-key cryptosystems.

30. What are session key distribution schemes?

In a session key distribution system, a session key is chosen and distributed online in an encrypted format at the request of the network users. Session key distribution schemes sometimes do not have mutual identification of users included in the session of the respective scheme.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What questions are asked in a cyber security interview?

In the interview, interviewers may ask about your understanding of different types of cyber threats, like malware, SQL injection, and how you would defend against them. They may ask to explain the steps involved in securing a network. Overall they will try to assess your problem-solving skills and thinking abilities.

What are the 5 types of cyber security?

Five types of cyber security are network security, application security, Internet of Things security, information security, and cloud security.

What are cyber security basics?

Cyber security basics are measures implemented to protect systems and data from cyber threats. It includes securing networks, updating software, and educating users to stay safe from online threats.

Conclusion

The need for constant attention and adaptability to deal with ever-evolving dangers makes cybersecurity an essential component of our modern environment. In order to protect our digital infrastructure and privacy, it comprises a variety of approaches involving technology, regulations, and cooperative efforts. This article discussed Top Cyber Security Interview Questions (2023) for both freshers as well as experienced candidates.

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