As companies go increasingly digital, cybersecurity has become an important business function. Organizations these days need to weave cybersecurity into every aspect of their business instead of treating it as an add-on function. Threats are ever-evolving, and static cybersecurity stances are no longer viable.
A static cybersecurity stance is when an organization installs a single security solution and uses that to guard all of its assets. This framework also utilizes one-off network vulnerability tests to determine weak points. Malicious actors these days use self-learning algorithms to unearth security vulnerabilities.
As a result, the first attack is merely the beginning as the attacker begins learning the security measures in place and eventually finds a way through. A dynamic stance uses continuous security validation that actively monitors network assets for threats.
Here’s how your organization can implement continuous security validation in 4 simple steps.
Define Threat Priorities
Organizations own a wide variety of assets these days. For example, financial data is a different asset from customer data. A breach in the former will affect your business very differently than a breach in the latter. A financial data breach will have a worse impact on most businesses than a customer data breach, even though both scenarios are negative.
It’s important to differentiate between the types of assets you have and the criticality of an attack upon them. Order these assets by business risk and prioritize the highest risk ones for continuous monitoring. Your threat priority list also helps you determine your response to an eventual attack.
It can instantly tell you which assets to secure first and devote resources to. Without a risk map in place, you’ll likely stretch your resources thin as you respond uniformly to all threats at once. Continuous monitoring can be a resource-intensive process, which is why a risk-based approach to your digital assets is a good first step to take.
Define Your Tools and Testing Strategies
There are a wide variety of tools you can use to implement continuous security monitoring. At the very least, you should choose tools that monitor your system configuration, network configuration, and conduct regular vulnerability scans.
System configuration errors are a common vulnerability that attackers scan for at first. Some of your tools might be configured incorrectly, and this can create a gap in network security that a hacker can exploit. Network configuration errors are another weak link in an organization’s security stance. Your network policy could be outdated if you’ve been adding new systems to your network.
Many organizations allow their vendors access to their networks, and this could open your network to flaws that originate outside your control. Having robust tools that can monitor network configuration flaws and identify weaknesses is critical.
A continuous security validation platform must scan your network for threats and vulnerabilities at all times. The problem is that threats evolve, and many solutions struggle to keep pace with them. Your platform must be mapped to a recognized security framework that defines and updates itself with the latest threats.
A good example of an effective cybersecurity framework is MITRE ATT&CK. It removes the guesswork from cybersecurity and gives users a clear path regarding security policies and threat responses. For example, if you’re unsure of which attack vectors to prioritize in your security strategy, MITRE ATT&CK will help you understand your threat environment according to the size of your organization.
Use a solution that is based on this framework and you’ll have a system that routinely adapts to reflect security best practices at all times.
Define Network Boundaries and Update Schedules
Your network and security solutions need constant updates and patches to mitigate the risks you face. Many organizations install great solutions but neglect to define their scope. Your network is a vast one, and you have to tailor your policies to it by identifying your boundaries.
This exercise makes it easier for you to understand your domain. It also helps you establish policies for third-parties that access your network. For example, you can establish network connection policies for your suppliers clearly, even if you cannot always dictate their security policies.
Pay close attention to the encryption status in your network, especially with imported data. It’s best if data is encrypted at the source. If this isn’t viable, create encryption policies for data in motion and at rest. Conduct a regular inventory of your network and identify the assets that need patches regularly.
Train Your Employees
No cybersecurity program is complete until you’ve managed to change your employees’ behavior to match security best practices. Design collaborative workshops where business and technical users work together to respond to fire drill situations. For example, you can create workshops where participants are subjected to a variety of phishing emails and help them understand what an appropriate response is.
If you employ teams of developers, make sure security is integrated into every aspect of their work. You can do this by including a security team representative in agile dev teams. Create code templates that have been cleared by security so that developers face minimal security interference.
Continuous Monitoring for Continuous Safety
With attack vectors and threats growing more complicated than ever, a static security plan isn’t going to cut it. Monitor your digital assets at all times to make sure you’re always safe. These four steps will help you implement a dynamic security structure that will keep threats at bay.