In the modern age, a reactive approach to cybersecurity is nowhere near enough.
Businesses already spend an average of over £855,000 per cyber-attack. And even after a successful cleanup, chances are the business will not recover its profitability and brand image prior to the breach.
That’s why taking a proactive stance when it comes to cybersecurity is critical.
What is Proactive Cybersecurity?
Proactive cybersecurity does exactly what it says on the tin.
It focuses on making your company’s IT infrastructure protected against cyber-attackers—putting a stop to their advances before they wreak havoc.
This way, any cost associated with resolutions can be avoided outright.
Below are some ways your business can adopt proactive cybersecurity:
1. Invest in Breach and Attack Simulation
Any self-respecting enterprise today should have an existing cybersecurity stack in place.
The question is, how effective are your cybersecurity solutions? Can they reliably avert cyber-attackers using modern tactics?
Those are the questions that a Breach and Attack Simulation or BAS can answer.
In layman’s terms, BAS works by stress-testing a company’s present security controls, including but not limited to:
- Intrusion Detection System or IDS
- Antivirus software
- Hardware authentication devices
- Network firewall
- Email server filters
Once these security controls are identified, the next step is to configure automated tests that evaluate them for vulnerabilities. And when the results are in, auto-generated reports will be sent over to the organization’s cybersecurity team.
As a bonus, these reports will include remediation options. This way, the company gets the opportunity to fix potential attack vectors before actual hackers can exploit them.
What makes Breach and Attack Simulation effective is the fact that most of the process will be automated.
To keep organizations protected against the latest attacks, BAS solutions also obtain threat data from multiple sources, like:
- First-party data from the organization’s previous cybersecurity reports
- Data obtained from the solution’s internal research team
- Open-source threat intelligence databases such as MITRE ATT&CK
Be sure to ask a BAS vendor for their list of threat information sources. The more comprehensive this list, the more confident you can be in their services.
2. Foster a cybersecurity-aware culture
Whether you like it or not, human error is the root cause of 95 percent of all cybersecurity breaches.
In other words, your workforce could be your most important line of defense against threat actors—or, they could be your downfall.
Anything from weak passwords, bad data storage habits, and poor email security awareness could lead to an expensive cyber-attack. That’s why it’s important to uphold and proliferate cybersecurity awareness throughout your organization.
There are several things that can help build your company’s cybersecurity awareness. As your first step, you need to make cybersecurity awareness training mandatory for personnel who directly handle and manage sensitive data.
Your company should also implement a password reset policy wherein employees are required to regularly update their passwords. For remote employees, make sure you incorporate the use of secure VPNs to keep their connections encrypted.
3. Use a Zero Trust policy
The idea behind a Zero Trust policy is simple: assume that no network access request is safe.
That means one or more authentication steps must be completed each time a device tries to connect to your network.
To make this possible, you may need a combination of multifactor authentication tools, endpoint security, and identity protection tools. This will help you ensure that no malicious actor ever gains access to your company’s sensitive data.
Just remember that a Zero Trust policy can be disruptive to the everyday workflow of employees.
As a security protocol, Zero Trust is definitely effective in reducing the likelihood of data breaches. However, you need to consider the impact of such a policy on your organization’s productivity.
4. Deploy User and Event Behavioral Analytics
User and Event Behavioral Analytics, or UEBA, is another automated strategy that can prevent cyber-attacks before they cause damage.
As the name implies, UEBA works by actively monitoring the activities of users, devices, and software processes within your IT network.
UEBA solutions rely on the power of machine learning to analyze millions of interactions and create behavioral profiles. When something out of the ordinary occurs within your network, the system sends alerts of a potential breach.
5. Use red teaming
Red teaming is a cybersecurity adversarial testing practice that evaluates your company’s cyber defense and exposes vulnerabilities.
During the activity, ethical hackers—AKA the “red team”—uses real-world strategies that actual hackers use to penetrate your network. This will enable you to prop up your cybersecurity measures to be capable of defending against modern attacks.
A red teaming strategy starts with a goal. For example, your organization can hire a red team to unveil the potential pathways hackers can use to access specific assets.
The red team will then get to work and find possible exploits—from simple phishing to cross-site scripting vulnerabilities.
Penetration testing is another validation practice with similar functions. It also aims to build a list of detected network weaknesses that hackers can exploit.
What makes penetration testing different is, it tries to identify every single exploit that can be found in your IT infrastructure. Red teaming, on the other hand, focuses on a single goal and target asset.
6. Continuous Security Validation
Just like red teaming, Continuous Security Validation or CSV also aims to test the existing cybersecurity measures of an organization.
The main difference-maker is, CSV is fully automated.
It encompasses an array of tools, including BAS, to map the attack surface, identify potential attack vectors, and generate remediation recommendations.
Similar to BAS, CSV also pulls threat models from different sources, including open-source threat knowledge bases. It then uses threat intelligence to mimic how a real-world hacker would try to penetrate an organization’s network.
CSV is much more efficient and reliable than red teaming and penetration testing because of the shorter testing cycles.
Since it is fully automated, you can expect to see reports flowing in regularly. This will keep your organization protected against the latest threats, including zero-day attacks.
Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation with thousands of employees, cybersecurity is something you shouldn’t take lightly.
The stakes are most definitely high. And even if your company’s financial profile can cushion the impact of a cyber-attack, such incidents can cause irreparable damages to your brand’s image.
If you haven’t done it already, plan how your company can take a proactive approach to cybersecurity as soon as possible. Good luck!