Cybersecurity has never been an easy game to play, but the difficulty curve has certainly risen sharply in recent years. Adversaries with limited resources and skills can find thousands of attack tools for sale in online markets. Meanwhile, state-sponsored Advanced Persistent Threats are more sophisticated and dangerous than ever, with their ability to penetrate networks, move laterally, exfiltrate critical assets, and evade detection.
That alone is enough to keep cybersecurity pros awake at night. Yet it’s hardly the only reason for alarm. The attack surface has expanded exponentially, by COVID-19 pandemic who sent a large amount of the workforce to work remotely. The rapid increase in cloud computing extended the attack surface and need to change the security posture for the risks it brings.
Now that we have your attention, let’s start talking solutions. Here are four smart steps you can take right now to level the playing field and develop a stronger IT security posture.
Determine Your Maximum Risk Tolerance and Assess Key Risks and Impacts
Cybersecurity, in many ways, involves trade-offs. Perfect security is an impossibility and organizations do not have unlimited resources. A sound risk management approach begins with a cybersecurity posture assessment of how much risk you are willing to assume and the key risks that jeopardize your business.
Within this security posture assessment, it’s important to create a baseline and game out the likely impact on business operations of all identified risks. Devote the appropriate resources to the areas that pose the most risk.
By doing so, you gain deeper insight into systemic risk and can build a plan that is effectively managing those risks.
Create a True Security Culture
To make an error is human. Even the best, most vigilant workers can have a bad day and click on a questionable link. A strong security posture begins with the realization that human error cannot be eliminated or permanently overcome. It must be managed, accommodated, and neutralized as best as possible through awareness, understanding, and behavior-reinforcement training.
The best way to effectively improve human awareness is to create a true security culture that permeates every level of an organization. Security must be a core strategic objective and every significant action is taken should be viewed, at least in part, through the prism of cybersecurity.
Build a Deeper Layer of Protection for Your Crown Jewel Assets
Vulnerability scanning and patching are important but they are out of context and they do not have a good prioritization plan therefore require a lot of resources to close all the gaps. A Manual penetration testing can help provide a clearer window into how adversaries are likely to target an organization and the consequences should that targeting prove effective.
Yet pen tests are expensive and typically staged quarterly or even yearly. What’s happening during those long gaps between tests? In a world where infrastructure changes come fast and furious (and new vulnerabilities crop up constantly), this lack of cyber posture visibility is a big problem.
Using a fully automated breach and attack simulation platform (such as XM Cyber’s) allows an organization to take the benefits of pen testing and make them continuous and efficient. By launching continuous attack simulations to discover the full attack vector to the critical assets — and offering prioritized remediation guidance — these platforms allow for a proactive, multi-layer approach to manage the risk. In other words, they significantly enhance the security posture of an organization.
Introduce the Concept of Continuous Improvement
Cybersecurity is relentlessly dynamic, and security postures should be designed with this in mind. By fostering a commitment to the ongoing incremental improvement, organizations can build resilience over time.
To accomplish this, create a baseline and a framework for assessing various aspects of the whole cybersecurity approach. Identify areas of strength and weakness and commit to programmatically improving them over time. One way to do this is to incorporate tools (such as the aforementioned breach and attack simulation software) that align with the concept of continuous protection and improvement.
An effective security posture is one that is:
- Proactive and aligned with the dynamic nature of modern computing environments
- Reflective of real personal investment across all levels of an organization and contributing to a pervasive and vibrant security culture
- Committed to continuous improvement.
Integrate these elements and dedicate your organization to security posture improvement, and your odds of keeping your critical assets safe — and IT department morale high – are greatly enhanced.
Nitzan Shatil is Customer Operations Manager, XM Cyber