Five Best Practices for Proactive Security Posture Management

When it comes to having an effective security posture, it often boils down to three words: Reactive or proactive?

Let’s take a closer look at why this distinction is so critical — and five things you can do to ensure that your security posture assessment is a positive one.

REACTIVE OR PROACTIVE AND WHY IT MATTERS

There may be cybersecurity teams out there who are composed of world-class professionals armed with the very best tools and for whom budget is all but irrelevant. Unfortunately, most of us don’t live in that world. Instead, we labor in a world of limited resources, constant tradeoffs, and variable skill and experience levels.

The result of this reality often manifests as a security team that struggles to keep up and is stuck in a reactive posture, chasing down a deluge of alerts and not responding to events quickly enough. Over a long enough time period, this is a recipe for staff burnout — and dangerous data breaches.

By being more proactive, however, it’s possible to stimulate organizational learning and develop a deeper understanding of threats and how to best prevent them. So how does one get in front of problems before they develop and manage risk in a sustainable fashion?

Here are five best practices you can adopt to maintain a proactive security posture.

1. Develop a Strategy that Balances Active Interventions with Prevention

Effective risk and vulnerability management begin with a sound strategic framework. It’s important to clearly delineate the nature and value of the assets you’re protecting, identify the most common methods and vectors used to target these assets and understand the nature of previous vulnerabilities in your system.

Armed with this knowledge, you have the necessary grounding to take the following step: Deploying proactive security measures to identify weaknesses within your existing security environments.

2. Adopt the Mindset of an Attacker

This is critical for developing a deeper understanding of the true strengths and weaknesses of your security posture. Instead of considering how your defenses should work in some ideal, theoretical context, this approach allows you to probe how they are actually performing in the wild. Gaining this perspective allows you to identify and prepare for the most likely attack paths and tactics adversaries will wield against you.

So what’s the best way to adopt this mindset? Breach and attack simulation platforms — such as the award-winning solution offered by XM Cyber — allow defenders to continuously launch simulated attacks against their own systems, identifying security gaps and closing them through guided remediation. By gaining access to a security posture dashboard and developing deeper visibility into assets across multiple environments, it’s possible to make fast, high impact changes to overly reactive setups.

3. Identify and Assign Defined Roles

A team without clear roles and responsibilities and lines of authority is a team that is likely to fail. If you want to identify threats and respond to them efficiently it’s essential to ensure that wires don’t get crossed and every team member knows exactly when to jump in and what to do. Once you’ve got defined roles and responsibilities in place, you’ll be ahead of the curve on proactive threat protection.

4. Avoid Box Ticking

Box ticking exercises are a hallmark of over-reactive security postures. Too often security professionals deploy tools for specific challenges and assume they are covered. The problem is, those tools are often insufficient to the task, or they are used in the wrong way. To avoid this, go deeper and ensure you have the right people prepared to use your tools, that your tools all work well together and that they fit into the overall strategic context of your defenses.

5. Test Your Incident Response

In addition to pen testing (whether manual or automated) and vulnerability assessments, incorporate regular incident response drills. Using all of these elements together ensures that you are approaching things in a holistic manner and that you will have the necessary level of preparedness when real-world threats emerge — a key consideration for proactive cyber defense.

The Takeaway

Today’s organizations need greater visibility into their own assets and the threats that place them in jeopardy. Developing a smart proactive security posture — and augmenting it with cyber-attack simulation and other cutting-edge security tools — is the best way to accomplish this critical task.

Shahar Solomon is Customer Operations Manager, XM Cyber