How to Find the Gaps in Your Cyber Defenses

If you’re a cybersecurity pro, they are the last three letters you want to hear: G-A-P.

And it has nothing to do with your jeans.

We’re talking about security gaps, which are an unfortunate fact of life and certain to remain so — at least until humans are entirely replaced by AI. People are fallible, which means the systems we build and the networks we maintain are always going to be prone to vulnerability.

While that may sound like sobering news, we also have the tools we need to mitigate risk by identifying and closing gaps as quickly as they open.

Why Security Gaps Arise

If you look at the reason for security gaps developing in retrospect, you can see various patterns begin to emerge. Organizations often become vulnerable because they do a poor job of assessing risk, they lack cyber preparedness, they are overexposed to third parties or they have an overly reactive security posture.

Additionally, modern computing is almost designed to create evolving vulnerabilities. Rising complexity and continuous changes within our infrastructures mean that new security gaps can (and do) pop up at any time. Poor implementation — often occurring when IT teams must do more with less or operate under difficult mandates (such as quickly migrating to the cloud) — also plays a role.

So, in addition to having a proactive cyber defense, how does one take steps to address these issues? A gap analysis is one option. These tools can identify risks, prioritize remediation efforts and improve overall security. A good analysis provides a contrast between the ideal state of security within your organization and the current state.

A gap analysis will often include research and interviews with IT staffers and management, analysis of critical data and actionable steps to close any gaps that are discovered. Overall, it helps an organization view its security holistically and plot out the necessary steps to eliminate cybersecurity attack vectors.

In addition to a formal outside gap analysis, organizations can also choose to use some proven tools to identify and eliminate vulnerabilities. Namely, penetration testing and red teaming. Manual pen tests do an excellent job of uncovering security gaps within IT environments, while red teams can be called in to simulate a sophisticated attack against an organization’s defenses.

Automated vulnerability scanning, too, can help check for outdated software and open ports, closing obvious holes. Yet there is also another emerging technology that offers the benefits of all of these approaches rolled into a single platform: Cyber-attack simulation.

Why Breach and Attack Simulation is Key for Closing Hidden Security Gaps

In terms of cutting-edge cyber defense solutions, few can offer the versatility of breach and attack simulation (BAS) software. This technology serves as a cyber-attack simulator, launching continuous attacks on your networks and systems to root out hidden vulnerabilities.

In other words, it acts much like white hat pen testers or red teams by mimicking the mindset of adversaries and attempting to breach environments along likely attack paths, using the same techniques favored by hackers. It does this with no disruption to production, and it provides protection on a continuous basis. While manual pen tests and red teams are resource intensive and therefore episodic, BAS tools can run continuously — the key to identifying gaps caused by fast-evolving changes.

XM Cyber’s BAS technology is the only fully automated solution that works in Amazon Web Services (AWS), making it the best choice for cyber defense for hybrid cloud. If you’d like to know more about how XM Cyber helps minimize gaps by allowing you to play defense by offense while enabling continuous security posture improvement.

Marcus Gilban is Head of Marketing Communications at XM Cyber.