How to establish cyber strategy in the face of growing threats

Close of computer hacking
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As new security practices and measures are put in place, new work arounds will be created with threat actors constantly changing their tactics and looking for new routes to enter vulnerable systems. It can feel like an endless game, so how can businesses get ahead with cybersecurity?

About the author

Edwige Brossard, CMO, WALLIX.

When reflecting on how the cybersecurity landscape has changed in recent years, we can expect this year to be significantly different too, with fresh challenges, new threats, tools, and tactics, especially as we’re experiencing a new working world with many businesses embracing digital transformation and creating new hybrid models.

However, despite the obstacles, businesses must prepare a new strategy that’s fighting fit to meet today’s security challenges. If organizations are to stand a chance against threat actors working around the clock using new methods to breach into a network, then security practices and general processes must be updated, and fast. From refresher training, to checking gaps in software supply chains, there are multiple areas organizations need to get right to establish security best practice in the age of ever-growing cyber threats.

Re-education is key

Every good cyber strategy involves a team of certified, well-educated security specialists. As cyber risk continues to evolve, IT security teams need be agile, quickly adapting to changes in the cybersecurity landscape and making the conscious effort to keep fully up to date with emerging threats and breach possibilities. It’s also important for businesses to educate security teams and employees across their organization, to minimize risk and ensure good cyber hygiene within the company.

Some employees may be unaware of workplace habits that have the potential to jeopardize company security, such as connecting work devices to unsecure, external networks, so it is crucial for businesses get it right - especially as sophisticated cyber-attacks are on the rise. To combat growing cyber risk, organizations can easily increase cyber awareness by hosting regular security seminars and offer cybersecurity training resources for employees to use. Also, to observe if employees are truly understanding the impact of a potential cyber-attack, companies can set up regular cybersecurity tests for teams to complete.

Make mobile security a priority

Mobile accounts for nearly half of web traffic worldwide, so there’s little surprise that first-rate mobile security is fundamental for optimum cyber strategies in today’s world. The new hybrid workforce - with employees working both remotely, and in the office - has presented new security challenges and led to more unsecure devices gaining access to critical files or data that belongs to the organization. What’s more, employees may not be aware that malicious actors can gain access to organizational systems through any mobile device that is connected to a company network.

Therefore, all cyber strategies must consider the installation of the latest antivirus software solutions on all employee mobile devices, and companies should alert employees about how company security is left vulnerable to threat actors if employees leave their devices out in the open. Companies can also assign devices to each employee and communicate how employees can practice good cyber hygiene when working remotely, for instance, avoiding insecure WiFi networks when logging on to the online company environment and regularly updating operating systems and applications.

Monitor for supply chain gaps

When reflecting on the most impactful and newsworthy attacks of last year, including the Kaseya ransomware attack that affected up to 1,000 businesses worldwide, many of these were the result of threat actors using gaps in the security operations of vendors and supply chains. What’s reassuring is that these attacks can be prevented by implementing privileged access management, or privileged access management, solutions. By securing connections and removing unnecessary access to sensitive systems from unauthorized individuals, businesses can avoid making the same mistakes.

To better secure connections, organizations can employ new strategy of giving as minimal privileges as possible to employees, external third-party partners, and other affiliates. There’s also a wealth of technological tools that can be used by organizations to trace and monitor activity when sensitive materials and information are being accessed, and businesses can implement Zero Trust principles, always segmenting networks and never assuming user identities to protect digital environments. Rooted in the principle “never trust, always verify”, Zero Trust prevents lateral movement on a network and automatically blocks any malicious activity.

Double down on endpoint security

Of course, good endpoint security lays the groundwork for a fighting fit cyber strategy – securing all organizational endpoints from laptops and secure building terminals is critical to prevent the business falling victim to malicious campaigns and insider threats. Endpoint security can involve proactive web security systems and latest antivirus software, an integrated firewall that blocks hostile network attacks even when launched from within the network, email gateways that stop phishing emails from entering inboxes, and machine learning systems that can classify and detect new cyber threats as they emerge. A major element of endpoint security is also making sure that only authorized individuals have the capacity to access sensitive files or terminals that store valuable information.

At first glance, endpoint security tools may appear as costly, but these costs are nothing compared to the potential funds the company will be saving from bolstering frontline cyber defenses. According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report, in 2021, the average cost of a data breach was equivalent to around £31.1m, and this figure does not include the further losses a company can make from losing customer trust. Clearly, the potential losses are too catastrophic for companies to not have efficient endpoint security.

Upgrading and adjusting to new security regulations and threats is no easy feat and establishing best security practices across the organization does not happen overnight. But as security breaches lead to a great loss of customer trust and businesses facing sky high fines, companies are no longer speaking of cybersecurity as a “task”. Now, companies have a “duty” to best protect their business from threats. If organizations want to stay out of negative headlines and remain secure, it is essential to revaluate security and ensure that any processes and measures that are in pace match the current cybersecurity landscape. Business must implement new and up-to-date policies that comply with changing regulations, pay attention to finding and fixing existing gaps in their supply chain, and educate IT teams and other employees now, otherwise they risk severe, costly consequences.

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Edwige Brossard, CMO, WALLIX.