Cybersecurity isn’t something new. Businesses are emphasized to protect their data systems from hackers for decades. Unfortunately, the escalating rate of digitalization that is consuming IT resources across organizations has led to basic network and device hygiene becoming one of the most neglected components of cybersecurity.
It shows! Take the Petya and Equifax breaches for instance. Breaches like these proved that 90 percent of the organizations carried vulnerabilities for at least 3 years. This shows that cybersecurity needs to become a fundamental best practice. After paying my Spectrum TV bill online, I jumped on to a blog about cybersecurity attacks and the need to take it seriously.
Okay, cybersecurity is important. But what needs to be prioritized? Tag along to find that out!
The first course of action is to prioritize vulnerabilities. One way of doing that is to understand what vulnerabilities are most likely to be targeted. When you are clear about the type of vulnerabilities attackers probe for the most, this can help determine which assets in your organization require patching on a priority basis.
For this, your IT team will have to analyze previous cybersecurity reports and ask the right questions and then manage vulnerabilities at top priority. Take a look at the previous breaches to check if the same exposure exists in your environment. If these vulnerabilities exist, reduce the exposure or eliminate them right away.
Perform a Risk Assessment
The only way to get ahead of vulnerabilities is to find out where to strengthen your defenses. This is done by conducting a risk assessment. It helps you understand your existing environment and system and identify risks by analyzing the information or data collected.
Gather all the relevant information. Start by checking the full inventory of physical assets, network infrastructure, IoT, laptops, PCs, data management systems, and other connected devices. This also includes the security solutions deployed such as network monitoring tools, intrusion detection systems, and firewalls. If you have a SIEM solution, most of this information can be gathered from there. Once all information is collected, compare it against compliance requirements defining security controls or any other documented guidelines.
Once that is crossed from the list, perform the following tasks:
- Identify all short and long term business goals affecting IT and security
- Review the existing security policies, guidelines, protocols, and procedures
- Analyze current assets for prioritizing threats and vulnerabilities
- Access physical protection for network components and other equipment
- Analyze security devices, remote access systems, and other devices and comparing them against the network and business requirements
- Access how aware the employees are about security and committed of employees on security
- Review the security agreements with contractors, service providers, vendors, and cloud providers
After this and only this can you develop or update your risk management system and implement security strategies
Now comes the real deal, managing risk. If you are an IT organization, you might already have an informal priority list in your head. But it’s not enough. Your existing security system must address critical risks.
Risk evaluation allows you to create a formal priority list so that your IT department takes that list seriously. Involve the managers in assigning risk values so that you get justification to fund the critical IT projects.
Keep in mind this priority list can never be static. Issues such as the end of life of the server or a new ransomware attack require a reevaluation of the risk profile.
Get the Right Support
Now, your team must make a real distinction between different tiers of assets in order to ensure that the most critical ones are protected first.
Even though you have a priority list and you try your best to address the issues that demand utmost priority, remember that emergency issues cannot be eliminated completely. But by securing the most critical assets, you can reduce the urgency required for addressing other issues in the queue.
Cybersecurity experts suggest the order in which priority should be a delay:
Its plan A, that focuses on preventing breaches by reducing the stack surface and vulnerabilities. It’s followed by mission-critical industries or government organizations.
Detection and Response
There is a school of thought that believes prevention is futile. You must rather make efforts on detection and then come up with a response.
There is yet another school of thought that believes your focus should be impact control and recovery.
Consult the Management
Some cybersecurity experts believe that the primary objective must be conniving management auditors to ensure security means compliance requirements.
Were you giving cybersecurity priority? If it has been on the backburner, it’s high time to sit with your IT team and create a plan!