The evolving cybersecurity environment is making it harder to run a business. Traditional network security tends to be passive, that is, to respond after an attack occurs. A passive strategy means that damage has been done and that cleaning up after an attack can be costly and time-consuming. Therefore, enterprises should consider adopting proactive cybersecurity measures to make complete preparations for cybersecurity incidents.
Proactive cybersecurity involves identifying and resolving security risks before an attack occurs. It focuses on prevention and aims to prevent cyber attacks from happening in the first place. Adopting proactive cybersecurity measures can help organizations identify existing vulnerabilities and prevent hackers from exploiting them. Proactive cybersecurity measures typically include continuous monitoring, ethical hacking, employee training, and security audits.
Proactive security measures
Being proactive in protecting your company’s network requires 24/7 network monitoring. Such comprehensive monitoring can help companies monitor network anomalies, identify indicators of compromise and check potential faults in real-time. Automated programs that fit system anomalies, whether hardware or software, should constantly scan the network for system errors and malware intrusions to notify the appropriate personnel when problems occur.
Endpoint monitoring is another essential component of continuous monitoring to maximize local security for each device. With the proliferation of cloud infrastructure and remote working devices, automated active endpoint monitoring is more important than ever. Through automation, organizations can save valuable time and resources and perform maintenance tasks related to bug capture, bug repair, and address anomalies quickly.
A security audit is a process of reviewing and evaluating system security risks and taking corresponding measures. This usually involves reviewing security policy, records of system activities, user activities, and other information to check, review and test the network environment and operations environment. It intends to find system vulnerabilities, intrusion behavior, or improve system performance.
Security audits are an essential measure to improve system security and can be carried out in different ways. The fundamental of all security assessments is risk assessment. It involves the modeling of various risk scenarios based on the information collected from within an organization. Identifying threats and vulnerabilities within an organization, estimating the likelihood of a cybersecurity event, and the resulting impact are all conducted during a risk assessment. This exercise helps an organization to better understand the potential risks to their business and allocate appropriate resources to de-risk their business. Another type of security audit is performing a gap assessment, which is measuring the security compliance of an organization against industry standards such as NIST 800-82 or IEC-62443.
Security audits can deter potential attacks by addressing various issues within an organization in advance and provide an effective disaster recovery through preparedness. It also helps to provide an accountability basis for existing events and assist security management personnel to discover network system intrusion or potential system vulnerabilities on time. Since the world is constantly changing, taking a proactive approach by continuously reviewing risks, looking at emerging threats, and updating systems frequently will help to drastically minimize the chances of a cyberattack.
Ethical hacking, also known as penetration testing or white-hat hacking, aims to assess, enhance and improve security. Generally, external penetration testers are hired to hack into the company’s network or systems to identify potential vulnerabilities, various threat vectors and estimate the extent of damage that can be caused to an organization. These would typically involve techniques that are used by real-world malicious hackers, such as exploiting security controls, bypassing antivirus software, social engineering, using security scanners, performing denial-of-service attacks, and more. Usually, active or passive means are used to collect information about the target, after which penetration testers start to actively detect and look for vulnerabilities that can be exploited, and then use the vulnerabilities to gain access to the system.
This exercise would effectively help to prevent exploitation by malicious hackers, by understanding anomalies and addressing them before an attack occurs. Often, companies can achieve higher profitability by conducting such proactive exercises.
Training internal staff can help company employees stay abreast of the latest cyber security incidents and avoid evolving security threats. According to the IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022 report, ransomware was the number one attack type in 2021. Meanwhile, the most common initial access vehicle for ransomware is phishing emails. Companies should train all employees on ransomware, phishing, and other cybersecurity incidents to let them know what they are doing and what security risks they may have when they surf the Web, open emails, and click on links. Employees should proactively contact their respective cybersecurity personnel to report the problem when receiving suspicious emails.
Benefits of proactive cybersecurity
According to the cybersecurity resource allocation & efficacy index q2-2020 report, organizations that take proactive measures to address enterprise security, feel safer than those that don’t. Organizations can benefit from proactive cybersecurity in a few ways.
- Minimize the chances of a cyberattack on an organization. Through proactive cybersecurity, risks are analyzed and addressed beforehand, and an organization is able to enforce protective and detective measures that reduce the threat surface of the network, resulting in fewer attacks.
- Internal teams don’t react quickly very often. A proactive approach means planning potential attacks and developing a plan to deal with the threat before the attack. Such planning and practice help to react quickly when a cyberattack occurs.
- Identify vulnerabilities before attackers find them. Because proactive cybersecurity includes penetration testing and vulnerability management, organizations can discover vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them.
- Reduce investigation and incident response costs. Because proactive cybersecurity can prevent attacks, the high investment cost of investigation and incident response can be reduced accordingly.
- Improve customer trust. Companies can increase customer trust and attract more customers, without making headlines when data breaches occur, by taking proactive steps to protect data.
Most enterprises are aware of the importance of cybersecurity and are attempting to take corresponding preventive measures. In addition to traditional passive cybersecurity techniques, organizations should also adopt proactive cybersecurity techniques. Only when businesses think about how to better carry out cybersecurity measures in both active and passive methods, can they benefit from the constantly challenging world of cybersecurity and lead their organizations to success and profitability.
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