Businesses face evolving threats in cyberspace these days. According to a study conducted by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach is $8.64 million in the United States. It isn’t enough for you to install cybersecurity measures and periodically check-in on them. To successfully combat the threats you face, your business must evolve towards a constant security validation model that consistently performs risk assessments and stress tests your security controls.
Here are 4 steps you can take right now to move from a static cybersecurity model to a more dynamic security validation environment.
1. Validate Controls, Not Configuration
The biggest task facing cybersecurity professionals these days is the validation of controls. It isn’t enough to make sure these controls are configured correctly. They also need to be relevant. With the threat landscape constantly evolving, security controls are growing obsolete at a faster pace than ever before.
Traditional cybersecurity processes involve checking logs, reports, and configuration details. These are compared to regulatory guidelines, compliance needs, and risk mandates. This procedure works well in a static environment where regulation keeps pace with the risks your business faces. However, this isn’t the case anymore with cybersecurity.
To secure your business, you need to dig deeper and generate evidence-based reports that your controls are effective. You must compare your controls to best practices and develop processes to overcome gaps in your current infrastructure. Validating your controls is an active process and requires you to question your assumptions. Compared to this, validating configurations is a passive activity.
Developing prescriptive steps to address your shortcomings is crucial. An approach such as this always assumes the worst and seeks to mitigate it. Compared to older cybersecurity approaches, this might seem excessively negative. However, it will secure you from the threats you face.
2.Adapt To Continuous Security Validation
The most common techniques to validate controls are penetration tests (pen tests) and red hat exercises. While these methods are effective, they’re still one-time audits of your controls. Attackers aren’t going to choose a single point in time to breach your network. These days, with AI being used to create attack algorithms, malicious actors constantly threaten your network and learn better ways to undermine it.
As a result, a pentest that takes a few weeks to complete will likely be obsolete by the time it’s done. You need to move from a single point in time model to a continuous security validation environment. Your security validation platforms must augment your one-time audits to give you a well-rounded picture of your threat environment.
Continuous validation mitigates the risk of network drift. Drift refers to when your controls become invalid due to changes in configuration or process on the network. A robust platform will constantly attack your network, mimicking a real attacker, and will provide you with real-time reports of the state of your security controls.
Cybersecurity professionals face a challenging environment where they need to constantly validate their controls against multiple mandates. Constantly validating controls manually will result in your cybersecurity team performing housekeeping duties instead of actively reviewing threats against your network. The only solution to this problem is to automate continuous security validation.
Most automated solutions allow you to validate your controls against industry standards (for example NIST and MITRE) as well as against pre-defined audit standards specific to your business. The result is a robust framework that helps you mitigate threats and utilize your security team’s time efficiently.
3. Define And Review Your Assets
A static approach to cybersecurity will have you implement solutions and treat every asset your company owns equally. As a result, a threat to a low priority asset is treated with the same urgency as one to a high priority asset. Clearly, this isn’t the most intelligent way to respond to threats. Conduct a review of your assets and the risks they pose to your organization in case of a breach. Order them by criticality and develop controls that are tailored to them based on the risks you face if that asset is compromised.
This doesn’t mean to say you should ignore low priority assets. The risk prioritization framework will help you figure out where you ought to concentrate your response in the event of an organization-wide attack. Securing your most critical assets and ensuring business continuity is critical in such times. An asset priority list ordered by criticality and risk will help you respond intelligently.
4. Question Assumptions
A continuous validation platform will have you reviewing your controls regularly, and you’ll find that it’s best used when you question your assumptions. Use reports and evidence-based conclusions to drive decisions instead of relying on old assumptions that may or may not be valid.
For example, if your cybersecurity team recommends a new data loss prevention solution, this recommendation has to be backed up by real data, not projections based on assumptions. How will this solution impact response times? Will any training be needed to make sure your employees use the tool effectively? Will your processes change? If they do, how will they impact other workflows?
These are just some of the questions that an evidence-based reporting platform will give you. Continuous security validation is more than just about attacking your network and figuring out its weaknesses. It also helps you integrate better solutions and question your assumptions. Ultimately, it helps you avoid falling victim to your confirmation bias.
Constant And Automated Security
With the threat landscape becoming more intelligent than ever, businesses must adopt continuous security validation protocols. The four processes you’ve just read will help you integrate this into your current cybersecurity process and will result in a robust and dynamic security infrastructure that will keep your business safe at all times.
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