CISOs: Five Ways to Ramp Up Your Security Strategy

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Kirsten Bay

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Every day, and usually without people realizing it, networks are breached. With confidential information exposed to the wrong eyes, secrets can become commodities capable of ruining corporate and personal reputations. We live in a world where network incidents are so common that no one can deny their existence. As attacks proliferate, problems mount. With the attack surface continually growing, new devices plugging into networks, and data in motion growing in volume, the challenges for corporate leaders are more complex than ever. Fortunately, most enterprise companies are taking steps to increase their defense in depth, but the security strategy does not become more effective by merely adding another layer of software to the stack. We need rethink the entire approach.

As most security professionals will attest, the task of setting up, maintaining and altering an integrated enterprise security system, often containing multiple vendor solutions, is not simple. There is no lack of solutions for security teams to choose from. What is important is knowing what type of solution to implement and why. The first step to combatting this challenge is to examine a number of common variables at work that point towards why cyber security problems seem to be getting worse despite the availability of innovative solutions in the market.

Expanding networks. Agile hackers. Let’s look at the variables.

+ Networks are getting larger with each user connecting multiple devices into the system.

+ While not necessarily smarter, attackers are more agile than most organizations and can afford a “low and slow” approach before pulling the trigger.

+ The explosion of social networking and the subsequent high volume of data and users it has created help hackers get even easier access into corporate networks.

+ The widespread reach of black markets and rampant utilization of automated systems has created a marketplace primed for maleficence.

+ The proliferation of technology has created a world that is more diverse and disparate than ever. We continue to be pulled in a million directions as information travels quicker.

The above scenarios are just the tip of the ‘cyber-risk iceberg’. In reality, there are hundreds of variables to identify, assess, and use when looking for the right solution. In this brief write-up, we will do our best to turn those variables into tangible steps in search for a more comprehensive security strategy.

Understand. Articulate. Act.

Where is a cyber security professional to begin when the stakes are set against the corporation? The key is better preparation. Below are five steps that will provide an approach to help build a strategy that offers the potential to outsmart the attacker.

1.     Stop guessing. Assume your enterprise has already been breached. This is where detection technology is critical. Implementing a signature-based system is helpful but it is not sufficient. What is needed is a system that detects behavior anomalies by correlating seemingly disparate events. Think of a night watchman on patrol, noticing potentially unrelated incidents that he can then tie together. He sees a security light has gone dark; this is not necessarily cause for alarm, but it could be if there is broken glass where the bulb was broken, not burnt out. Thus, it is the pinning together of isolated events that could shine light on abnormal behavior that leads to the discovery of a malicious intruder.

2.     Assess the most critical assets and potential compromises within your network.For example, are your end users reliant on mobile devices? Are your employees constantly working remote or on-the-go? The 2015 Cyberthreat Defense Report shows that 59% of respondents experienced an increase in mobile threats over the past year. If you have a mobile-heavy workforce, make sure you’re monitoring all apps and mobile traffic. Also, know the storage location of the most critical assets of your organization, such as corporate IP, client info, project plans, etc., and have consistent management of access permission settings.

3.     Understand your risks and core infrastructure. You must be aware of the most vulnerable risks posed to your organization in the event of a breach. What assets pose the greatest danger to your stability if they fall into the wrong hands? What is the level of security as defined by your existing cyber security stack? How much of your resources have been deployed to your perimeter versus network core?

4.     Articulate. Learn the way in which your organization’s board communicates and receives information best. They typically do not have time to review hundreds of metrics; therefore you must be able to organize your findings in a succinct, action-oriented manner that makes it easier for them to make decisions that help your organization. They certainly have the means to move resources. Make them your advocates.

5.     Act. Once a plan is in place, execution is vital. Make sure you put the necessary time and effort into building a resilient and secure system prepared to fight off invaders both inside and outside the firewall. In the end, it will save your organization valuable time and money while protecting your reputation.

Securing your network from the inside out via detection is crucial. Since we know that more than 90% of networks already have intruders present, we must take steps to detect their presence, identify how they got in, and make a plan to protect the network from future intrusion.

Kirsten Bay is Cyber adAPT's President and Chief Executive Officer and a recognized leader in business transformation initiatives for growth and turnaround companies. With a cross-functional background that spans multiple industries, Kirsten leverages 20 years of experience in policy, finance, and information management to drive strategic business process improvements towards creating more effective, scalable, and innovative organizations.

http://www.cyberadapt.com/

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