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May 08, 2018

Preventing IT Security Threats Before They Happen

What’s the Key to Proactive Cybersecurity?

With so many IT security threats facing businesses, it isn’t always easy to know the best way to proceed. However, one truth has become clear over the past few years: it’s better to be proactive than reactive with cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity: Where We Stand

As cyber threats have become more frequent and ferocious, cybersecurity has received significantly more exposure – and rightly so. We’re in the midst of a scary period of time in which cyber criminals seem to be innovating and iterating at a faster pace than most security companies. The result is a business world that’s in disarray, looking for anything and everything to latch onto for security.

In 2017, 54 percent of companies reported experiencing one or more successful attack that compromised data and/or IT infrastructure. Roughly 77 percent of these attacks utilized fileless techniques – which are the new bread and butter of hackers. Only one-third of organizations believe they have adequate resources in place to manage security effectively.

According to Optimal Networks, here are some additional cybersecurity statistics and data points businesses need to be aware of:

·       95 percent of all successful cyber attacks are the result of phishing scams – which means human error, not technology, is your company’s primary risk factor.

·       In 2016, 4,000 ransomware attacks occurred each day, while Symantec (News - Alert) saw a 36 percent increase in infections. In 2018, there’s reason to believe these numbers have increased substantially.

·       The cost of cybercrime, which was $3 trillion in 2015, is expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021.

·       Investing in superior training can reduce the risk of a breach by as much as 70 percent.

If your business has never experienced a cyber attack, consider yourself lucky. It’s only a matter of time before you’re targeted and/or breached, which is exactly why you need to develop a proactive cybersecurity strategy that gets ahead of curve.

How to Take a Proactive Stance

Many businesses are hesitant to invest in robust cyber security strategies because they’re worried about the upfront cost. However, when you look at security through a long-term lens, this mentality is far costlier than the initial investment.

“If employers don’t actively take the time to be ahead of the game and assess their computer systems appropriately, falling victim would mean even more time and expense could be wasted, let alone other longer-term implications such as reputational impacts and loss of customer trust,” small business expert Oliver Pickup points out.

While every situation is unique, the following issues, tips, and topics will prove helpful in your aim to transition from reactive to proactive. Take a look:

1.     Employee Training

As mentioned, most security breaches are actually the direct result of human error inside of your organization. If you want to reduce your risk and create a stronger network environment, employees need to be trained.

The biggest problem right now is that most employees don’t get trained until after they make a costly mistake. Training, like everything else, should be proactive in order to be effective.

2.     FWaaS

Since the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, firewall products have been at the center of computer and network security. Over the past decade, they’ve undergone a significant change. Today, it’s all about Firewall as a Service (FWaaS).

“Compared to traditional firewalls, FWaaS improves scalability, provides a unified security policy, improves visibility, and simplifies management,” writes Dave Greenfield, secure networking evangelist at Cato Networks, a leading provider of cloud security services. “These features allow an organization to spend less time on repetitive tasks such as patching and upgrades, and provides the responsive scalability to fast-changing business requirements.”

If you want to be proactive in your approach, FWaaS should certainly be something you consider in your security strategy.

3.     Encryption

There are plenty of ways to store confidential data. You can use firewalls, server locks, passwords, and even removable storage. However, when any one of these mechanisms is breached, the data is there for the taking. If you want to add another layer of security to your network, you need to invest in encryption.

Data encryption uses advanced algorithms to convert data into complex codes that take years for hackers to crack with even the most sophisticated technology. In other words, it’s about as impenetrable as you get. Make sure you’re utilizing encryption in all areas of your business – including email, website data, and file storage.

4.     Real-Time Monitoring

Research shows that the average time between when a breach occurs and when the business recognizes that the system has been compromised is right around 229 days. In other words, it takes more than seven months for businesses to even notice that something happened.

This should be a stiff wakeup call for you. You can’t afford for seven hours to go by, let alone seven months. The solution is to invest in real-time monitoring that is recognizing and reporting abnormal activity as soon as it’s identified. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll successfully fight off the threat, at least you know it’s there and can respond in a timely manner.

From Proactive to Predictive

While the current best practice is to develop a proactive cybersecurity strategy, we’ll soon reach a point where proactive will morph into predictive.

“The goals of cybersecurity transformation are to close the expanding security gap, and to shift from a reactive or proactive program to one that is predictive and can meet evolving business needs and external drivers head on,” explains Sila, a management consulting firm that works with businesses to develop cybersecurity strategies. A predictive risk-enabled cybersecurity program like this would allow for things like:

·       Automated threat hunting and security analytics with big data

·       Real-time risk profiling for empowered business decision making

·       Advanced warnings that detect threats and vulnerabilities

·       Behavioral analytics that detect anomalies in user and machine activity

·       Self-learning and self-healing capabilities built into network architectures

While we’re still a few years away from fully functional predictive security strategies, the best thing your company can do is prepare by investing in proactive initiatives. In doing so, you’ll be fully prepared for whatever shifts happen in the coming months and years.

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