Over the previous decade, cyber-attacks have been escalating. Owing to increased internet exposure and the inclusion of businesses in the digital economy, threats have become more common. Although the information security industry has been making strides, breaches still cause damages of over USD 6 trillion every year globally. To be able to survive in the labyrinth that cyberspace is, defending your digital presence is non-negotiable.
The pandemic also played its part in creating a hospitable environment for cyber criminals. As more people were forced to move away from their offices, cyber attacks became more common with approximately 47% of surveyed individuals working from home having fallen for some form of a phishing attack. It is important to be aware of and be prepared for threats, especially in a time where global tech adoption rates are skyrocketing owing to COVID-19. In this article, we discuss how enterprises of all scales can strategize their cyber defense practices and mitigate the chances of being a victim of cybercrime.
A fault in the design
Even when campaigns and improved access to information have helped spread awareness on the importance of cyber security, attacks are on the rise. Unsurprisingly, a vast majority of these attacks are a direct consequence of human error. The larger issue here is the indifference and complacency in the development of an action plan. Even though a report by Accenture suggests that more than 68% of surveyed business leaders believe their cyber security risks are rising, most companies still rely on rudimentary measures to protect their data. Such steps, although necessary, are simply not enough to provide the protection that is required.
Another important consideration here is the inadequacy and insufficiency of security measures in a system. The lack of proper solutions to main defenses creates multiple voids in a strategy. These gaps are opportunities for attackers to exploit systems and, instead, should be opportunities for businesses to improve systems.
While there can be innumerable reasons for failed security, some attributes stand out. Here are some reasons that can cause a cyber defense strategy to fail:
It is common for businesses to isolate their data in order to prevent it from being breached. However, contrary to popular belief, information silos do not necessarily improve cyber security. Since data is stored in a single location, the system reduces complexities, making it easier to breach data.
Businesses often use different platforms to fulfill their cyber security needs. This can help cover multiple vulnerabilities, however, is not cohesive. The lack of integrated functionality creates gaps in the system and increases the chances of a system being breached.
The evolution of technology inevitably trickles down into the development of new ways to attack a system. Unfortunately, most cyber security measures are not future-proof. This results in making the defenses redundant against the latest threats.
Several parameters define the success or failure of a strategy. Ranging from pure statistics to quality of actions, these factors can help determine the efficacy of the approach.
Here are some factors to decide the right course of action.
The average time taken by a strategy to identify and contain a threat is critical to system integrity. These metrics help determine the promptness. A faster MTTD and MTTR can prevent a threat from spreading. It is also an important performance indicator for an information security officer to gauge the long-term effectiveness of a strategy.
Accuracy in identifying, diagnosing, and resolving threats is another important factor. For a strategy to be effective, it must be able to identify the maximum number of threats and neutralize them.
Degree of efficiency in response
The strategy’s response relative to the severity of an attack is an important indicator. A threat response system that can counter complicated cyber attacks must be preferred over an unsophisticated strategy.
Incident Response Plan (IRP)
The results that a strategy yields while responding to incidents are critical to the integrity of a system in the long run. Efficient incident response can help reduce the extent of damages caused and allow the system to recover quickly.
Cost of doing nothing
One of the most important factors to consider while assessing a strategy is the cost of inaction. The damages sustained by an enterprise as a result of a failed attempt to counter threats are a clear indicator of a non-viable action plan. While several factors require careful analyses to assess the success of a strategy, the cost can be determined in simple and absolute terms.
To put things into perspective, the Kaseya VSA (Virtual System Administrator) ransomware attack in July of 2021, which was made possible through an authentication bypass vulnerability, caused over 1,000 companies to face significant downtime. A renowned retail chain in Scandinavia had to keep its stores closed for a whole week, and several businesses had to rebuild their systems from the ground up. Not only did the attack cause various companies to lose data, but it also halted operations resulting in lost revenues, unexpected expenditure and damage to reputation. Groups like REvil (which was responsible for the Kaseya attack) are always on the lookout for opportunities to strike, and not doing nothing should not even be considered a remote possibility.
Suggested reading: Mapping the ROI of a good cyber defense strategy
What you can do
In order to prepare an air-tight cyber security blueprint, it is important to understand the flaws and evaluate the need for a better platform. While preparing a strategy, businesses need to keep in mind the impact of a failed strategy. It is just as important to be able to prevent attacks as it is to control the damage.
While preparing an action plan it is easy to get confused. With a myriad of options and solutions in the market, choosing the right one can get tricky. Therefore, here is an introductory roadmap to developing a cyber defense strategy that keeps your data secure.
Acknowledging the status quo
One of the first steps to approach your cyber security is to assess individual needs.
Evaluate the maturity of your defenses and their likelihood to fail. Consider multiple aspects of your system such as previous incidents, scale, exposure, and risk. Understanding the needs of the system can help you determine the best course of action for securing your information.
Apart from the strategy itself, it is also equally important to gauge the threat landscape. Before settling for a strategy, the need to know the environment and associated hazards is absolute.
Testing and tweaking
Once identified, deploy your strategy to test the waters. A test run will help you tweak the strategy to manage vulnerabilities and risk. Simulating possible threats to check if the strategy can counter them can prepare both the system and your team for possible incidents.
Such examination will yield metrics that can then be used to determine methods to improve security. A result-oriented approach can help businesses achieve the desired security goals.
Deploying, monitoring, and adapting
After several rounds of testing and corrections, a strategy is ready to be deployed. However, just because a strategy is prepared for action, it does not mean that the work is complete. One of the most vital components of a strategy to keep it viable is continuous improvement.
Once a strategy is prepared, it requires constant monitoring to validate its success. A strategy, like threats, should be dynamic. It must be updated constantly to adapt to new dangers and be equipped to counter possible future hazards.
The comfort of the framework
Such a strategy is scalable and can be employed by enterprises of all scales. Large businesses that are under a constant threat of being attacked need to understand the importance of such a strategy. While small and medium-sized businesses are usually not at risk of large-scale collaborative attacks, it is advisable to always be prepared for every possible threat.
As we understood that the use of multiple systems often leaves gaps in cybersecurity, businesses must also consider unifying their processes. It is recommended to use a platform such as BluSapphire Elite that can perform a variety of functions and share information across multiple processes. Such a solution is relevant for businesses of all sizes and can adapt to both the smallest and biggest requirements.
The strategy targets major pain points of cyber security, i.e. present considerations, scrutiny, and engagement. These aspects are key determinants of the success of a cyber defense strategy.
The way forward
As the digital work environment becomes more complicated with each day, businesses need solutions that can catch up with the changing trends. Increasing penetration of technology will inevitably create more room for cybercrimes. To counter such present and future threats, a sound cyber defense strategy becomes imperative. As more businesses gain digital residence, more opportunities are created for miscreants to experiment. To avoid subjecting your business to the perils of failed defenses, a strategy must be developed expeditiously.
There is no way of knowing what the future holds, however, statistics can be interpreted to predict possible threats. Since the number of cyberattacks (and attackers) has been on a rise, it is only reasonable to assume that the threats will become worse. Moreover, the severity of these hazards will be coupled with a rise in the quantum of such attacks. As it becomes harder to protect data, only a well-thought-out strategy can safeguard the information of a business.