Maintaining a high level of cyber security has always been important. But in today’s climate, it has never been more crucial.
As businesses become more globally connected and open themselves up to cloud-based technologies, the risk of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands is now greater than ever.
And as we continue to benefit from AI, this too brings with it a set of unique risks that a lot of businesses are unprepared for.
Malware is now extremely sophisticated and staying on top of the evolving cyber threats continuously being developed is a never-ending fight.
And it’s not just about protecting your business from a technical perspective. Cyber attackers often rely on human error. So, as well as educating your staff, it’s vital that you have the right controls and alerting in place to contain potential threats and stop them from spreading any further.
In reality, it’s clear that the strategy you employ for protecting your business against cyber-attacks needs to have a 360 approach. This means detecting any anomalies as soon as they appear, protecting against future attacks and responding immediately if it looks like any data has been compromised.
So, with the cyber threat landscape being one that is extremely complex and difficult to navigate, how do you know as a business if your data is fully protected? And with new cyber-attacks being developed on a daily basis, how can you prepare for what’s around the corner?
Below, we go through the key security issues facing businesses today and how you can best protect your data today – and in the future.
What are the main challenges businesses face when it comes to security?
Protecting your business isn’t easy, which is why many companies – despite best efforts – are still left vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Some of the key challenges that businesses share with regards to security comprise:
- Skills gap – many companies don’t have the specialist knowledge required to implement a comprehensive and robust security strategy. This would include services such as a Security Operations Centre (SOC), and Cloud specific security services.
- Vulnerability Management – many businesses have a certain level of update compliance that they need to conform to. So, it is vital that software is kept up to date through robust patch management processes. A Managed Vulnerability Service can provide visibility into the patch level and configuration vulnerabilities that exist in your systems and can provide security reports to show that compliance requirements are met.
- Innovation – the threat landscape is highly sophisticated and is constantly changing. So, it’s key that there’s a level of innovation with regards to finding new ways to protect customer data be it on-prem, in the cloud (public or private) or hybrid.
- Human error – security awareness training is key for all of your staff – even more so when working from home. A Managed SIEM service can also help protect your business against human errors through detection as well user behaviour analytics to guard against insider attacks.
What is malware and how can you tell if you’ve been hit?
Malware is a malicious code which, if not protected against, will in some way damage or steal your data.
The first signs of a cyber-attack can usually be seen in your network where something unexpected is happening. For example, an unusual performance or connectivity issue.
But malware issues aren’t always so obvious – some may sit in your system watching or measuring, with many businesses completely unaware of their presence.
What is ransomware, how does it work?
Ransomware is a piece of malicious code which, when executed, will encrypt your files allowing the attacked to hold your data to ransom until you pay the requested amount.
Ransomware can be delivered via email, unpatched systems or by insider threats (via a USB).
What are the other types of threats that businesses can be exposed to without the right level of technical expertise?
Without an experienced eye watching your data, your business is vulnerable to:
- Data breaches
- Insider threats (accidental or malicious)
- Advanced persistence threats
- Remote access trojans
- Phishing attacks
- Zero-day exploits
How often do new threats appear?
In this day and age of digital transformation and cloud adoption, the question isn’t, ‘am I compromised?’ it’s ‘how will I know when I am compromised?’ and ‘how will I respond to a cyber-attack?’.
That’s why detection and immediate response is so important for minimising the damage of any attack.
What about insider threats – what are these and how common are they?
Insider attacks are alarmingly common. In fact, the majority of cyber-attacks occur through internal users within the business.
Some of these are as a result of human error where the user is not aware of a potential risk (such as clicking on a phishing link).
Other attacks can happen more indirectly where the attacker might work with a user to migrate malicious code into the company network.
This is why it’s so critical to monitor internal users’ activity as well as having security use-cases dedicated to these kinds of scenarios.
What is threat hunting and why is it needed?
Threat hunting is an activity done by a CTI (Cyber Threat Intelligence) Analyst. It is a process of deep-dive investigation with regards to threat/malware activity to see if any anomaly can be detected in the customer network.
Where are businesses often the most vulnerable?
Internal threats pose a very high risk to many businesses as this is one of the most common routes for attacks to occur.
Various solutions need to be in place to help protect your network such as firewalls and antivirus software.
However, you can never be 100% sure that your own users will not compromise your data simply through human error and accidentally allow malware to target critical assets.
Best practices also need to be followed to help protect against external threats that are designed to target core services.
What approach do businesses need to take in order to protect their data?
It’s vital that businesses take both a proactive and reactive approach to securing their business.
A proactive approach to protect and a reactive approach to respond to any incidents should they occur.
A proactive approach will cover:
- Identification of critical assets
- Data classification
- Patch management
- Vulnerability management
- Penetration test
- Threat Hunting
And a reactive approach will cover:
- Detection measures (SIEM)
- Incident response
What about compliance and governance – are there specific security measures businesses should be following?
Different industries have different levels of compliance which need to be met by all the relevant businesses that fall under them.
For example, businesses within the financial sector need to make sure that they are PCI, SOX compliant.
There are other common cyber security standards like IS027002 and Crest which need to be met to cover security and governance standards.
Can you solve all of your security challenges by installing the right software?
Security software can only take your business so far in terms of protecting your data.
It’s vital that you have at least one – or preferably a team – watching over your IT environment 24/7 – especially as time is such a crucial factor in damage limitation should an incident occur.
The right software can only provide certain amount of protection whereas a complete security assessment will identify any gaps or vulnerabilities as well as provide the remediation needed for your security challenges.
In terms of protecting my business – where do I need to start?
When devising a security strategy for your business, you will need to address the following areas:
- Governance, risk, and compliance
- Security operations
- Identity and access management
- Network security and containment
- Information protection and storage
- Applications and services
Finding the right security strategy for your business
Designing a security strategy is a complex process that needs to be done by an experienced expert.