November 2, 2015

8 BEST PRACTICES TO MITIGATE CYBERTHREATS

DEFEND YOUR COMPANY FROM MODERN-DAY BREACHES AND STAY AHEAD OF THE HACKERS.

High-profile data breaches are occurring more often these days. Why? It’s primarily because there is plenty of money to be made. As a result, cyberthieves are proving progressively more sophisticated and increasingly determined in their efforts to evade and break through security solutions.

Keeping your data safe requires staying a step ahead of the bad guys. By following these eight best practices, you can get out in front of the problem and reduce your vulnerability to malicious attacks from both inside and outside the business. Moreover, you’ll be ready to implement quick countermeasures if a breach should occur.

1. ALIGN FUNCTIONAL AND STRATEGIC INTELLIGENCE RESOURCES

Even when security-focused processes are in place, without adequate cyberintelligence and analysis, it’s only possible to react to breaches—a response that’s the equivalent of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. An optimized cyberintelligence program incorporates both functional and strategic analysis that improves the ability to develop timely, proactive intelligence solutions, communicate potential threats and security risks to the C-suite, and fine-tune data gathering tools to meet analysts’ needs more efficiently.

2. DEVELOP A COLLABORATIVE CULTURE FOR SHARING INFORMATION

Early this year in New York City, representatives of government agencies, the private sector and academia came together at the fifth International Conference on Cyber Security to promote a collaborative environment to create a more secure world. It was just one of many similar conferences taking place across the globe.

Experts at these events emphasize that risk is shared, so information surrounding data security must be shared as well. Improving awareness across the enterprise is also critical. To heighten awareness, make sure internal departments understand threat exposure, the risks and consequences of cyberattacks, and that individual employees are trained about their roles in maintaining data security.

3. ALLOCATE RESOURCES BASED ON THREAT POTENTIAL

Relying on a one-size-fits-all approach to cybersecurity creates more challenges than advantages. It limits the scope of the implementation and restricts agility as cyberthreats evolve and become more sophisticated. Implementing a tiered threat model enables rapid assessment and prioritization of potential threats and targets, and then appropriate allocation of resources. This approach supports cost-effective risk mitigation and agile responses.

4. DESIGN PROGRAMS TO SUIT THE ORGANIZATIONAL MISSION

While a shortage of information poses peril, too much data can also be dangerous. Struggling to filter vast quantities of data increases the risk that a serious threat could be missed. Instead, it’s important to clearly define the organizational mission and develop focused data-gathering plans based on those specific needs.

5. IDENTIFY GAPS IN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE

There’s a familiar expression in the business world: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Or, in the case of data security, what you can’t see. To understand risk, conduct a data audit to establish what data is available internally and identify coverage gaps that can be filled with third-party intelligence sources. This process enhances visibility into risk, allowing more effective cyberthreat assessment, elimination of wasted efforts by internal resources and cost savings through more selective use of outside services.

6. AUTOMATE DATA FILTERING

For routine or low-risk threats, develop algorithms to automatically filter the data. This lets analysts focus on a refined data set to more rapidly identify potential new threats and bring them to the attention of leadership in a timely manner.

7. MAINTAIN GLOBAL AWARENESS

Understand vendors’ security measures, particularly if those vendors support data-related services such as cloud computing. In addition, visibility into the IP ranges of third parties facilitates a proactive response if a breach takes place outside their walls. Besides financial and reputational risks, a breach, even within a third party, can expose organizations to regulatory risk. For example, a data breach for a vendor that handles billing for a health system could expose the company to HIPAA violations and fines, even if the company was not directly responsible for the security  lapse.

8. KNOW YOUR ENEMIES

The FBI and Interpol have “Most Wanted” lists for a reason—to raise awareness and make identifying criminals easier. Likewise, organizations should know their enemies. Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, which is why it’s critical to develop profiles for top cyberthreats based on the types of data that are likely targets and the cybercriminals, including nation-states, that would benefit from accessing that data. By creating robust profiles of adversaries, defensive strategies to mitigate risk can be developed.

Traditional Defenses No Longer Work

Because breaches are ultimately a nightmare for everyone, cyberattacks are a top concern for almost every organization today. In an age when traditional layered defense systems can no longer defend against complex attacks, it’s time to bolster defenses with comprehensive solutions supported by big data and analytics.

Susan Lawson-Dawson is a business writer who covers trends, technology solutions and strategies.